How we do it
The program under Saamuhika Shakti was launched in November 2020 with a nationwide application call for start-ups working in the waste management space. Five start-ups were selected as part of the first winning cohort, based on their potential to positively impact the lives of the informal waste pickers and successfully deploy innovative waste management solutions on ground. These are:
Incorporates insect farming solutions to create a circular economy around food waste by synthesizing valuable products from it.
Supports in upcycling pre-consumer textile waste by integrating women from the waste picking community at the crux of the operations.
Upcycles flower waste to create innovative consumer products such as incense cones and leather-like material.
Streamlines collection of low-value plastics and processes it into asphalt for road construction and surfacing. Zeroplast will continue its programme for another year along with Social Alpha's second cohort.
Collects biomass waste and processes it into bioplastics and composites, creating alternate packaging materials.
These startups are a part of a yearlong accelerator program in which they have access to the following offerings:
- An opportunity to pilot in Bangalore and other geographies during which these start-ups will provide employment to the informal waste pickers and validate their business models on the ground. Through the support of Social Alpha and H&M Foundation, market connections have been facilitated to support these enterprises in scaling their pilots.
- Access to support on marketing to articulate their work and the impact it creates to the larger ecosystem and, digitisation support to help build traceability along their supply chain.
- In line with Saamuhika Shakti’s strong gender theme, the 5 startups also have access to support in building internal practices and policies with a gender and diversity lens.
Social Alpha's second winning cohort was announced in June 2022. The five startups selected to form the cohort include:
Ashaya: Upcycling the toughest types of plastic (post-consumer multi-layered plastic packaging) into high-quality products, using innovative technology. The long-term goal is to create small, financially sustainable recycling centres and mini-factories where municipal solid waste can be upcycled. To enable social inclusion, informal waste pickers will be integrated across the value chain (and upskilled along the way).
Reti Ecotech: Converts end-of-life textiles into bricks and panels that can be used to create furniture, brick cladding and acoustic insulators. Reti Ecotech is looking to employ informal waste pickers in all stages of theproduction, from segregating the textile waste to compressing the binder-textile mixture into bricks through the provision of training along the way.
Bare Necessities: Creates high-quality products for personal care, lifestyle and homecare with a zero-waste mindset. The production relies on ethical sourcing from local farmers and vendors with an emphasis on the employment of women. They seek to create employment opportunities for informal waste pickers by integrating them into the manufacturing team.
EcoSattva: Aims to partner with government bodies and communities to establish solid waste management systems, focusing on resource utilisation, environmental sustainability as well as the dignity of labour. Over the upcoming year, Ecosattva aims to establish a waste management solution that includes system-setting, segregation awareness, doorstep collection, recovery, transportation of waste, and data reporting – involving informal waste-pickers in three geographies.
Padcare Labs: Offers an automated hygiene management system that can break down disposed sanitary pads into cellulose and plastic that can be upcycled into new products. At the same time, they contribute to changing attitudes around menstrual hygiene management. The company aims to hire and empower informal waste pickers by engaging them in a pilot for the PadCare Bin waste management process, targeting four housing societies in Bengaluru.
This cohort will receive financial support of up to Rs 15 Lakh and market access to a network of stakeholders to implement pilots on the ground – showcasing how the informal waste pickers can have access to stable employment. They will also have marketing and branding support, incubation with Social Alpha for one year and access to Social Alpha’s seed investment of up to Rs 1 crore.