Startups are bringing disruption and innovation to how business was done traditionally. But product development, research, and market reach all require money. While entrepreneurs in the metros may be able to access funds from investors easily, it is not as simple for startups in Bharat.
But a crop of Tier II and Tier III startups is making the ecosystem sit up and take notice, as it goes about building products and solving social, health, and other critical problems the hinterlands face. As a result, these homegrown startups are getting funding, recognition, and even a market beyond the small towns.
Recognising their potential, HDFC Bank, the country’s largest private sector lender, has set up the ‘Parivartan’ initiative, to provide a much needed financial boost to startups from Tier II and III India. With an aim to bring about sustainable change in the society, the bank, which is also supporting various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts, is now looking to startups to create long-term solutions for social issues.
For the Parivartan initiative, HDFC Bank selected 25 startups from several applications, based on their products and the solutions they offer, and how they fit into HDFC’s overall CSR initiative. Besides supporting startups from Tier I cities like Mumbai, Pune and Delhi, HDFC has selected startups in the social sector from smaller cities including Kalandhi, Jamshedpur, Kochi, and Thiruvananthapuram.
In the first phase, HDFC aims to disburse Rs 10 crore to startups and incubators, increasing the scale of the investments over a period of time. While talking about the 25 startups it is working with, Smita Bhagat, Country Head – Government, Ecommerce, and Startups, HDFC Bank said in a press statement:
“Startups today are re-imagining and reshaping the world we live in. Those working in the social sector are doing commendable work in the endeavour to change the lives of millions of Indians. Parivartan Grants is one way of offering our support and encouragement in this journey. For this is a journey towards making a real difference in society and we want to be part of the ecosystem that’s making a sustainable change.”
With this grant, the CSR unit of HDFC is focused on supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem of India to create long-term solutions for different social issues like waste management, health, well-being, and the environment.
Ashima Bhat, Group Head, CSR, HDFC Bank said that the grants aim to help startups working in the social sector. With the grant, the startups get an opportunity to scale their operations and also get mentorship and access.
Let’s take a look at the five startups from Bharat that were awarded the Parivartan grant by HDFC Bank.
Agritech startup ZooFresh Foods, based in Kalahandi, Odisha, is a post-harvest management company in the fresh meat sector. The startup has a B2B and B2C stream, connecting local producers with markets in eastern India, by creating a network of tribal women micro-entrepreneurs.
Founders and husband-wife duo Ambika Satapathy and Sadananda Satapathy, are working on the goal of organising the fresh meat industry by ensuring quality, traceability, and price discovery. Ambika left her cushy corporate job at Zomato to start Zoofresh. Speaking of this shift, Ambikas told YourStory in a previous interaction:
“My decision to move to Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district of Odisha and ditch a corporate career to start my own venture was questioned by many.”
Founded in 2018, ZooFresh leverages technology and logistics to minimise post-harvest losses and increase the income of rural farmers and micro-entrepreneurs. Funded by Villgro and Upaya Social Ventures, ZooFresh is a Startup India and Startup Odisha recognised startup.
Jodhpur-based agribusiness startup Krimanshi helps in boosting the income of dairy farmers by supplying affordable cattle feed made from fruit and vegetable waste.
The startup was founded by Nikhil Bohra in 2015, with the intention of converting food and agriculture waste into low-cost feed and fodder. So far, the startup has helped over 500farmer households across Rajasthan to increase milk production and reduce veterinary costs.
“The cost of cattle feed in the market has been on the rise ranging between Rs 16 and 24 per kilogram. However, the price of milk has remained stagnant. Farmers end up buying feed at a higher cost and selling milk at a lower cost. We are working towards resolving this plight,” Nikhal told YourStory in an earlier interaction.
Kozhikode-based startup Wudi was co-founded by brother-sister duo Arjun and Nikita Hari in 2017. It uses artificial intelligence (AI)-driven data analytics to derive behavioural insights and business intelligence. The startup has three products — Edu-WUDI, Biz-WUDI, and Smart-WUDI.
Edu-WUDI helps educational institutions, teachers, students, and parents to derive performance and behavioural insights based on parameters in an educational ecosystem. Biz-WUDI, on the other hand, helps businesses analyse and visualise data points to stay ahead in the digital era. Smart-WUDI incorporates AI, deep learning and machine learning techniques to help manage businesses.
Nikita noted that in the conventional school education system, children are confined to a particular set curriculum and standard and do not have much opportunity to think out of the box.
Hence, the brother-sister duo decided to develop a product that could assess the true talent of children with the help of AI.
“If a child is interested in literature, getting her or him to take mathematical tests doesn’t help,” Nikita told YourStory.
Jamshedpur-based Rassaa Creations and Innovations offers handcrafted furniture and home décor products made from waste imported pinewood. The startup converts waste wood and generates livelihood for rural women.
Rassaa was founded by Archana Gautam. The startup manufactures furniture and handcrafted products from imported Canadian Pinewood at their production unit in Jamshedpur. They are then hand painted by the artisans or rural women, before making them available for sale on ecommerce platforms.
Thiruvananthapuram-based EVE Labs provides internet of things (IoT) solutions to improve clinical efficiency, safety, and patient experience in hospitals and home care. The company was founded by Vishnu MS, Sruthy Gopal, and Sanjai Rajendran.
Registered in 2017, EVE Labs’ pilot product – Dripo — helps set, manage, and monitor infusion therapy at ease. The startup is supported and backed by TIMED (Sree Chitra Institute of Medical Sciences), Maker Village, Dlabs, Indian School of Business and Department of Biotechnology (India).