IFC to loan $25 million to WaterHealth India for rural drinking water

Clean drinking water is in my opinion the most critical issue that must be addressed in any area suffering from poverty. So any news like this one gives me hope and a smile on my face. WaterHealth India has recently received a $25 million loan to install more than 600 water filtration systems throughout India. This issue cannot be understated as, 

[m]ore than 25 percent of India’s population does not have access to clean drinking water. Unsafe water is often the cause for waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea. As more villages are included, the WaterHealth project will have important health benefits as well as help generate local employment and provide training, which could significantly improve earnings for people in rural areas. [Source: Sreelakshmi24’s Blog]

WaterHealth India has already installed 200 such systems in Andhra Pradesh and so hopefully their experience will result in a significant improvement to clean water access.

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HaraBara Builds Greener Pastures

In the effort to connect “green” business manufacturers and suppliers, Jagdish Amin and David Wheat launched HaraBara in October 2008.  Businessworld features the duo’s new business-to-business platform:

HaraBara’s primary objective is to unearth ‘golden nuggets’: companies that are doing great sustainable work, and getting them to talk about it.

While there are plans to create a worldwide forum, the focus right now is on India.  The HaraBara Connect India site offers a clear benefit for greening businesses in the country:

Thousands of Indian companies are dealing with environmental and green challenges. Share experience with other Connect members facing green concerns. Find out what works and what doesn’t work.  Access proprietary HaraBara databases, undertake joint projects, and establish new connections. Save time and money dealing with green issues.

The online platform allows a quick and easy way of making connections in the green indsustry, and as a result, could promote faster progress of environmental efforts.

Perhaps more interesting is the founders’ explanation to Businessworld of what prompted them to start HaraBara, when a “client wanted to sell solar lanterns in rural India but wasn’t able to develop a local distribution network.”

“We realised that companies would find it useful to have a website that gave them access to customers and suppliers, and that helped them figure out local laws and regulations,” says Wheat.

I’m sure there are other industries which face a similar challenge when trying to start up operations in a new location.  For that reason, HaraBara is a great example of turning a roadblock into a far-reaching solution.

[TC-I Call to Action]: New Ventures India Business Proposals

Anil G of  New Ventures India informs us that New Ventures is inviting clean tech companies to submit their business proposals for a chance to receive mentorship, assistance, and connections with capital and market opportunities to scale up.  Click here for further details about the call for proposals, including eligibility requirements and contact information.  Proposals are due by April 30, 2009.  This is a great opportunity for clean tech and clean energy SMEs in India.

About New Ventures India:

New Ventures India works for sustainable entrepreneurship and is specially designed to meet the needs of Indian entrepreneurs and help them overcome common business challenges to deliver environmental and social benefits in addition to economic development and growth opportunity.

[TC-I Call to Action]: SEED Awards for Sustainable Development

InfoDev helps announce the SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development, an award recognizing partnerships in developing countries that are working on environmental and social issues.   The approach to the award is interesting, however, because winners do not receive the normal cash prize; instead, they will receive something that many enterprises need: support services, catered for the specific need.

Note that eligibility means that at least three partner organizations are involved – a great way to encourage collaboration for social impact.

The SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development is an annual international competition, designed to support locally-led, innovative, entrepreneurial partnerships in developing countries, which have the potential to make real improvements in poverty eradication and environmental sustainability.

The SEED Initiative assists young and promising initiatives in strengthening and scaling up the impact of their activities. This is not a cash award. Instead, a comprehensive package of tailor-made support services, with a value of US$25,000, will be provided to Winners.

Applications will be available online soon, so be sure to keep your eye on the SEED website.

TATA NEN Hottest Startup Nominees

The TATA NEN Hottest Startup Awards recognizes high-potential startup organizations in India. Startups seems to be a dime a dozen these days, so beating out hundreds of other new ventures is quite a feat. I’ve picked out some nominees that have a social twist to their operations.

Three startups are featured after the jump, but if you are interested in voting, check out the shortlist (a login is required to vote). The five startups that win the most votes by December 23 will win. Continue reading

Moralfibre, Clothing with a Conscience

An Ahmedabad-based business, Moralfibre, is short listed for the Ethical Business award given by the Ethical Fashion Forum. Promoting khadi and making it fashionable for the modern taste, the business offers a new twist on an old practice. The CEO, Shalini Sheth Amin, recognized a market for khadi in the growing zero carbon footprint and clean technology movement. The handspun cloth is both sustainable and of high quality. ExpressIndia reports:

The group has been selling various fashion products, furnishing products and fabric—all hand-made. It is also producing products in wool and silk.

Shailini says that the principle of ‘social responsibility’ has also been taken care of in her business model where 75 per cent of the profit goes to a charitable trust, Sah-Unnati Foundation. The foundation uses the fund to train the artisans in new techniques of manufacturing khadi and to do research on improving the traditional khadi production methods.

More than a fashion statement, Moralfibre hopes to create a new model for manufacturing textiles. The entire supply chain, and the product itself, is constructed from an environmental and social point of view.

The winner of the Ethical Business award will be announced on November 13, 2008.

Update: Envirofit is taking it up a notch

Not long ago, we had written about Envirofit, a company that manufactures and sells clean burining high-efficiency cookstoves to consumers in India.

Nextbillion reports that they have already sold 10,000 stoves and are ramping up production quickly. Of course, its a drop in the ocean, but definitely a great start. Congrats!