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The Future Technologies for Water Competition

Deadline: July 31, 2014

The Future Technologies Water Competition is joint program of Takata Corporation and The Water Institute. Takata Corporation, dedicated to protect human life, develops new safety technologies and makes it available globally. The Water Institute providing global academic leadership for economically, environmentally, socially and technically sustainable management of water, sanitation and hygiene for equitable health and human development, is committed to further innovation in sustainable water technologies.

The first-place winner will receive $15,000, and the second-prize winner will receive $5000.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicant can be an individual or a team of two or more people. An individual cannot compete on two teams.
  • The founding member of the team must have at least 25% ownership of the venture.
  • Any faculty or staff teaching or working in the field of entrepreneurship at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School or Environmental Sciences and Engineering at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health cannot take part as competitor.
  • Employee of Takata, individual directly related to a Takata employee, or already involved in Takata’s incubators is not eligible to participate in the competition.
  • Venture should not have risen more than $10,000 in seed funding or “equity financing” other than from founding members are eligible to compete. This does not include grant funding or prize money from other competitions.
  • The venture should have fewer than 10 paying customers and less than $25,000 in booked revenue.
  • The venture must be operating for no more than 12 months.

For more information on the competition, please visit here.

Charting a sustainable path towards development through community participation

As part of its CSR services, Samhita Social Ventures undertakes community needs assessment for companies to align the expectations and intentions of the company with priorities identified by the community that it seeks to benefit as a key stakeholder. This is accomplished by conducting door-to-door surveys, interviews with key informants in the village (such as sarpanch, asha worker, aanganwadi workers) and focused group discussions with the residents.

Through our intense and in-depth interaction with communities across the country, we have realized that community participation and acceptance are critical in ensuring the success of CSR programs. While the theoretical discourse on development has always acknowledged the importance of participatory approach (you may have heard of Robert Chambers and Paulo Freier), this takes on a pragmatic connotation for companies beginning to think about CSR in India.

Our work has shown that the aim should be to address social implications of corporate activities by securing community participation in decision-making and consideration of local knowledge and the environment. The community should drive and own these initiatives. Any tendency to superimpose or force CSR or other development initiatives top-down on communities could be disastrous.

So for example, during one such assessment in two clusters of Vadodara District, Gujarat it was observed that 87% people defecate openly every day. While reducing open defecation is a national and international priority, it was most interesting to note that communities in one cluster did not perceive it to be an issue. The assessment found that these communities defecated in the open not only because of the unavailability of toilets but due to low awareness of the potential health hazards, internalized behavior, accustomed practice, perception of high costs of maintaining and constructing toilets, caste based differences in terms of maintenance and cleaning, etc. It was seen that these communities appeared resistant to using toilets because of all these reasons. In this context, CSR initiatives of companies to set-up toilets for such communities to eliminate open defecation, disregarding the voices of the community, would be futile and bound to fail. The company would have, in effect, spent its funds putting up concrete structures with its branding – not used by anyone and soon falling into a state of disrepair and neglect. In fact, this is a very common sight in many villages dotted across India. One of the ways to then incorporate the community’s views and mitigate the risk of failure would be to start a behavior change communication or campaign on a long term and sustained basis. Another example flows from the needs assessment conducted in northern India. The study revealed rampant usage of traditional fuel for cooking. About 83% of people relied on cow-dung and wood as the means of cooking.  It was obvious to our eyes that this was leading to many respiratory problems among women and also causing indoor pollution. Surprisingly, the women did not seem to be too bothered. When we suggested using smokeless chullahs or stoves, most of them thought it to be flippant. Conversations with these women revealed that they preferred these smoke generating stoves because they believed that it kept the house warm, drove away insects etc. They said that they were accustomed to cooking in this way.  It is anyone’s guess as to what the results of a CSR initiative distributing free smokeless stoves to a community like this would be. Promoting smokeless chulhas in such households becomes challenging unless their beliefs are changed.

A similar reaction was observed in another needs assessment study when a group of women said they did not want personal taps and that they preferred community pumps as it was the only activity that gave them a chance to come out of their houses and socialize with other women.

In conclusion, we opine that CSR initiatives by companies or social developmental activities by NGOs should be planned in a participatory manner, in consultation with the community, literally sitting with them, and gauging their basic needs. We must take recourse to “participatory rural appraisal” and other mapping tools to identify the community needs. This, in turn, results in greater outreach and smoother implementation. And thus, a project is born.

Request for Proposals from NGOs working for women’s hygiene in Saran district, Bihar

Deadline: June 20, 2014

A multinational company manufacturing sanitary napkins for women and healthcare products for infants is looking to reach out to villages in Saran district of Bihar for selling these products in rural households. They are looking to partner with social organizations operating in Saran, who can send their women employees to different rural households for spreading awareness on menstrual hygiene & infant health, and also sell these products to the rural women. The social organization will be compensated with a margin for each product sold.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The organization must be located in Saran or Patna, Bihar
  • The organization must be working in the field of women’s health/hygiene or women empowerment
  • The organization must have considerable number of women employees
  • The organization must be in operation for a minimum period of 1 year from the date of registration
  • The organization must be registered as a non-profit that implements social development projects in India, with no religious or political affiliations
  • The organization’s physical address provided must be verifiable
  • The organization must have a valid 80G and 12A certification
  • The organization must have an Executive Board that maintains budgets, annual activity reports and audited financial statements. These yearly records must be available and submitted upon request
  • The organization must fully comply with local and central government regulations and labor laws
To apply for the RFP, please visit the link

 

Banka BioLoo Private Limited

The challenge

India accounts for 60% of the world’s population of open defecators. Approximately 67% of rural India does not have access to toilets and even in urban areas, the 2011 Census data showed that only 32.7% had access to a piped sewerage connection1 . With the current rate of progress the nation will miss the Millennium Development Goal on sanitation – reducing the number of people without access to water and sanitation by half by an astounding 39 years2 . Given this dismal scenario, it’s ironical that the states have been unable to utilize even the available funds. Consequently, the nation is paying the cost for not spending on drinking water and sanitation in the form of loss of working days, increased expenditure on healthcare, school drop outs, malnutrition, anaemia and infant and child mortality.

Banka BioLoo and its objective

Banka BioLoo is a social enterprise engaged in developing and promoting innovative environment friendly products and services for human waste management with the primary focus of dealing with the scourge of open defecation. They manufacture, promote and supply ELoo – the environmentally friendly bio-digester toilets. This sanitation system is commonly installed at places where conventional toilet facility can’t be made available and has proven to become a sustainable and cost effective sanitation solution. It lessens environmental degeneration and creates better health conditions.

The bio-digester technology, developed in collaboration with the Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO), decomposes 99% of the human waste very effectively in a short period of time and inactivates the pathogens responsible for water-borne diseases.

Banka BioLoo also offers other services such as rentals and annual maintenance contracts (AMC), mobile bio-toilets, consultancy for development of large bio-tanks, waste water treatment and recycling solutions and supporting low cost housing projects for better sanitation requirement in rural and urban areas.

The market for their bio-digester technology solutions is schools, villages, small communities, resorts, construction sites, inlands, public sector units (PSU), private sector enterprises, industrial factories and places where there are no sewage lines or direct connection to the municipal sewerage systems.

Corporate Partnerships

Banka BioLoo has had several successful corporate partnerships. They often receive enquiries for bio-toilets from different corporate entities. Once the enquiry comes in they send a rate quotation and if selected, they partner to manufacture and provide bio-toilets to these companies, and to beneficiaries as a part of their CSR activities. They first engaged in a pilot for Larsen & Toubro Metro Rail (L&T), an Indian Multinational Company (MNC) with businesses in engineering, information & technology, construction, manufacturing among others, for their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative in sanitation.

They are now a preferred vendor for L&T and have installed 8 bio-toilet blocks at the L&T Metro construction sites and depots in Hyderabad. There are more follow-on orders in the pipeline.

They have also provided environment-friendly sanitation solutions and installed bio-toilet blocks construction sites for Shapoorji Pallonji, an Indian group with business interests in construction, real estate, power and finance among others, and International Paper, one of the world’s largest paper companies. There are more project orders from such companies on the anvil. They partner with NGOs that promote innovative sanitation technologies in villages for local community buy-in and implementation.

They have also had significant collaborations with PSUs. Their biggest client has been the Indian Railways. They have won bids through a tendering process to supply their innovative bio-technology products and services to the railways on specific rate contracts. They have also entered into an agreement for other services such as 2 AMCs for 4 years and sale of spares for Control Discharge Toilet System (CDTS) to the Indian Railways. This relationship has been productive and is expected to continue in the future.

Benefits to the Social Enterprise

Upscale and expansion

Banka BioLoo has been able to scale up rapidly as a result of these business partnerships. Corporates typically have large orders and these volumes have helped build a sustainable revenue stream. The technological innovation and design of toilets have assisted Banka BioLoo in enhancing the value proposition it delivers to its clients as well as the end users. They are able to expand without difficulty also because the toilets are mobile and therefore they can service corporate clients operating in far-flung areas at construction sites and industrial units in tough terrains where there is no sewerage facility.

Visibility

Working with prominent companies such as L&T, Shapoorji Pallonji, International Paper and the Indian Railways lends tremendous credibility to Banka BioLoo’s efforts. These partnerships provide immense visibility and act as endorsements for their excellent products and services and hence increase the possibility of other large companies sourcing the bio-toilets from them.

Sustainability

Partnering with large and eminent companies that also keep growing also leads to further possibilities for Banka BioLoo, often leading to repeat orders. An example of this is the Indian Railways which is undertaking the task of implementing bio-toilets in all trains and this will ensure that Banka BioLoo will get more orders. As it also provides several other services such as AMC, there are opportunities for additional sources of revenue.

Benefits to the Corporate Partners

Creating Value Addition

By partnering with Banka BioLoo, companies have been able to play a critical role in creating sustainable social impact among its workforce, in the communities in which they operate and in the case of the Indian Railways across the nation as a whole, helping address issues of sanitation, health and environmental sustainability. Supporting community based interventions such as this also help companies create visibility and reputation among its unskilled and contract workers.

Improved Productivity

By providing better sanitation facilities the companies are ensuring their workforce remains healthy by reducing the possibility of being inflicted with water-borne diseases. This is particularly beneficial when the companies have plants in areas that do not have existing access to good quality sanitation facilities. When the workforce is healthy they will be more productive and the company will benefit from more workdays.

Affordability

The leveraging of technological innovations by Banka BioLoo also helps provide cost leadership and makes the delivery and service of sanitation infrastructure more affordable for its corporate customers.

Image Building

Installation of bio-toilets in the coaches by the Indian Railways helps provide better service to its customers while also preventing human waste to be disposed on the tracks. There is an immense benefit to families that live close to rail tracks as they get fecal matter free environment. Improved customer satisfaction helps build a better image of the Railways among the travellers and they are more likely to use the services.

Conclusion

The partnerships that Banka BioLoo has built with the different types of companies are direct indications of the simplest means through which corporates can invest in clean sanitation practices. These partnerships are also examples of strategic CSR wherein companies are able to both fulfil business objectives through increased productivity with healthy workers and engage their community also consisting of their contract workers who are important stakeholders. This will especially be true for any company with a community presence, such as a manufacturing plant(s) or onsite construction. These partnerships also exemplify how partnering with a company can help a company scale in size and visibility very quickly.

 


  1. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/water-priorities-for-urban-india/article5523652.ece
  2. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-will-achieve-sanitation-goals-only-by-2054/article3250852.ece
  3. Photo Credit : http://www.bankabio.com/ (here)