Social Impact Startups Make A Big Statement In Kerala
Social impact startups — those using business tools to solve social problems – are making a big statement in Kerala. From ‘Aditya’, the solar boat from Kochi-based startup NavAlt, to ‘Bandicoot’, the spider-shaped robot developed by Thiruvananthapuram-based Genrobotics, to Traffitizer, which helps clear the road for ambulances, and Corporate360, a rural startup where 80 per cent of its employees are women, startups that create a positive impact on society are slowly but surely getting the attention it deserves.
“The social impact startups attract a large number of CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds. There are also investors, who look at social good more than the economic benefit for investing in startups,” says Saji Gopinath, convenor, Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM).
He says KSUM’s ‘Ideaday’ provides grants ranging from Rs 5 lakh to even Rs 12 lakh for promising innovations by startups. Some of the ideas funded by KSUM include pepper plucker-cum-separator, self-defence garment etc.
Varun Chandran, founder and CEO of Corporate360, says social impact startups are going to change our country. “Solutions to our day-to-day life problems are threads of new innovation. We need more social impact entrepreneurs to come forth as the Indian market is constantly evolving and the opportunities need to be tapped,” he says.
“It’s inspiring to notice Kerala-based entrepreneurs are developing purpose-driven startups that have social impact. Hopefully, we will create more innovative solutions that can touch the lives of masses to help them advance in life,” says Chandran.
There are accelerators like Villgro, which discovers social impact early-stage startups in the field of agriculture, healthcare and education, and invests in them. Binu Mathews, manager-scouting, Villgro, says the company has incubated over about 125 startups, but it is yet to invest in a Kerala startup. “We are looking at startups that provide technological solutions to a farmer’s problems, which help him to increase efficiency and productivity,” she says.
Gopinath of KSUM says there are several other social impact products which are in the implementing stage under KSUM such as a hardware that helps dairy farmers in early detection of diseases in cattle to a long-range communication system through the sea for fishermen, which will help them to be warned of disasters like Ockhi from a distance of 100 km.
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