Entrepreneurs Get Help from Silicon Valley to Battle Poverty

Five India-based social companies are among the 15 in Santa Clara, Calif., this month as part of the 13th annual Global Social Benefit Institute Accelerator program. The India companies, all attempting to battle global poverty, are Aquasafi Purification System, Banka BioLoo, Essmart, Naandi Community Water Services and Rangsutra Crafts India.

Pavin Pankajan is the executive director of Aquasafi Purification System, which has established state-of-the-art water purification units across many villages in the Gadag district of Karnataka. In all, the company has 101 water stores in 100 villages, with each store delivering water to at least 200 houses. The store provides clean drinking water to roughly 100,000 people daily.

Sanjay Banka founded Banka BioLoo, which installs biotoilets – or bioloos – to treat human waste using bacterial culture, which eliminates the need for excreta disposal and treatment. The company has installed more than 570 facilities that have more than 25,000 users daily. About 2.8 million pounds of waste are treated each year, and 30.4 gallons of water are recycled daily. The company also employs more than 70 people to maintain the toilets.

Essmart, under director and head of India operations Prashanth Venkataramana, builds an essential marketplace for life-improving technologies in local retail stores throughout the rural landscape. Essmart has six distribution centers and works with a network of more than 500 retail stores. The company has sold more than 6,500 technologies, impacting more than 26,000 end users.

Naandi Community Water Services, led by CEO Anoop Rao, builds and operates community water centers with a promise to provide safe, reliable and affordable water in rural India. Thus far, the company has provided access to safe drinking water to more than a half million people in 375 villages.

Rahul Noble Singh is the CFO of Rangsutra Crafts India, which provides a trustworthy platform, access and exposure to a market of artisans and farmers, living in remote villages and facing difficult gender biases. The company has reached a base of about 3,000 artisans in remote villages, 1,800 of which are shareholders of the company.

Santa Clara University is hosting the event from Aug. 12 to Aug. 21, highlighting 10 months of training and mentoring for the 15 entrepreneurs who are seeking to reach much larger numbers of customers and beneficiaries.

Part of the university’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, GSBI has trained nearly 400 social entrepreneurs from 63 countries since 2003.

The program will have more than 55 Silicon Valley mentors who have been working online with this year’s batch of global entrepreneurs since early on in 2015. They will spend their time in Silicon Valley going over the likes of business strategy and impact metrics.

Among the mentors are former CEOs, venture capitalists, finance, distribution and supply chain experts; specialists in solar and renewable energy, as well as startup veterans.

The entrepreneurs will be honing their pitches which they will give to an audience of hundreds of Silicon Valley investors Aug. 20 at the 2015 Investor Showcase at the Santa Clara University Recital Hall. Last year, 85 percent of the entrepreneurs received funding within six months of the showcase.

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