Genesis of innovation at Genesis

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I had the pleasure of being at the finals of Genesis, a national level social Business Plan competition run by C-TIDES, the entrepreneurship cell of IIT Madras.

The 137 applications that came from all over India, were filtered rigorously through various stages, and brought down to the top 8 - the finalists. Six of them presented their b-plans yesterday to the eminent panel of judges, and after 4 hours of presentations and questions, we had the top two ideas - Sampurn(e)arth, the winner, from Mumbai, and Project Kayakalp, the runners up, from Delhi.

Sampurn(e)arth - Decentralized waste management solutions

This was a venture started by Debartha Bannerjee, and his friends from college at TISS, during the final year of their Masters in Social Entrepreneurship. Their vision for a cleaner city transformed into the urge to create a clean, eco friendly solution for waste management, and they came up with the idea of Sumpurn(e)arth. It started at TISS, which they converted into a Zero waste campus, by segregating dry and wet wastes - the dry wastes are sent for recycling, and the wet wastes are sent to the biogas plant they set up at the campus, which can be used as fuel in the hostel kitchen. Then in collaboration with Stree Mukthi Sanghatana, an NGO that works for the cause of women waste pickers, they set up business ventures with corporate houses, notably Axis Bank and TCS. Here they work on a Barter system basis, the company gives them the dry waste, the waste is segregated, recycled, and recycled stationary is given in return. Their zero waste campaign also involves recruitment of the waste pickers, thus giving the project social, economical, and environmental credibility. They are now a registered private limited company.

How to expand this vision and create a cleaner India - is the question that steals Debartha's sleep. Let's hope Chennai creeps into his dreams too!

Project Kayakalp - Revive and empower the Kathputli puppeteers

One of the most intriguing and impressive presentations of the day, Project Kayakalp, is an initiative by SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise), Shri Ram College of Commerce, New Delhi. Enthusiasm brims in these students, and this project was born out of their empathy towards the traditional puppeteers from the Kathputli colony, who were moving out to other professions, or living deplorable lives, owing to the seasonal nature and general lack of interest in the traditional art forms amidst modern living. To rejuvenate their lives, and the lovely Rajasthani art form, the students came up with a three fold plan. Revive the art form. Empower the artisans. Educate using puppetry as a medium.

Through intensive training for these puppeteers by professional theatre artists and companies like Katkatha, in terms of script writing, story board writing, and educating them on moral and social subjects, and blending the traditional art form with more contemporary forms of puppetry such as shadow and rod puppetry, they have successfully pulled off seven shows at schools on the subject of bullying, and have 8 more up their sleeve for the next month! The puppeteers income have gone up by 209%, thanks to this venture.

The Kayakalp project hopes to embrace more artisans, from a wider horizon of art forms, culminating in a community owned enterprise that acts as an international arena to these lovely traditional arts. Hats off guys!

Here are peeks into the other finalists' b-plans.

Swasth Bharath - Mobile healing for a healthy India

The motivation behind this project lies in its' initiator, Nitesh Pandey's moving personal experiences - death and sicknesses of near and dear ones. Diseases like Tuberculosis, Anemia, Diabetes. Curable, but neglected. Treated, but with drugs that had side effects. Diagnosed, but too late.

The pain turned to passion to decrease the disease burden of India, by creating awareness, through the omniscient medium of mobile phones. Diagnosis of diseases through simple SMS questionnaires, timed medicine reminders for patients, awareness about frequently prescribed drugs that have side effects are some of the features. For a prescribed drug from a pharmaceutical company, the app also gives you 10 other options of companies that produce the same drug, and the availability of the drug in your locality, so you can choose what suits your pocket. It also suggests Ayurvedic remedies for illnesses.

Consumerization of healthcare, through mobiles, exactly what we victims of the commercialization of healthcare need.

Tuber Care -  A breakthrough cure for tuberculosis?

Locked up in their labs at Sastra University over the past two years, Abhijeet Santhanam and Ramprasad Sethuraman, found a plausible cure for tuberculosis - not a chemical drug, but a biological protein Immunoglobin Y, which is found in high concentrations in egg yolk- an antibody that can flush out the TB causing mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria.

The drug they produced is currently under the FDA approval cycle, and if it succeeds, it could just be the instant cure to TB. An innovation to watch out for.

ShanSa - Master Apparatus for Toxic Bio-waste Execution

ShanSa is a social healthcare sector based venture formed with a lofty aim to transform the toxic bio-medical waste disposal in our country.

Shashanka Shekar, and his friends, from Pune, designed an apparatus, MATE, that uses a combination of Calcium oxide, Water and Fly ash, under highly alkaline, exothermic conditions, to dispose the wastes, with minimal environmental impact, unlike current methods like incineration, or dumping. The after products of the reaction are highly tensile and can further be used as fillers in construction sites.

To make this possible, team Shansa aims to set up their apparatus at major hospitals at Pune. To make the process even more cost effective, the wastes are segregated, and the disposal charges are waste category specific.

A technical innovation, combined with the urge to solve a social healthcare and environmental issue. Awesomeness.

ISIS - Providing deployable skills to Rural youth

ISIS is a finishing school that aims to offer holistic development programs to the rural youth, with focus on the Banking domain, equipping them with domain and IT knowledge, so they can secure their dream jobs, which their graduate education cannot provide for.

ISIS has a tie up with BBSSL, Best of Breed Software Solutions, which provide the technology infrastructure for the training. Over 600 students have benefited from the ISIS program over the past 10 years, and are employed in banks and other jobs in the financial sector all over the world.

The training centers are located close to the villages, so the rural youth, can stay close to home, and finish their training. Also, ISIS has tie ups with nationalized and corporate banks in the rural areas that offer jobs to the ISIS pass outs.

Immense potential in the Indian rural youth. Huge job opportunities in the Banking and financial sectors. ISIS aims to combine both these potential markets and spark change. Laudable venture.

When you see 6 teams, from all over India, eyes filled with passion in their social ventures, it is stupendously refreshing and inspiring. Congrats and wishes to all the teams.

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