What solution(s) does your initiative address to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities? (select all applicable)
Access to financing, Access to talent, Access to supply chains, Access to technology, Access to economic opportunity.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
In 2009, the founder and another volunteer traveled to the village of Irumbai, Tamil Nadu to set up a SGV called the EcoLife Store with the Aurovile Village Action Group (AVAG). AVAG specializes in social services; business was a totally new concept for them. Yet they desired the ability to provide sustainable goods to the villagers that wanted to buy them. This store services about a target market of 90,000 households and is a focal energy access hub in the community. Sales have brought extra revenue for the AVAG, which allows them to continue their large program of activities. Notably, after Cyclone Thane devastated the area, people were able to access solar lights whereas they would have before needed dangerous kerosene. The volunteers left after only six months, and as a result, roughly 6000 products have been sold through the SGV since. Emboldened by their success in social enterprise, AVAG has planned to open up two new SGVs in neighboring villages on their own for 2013!
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
ENVenture will continue to map out where sustainable goods ventures have been established and identify new regions to operate. This includes expansion into new countries, with plans to grow in terms of size and operations. Impact will be quantified by the sales of sustainable goods, starting in Uganda and India. Impact will also be the number of new sales channels opened up to villages for product distribution. Qualitatively, fellows will be impacted by their experiences and can bring that challenging business mindset and experience to their future careers. The field partners will also be impacted by having additional revenue to continue their projects. Within three years, we hope to have at least five sustainable goods ventures up and running with partners in Uganda, and two in India.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
As ENVenture will be a registered non-profit, it will have to continue to rely on donations and fundraising to continue operations. Though carbon markets may be involved in the future, these require high upfront investment and takes time to receive a payout. Donations are solely to fund the fellowship program, while the initial wholesale inventories of SGVs will be loaned at low-interest to our partners.
Also, the partner must be fully willing to operate the SGV on their own during the long-term, or risk business failure at a later stage. However, due to the ENVenture Fellows’ yearlong presence, enough awareness and demand should be stimulated to keep the business running long after their departure. ENVenture staff also will provide free business advice to our partners in the long-run.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
The pilot sustainable goods venture: JEEP store will be launched within six months in Gayaza, Uganda
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
The JEEP store will be earning profit and is sustainable after 1-year