Ten women entrepreneurs have been selected for the first cohort of the POWERED Accelerator, an entrepreneurship programme jointly launched by DFID India (Government of UK), Shell Foundation, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and Zone Startups India.
The programme is focused on twin sustainable development goals of energy and diversity.
The cohort comprises startups in areas ranging from access to energy, water conservation, application of energy in agriculture, easy finance, last-mile distribution and waste to fuel.
The top 10 entrepreneurs will receive support for one year to scale their business, including a six-week residential mentoring programme and access to an equity-free seed fund of US$10,000 each.
Launched in Mumbai, the POWERED Accelerator aims to support female-led ventures by helping them expand their innovative and consumer-responsive products and services; the ultimate goal being to empower women-owned and managed businesses in the energy space. The accelerator is focused on core themes of access to energy, sustainable mobility, waste to value, energy efficiency, and smart energy solutions.
More than 130 women entrepreneurs applied to the programme from varied backgrounds, all having created innovative solutions in the energy sector. The startups were evaluated based on the applicant’s background, innovativeness, scale of impact, problem solution fit, clarity of thought, and programme fit.
“We know that given the right opportunities, women can play a critical role across the energy-value chain. As energy enterprises scale up in India, they provide rural and low-income women with new opportunities to generate income and achieve greater economic empowerment. Through the POWERED programme, we will work towards strengthening the ecosystem for more women-owned and managed businesses across the energy value chain,” said Gavin McGillivray, Head, DFID India.
“We believe these inspiring women have the potential to deliver long-term energy and mobility solutions that address market gaps and break down some of the barriers that are preventing low-income consumers from accessing these critical services. The Accelerator programme is one element of the POWERED initiative, a partnership between DFID India and Shell Foundation, which will deliver 5000 jobs, and support more than 100 women-owned micro-enterprises in rural and urban India,” said Sam Parker, Director, Shell Foundation.
As part of the broader aim of the programme, the accelerator will also be organising ecosystem development activities, grand challenges, a one-week residential boot camp, and an incubator for women in energy.
A brief of the 10 women entrepreneurs
Simmi Sareen, Loans4SME
She is a veteran in financial services with more than 19 years of experience in credit and lending. She is head of the Mumbai-based startup Loans4SME, which is an alternative lending platform that connects businesses with debt providers. They aim to help small businesses navigate the complexities of the lending market, all the while enabling lenders to invest in the right company. The next step is to create products and structures that expand supply of capital for renewable energy beyond the currently existing lenders.
Srujana Raghupatruni, Cellerite Systems
Raghupatruni is a Post Graduate in Power Systems from IIT Delhi with seven years’ experience in teaching Electrical Engineering to graduates and undergraduates. She is the Founder and CTO of Hyderabad-based startup Cellerite Systems that is developing an innovative Electric Vehicle charger that focuses on reducing the charging time of the vehicle, thereby increasing the travel range of these vehicles.
Puspalata Pani, M/S Kumudini Enterprise
Pani has a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) and Rural Management with 19 years of experience in youth leadership development. She is the Co-founder of and manages operations at Odisha-based startup M/S Kumudini Enterprise, an organisation, which is completely run by women, that aims to provide energy services and devices in rural communities, with a special focus on Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). They also promote training and capacity building of the rural communities with an emphasis on the women in the community.
Mousumi Medhi, HoneyComb Inventions
Medhi has eight years of experience in project management and holds an MBA Degree. She is the CEO of Mumbai-based startup HoneyComb Inventions, which is aimed at enhancing the duration of power back up supplies of healthcare facilities.
Amishi Parasrampuria, Upcycler’s Lab
Amishi has four years of experience as a social entrepreneur in the field of sustainability. She is the Founder of Mumbai-based startup Upcycler’s Lab, which makes sustainability-based learning tools for children above the age of five. They aim to create awareness and educate children on the need for sustainability in accordance with UN SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production.
Kavita Aggarwal, BluPrints
Aggarwal has core experience in Embedded Systems Design, in Building ATC and War-Room communication infrastructure for IAF. She also holds an MBA degree from University of Leeds and an MCA Degree from IMT, Ghaziabad. She is the Founder and CEO of Delhi-NCR-based BluPrints, an R&D-driven embedded systems technology company specialising in retail-tech and fintech devices. One of the focuses being a system designed for electricity billing.
Ruchi Jain, Taru Naturals
Jain holds a Master’s Degree in Environment Change and Management from Oxford University. She has also worked with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, European Academies Sciences Council and as a Campaigner with 350.org and Indian Youth Climate Network. She is the Founder and CEO of Mumbai-based Taru Naturals, which is a network that connects farmer communities with clean technology and renewable energy. It is an ecosystem builder for small-scale farmers, wherein they mobilise the village community to adopt sustainable methods of agriculture such as solar power pumps, solar dryers, etc.
Manvi Dhawan, Agnij-Adjustable Thermoelectric Power Generator
Dhawan has two years of experience in project management and systems engineering. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from IIT Bombay. She is the CEO and CFO of Mumbai-based Agnij- Adjustable Thermoelectric Power Generator, which is developing a product called Agnij. Agnij is a thermo-electric belt, which can be placed around any heated vessel or chullahs to use waste heat.
Neha Upadhyaya, Guna
Upadhyaya is an organic macrobiotic coach based in New Delhi. She is the Founder of New-Delhi based Guna, which trains rural women farmers in Ladakh and Sikkim to develop eco model villages through a focus on organic farming and the use of solar energy in post-harvest management by the use of solar dryers, solar pumps, etc.
Nidhi Pant, S4S Technologies
Pant is a social entrepreneur who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering. She is one of the Co-founders of Mumbai-based S4S Technologies and heads marketing and sales in the company. S4S manufactures solar dehydrators that are used by farmers for food preservation; they also provide the farmers market linkage to sell these dehydrated food products.