Climate Justice & Sustainability

For young eco-entrepreneurs in India, sustainability makes good business sense

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“Sustainable businesses are the new avenues which enable ground breaking innovations…” Rozita Singh bring us interviews from Subhav and Saket, two eco-entrepreneurs from India. Subhav has design a solar power personal mover, while Saket has founded the International Forum for Leadership and Sustainability. Rozita asks about their creations, why they chose the environmental sector, and what challenges and opportunities they face.

Meet Subhav Sinha and Saket Dave, two young entrepreneurs from India.

Subhav and the Mitra


Subhav has designed Mitra, a solar personal mover which can be used as a substitute for walking at places like big factories, airports, warehouses, green buildings, tourist spots, etc. Mitrawas used in theCommonwealth Games 2010and was part of the 10th Auto Expo in Delhi. Subhav has filed aglobal PCT applicationfor the innovation. Besides being featured in leading national dailies and magazines like Entrepreneur Magazine, Subhav has also been invited as a speaker inEuro-India Summit in Belgium, TEDx, Cluster Innovation Centre, Delhi University and for an Innovation Lecture Series at Tata Steel.

CIMG9375Saket on the other hand is the founder of International Forum for Leadership and Sustainability, a social enterprise, established in 2011 which seeks todevelop leadership potential through community based sustainability projects. Saket represented India at COP 17, Durban as part of the British Council’s International Climate Champions delegation.

His venture works on the areas of environmental education, cold storage and waste management and is engaged in several youth-led projects in Pune, Patiala and Delhi. Under his leadership, his team recently launched a massive waste management project at their college campus.


I caught up with these budding new age entrepreneurs with some questions:

Why did you chose to focus on an environmentally friendly product/service?

Subhav: Environment has become an important concern and I firmly believe that instead of expecting others to act on it, one should start contributing. Having pursued engineering, I believed in the role that environment friendly technologies could play, this belief led me to invent the solar personal mover - Mitra.

Saket: The Indian development model has placed greater emphasis on economic indicators of growth, neglecting the social and environmental paradigm. These challenges were the motivation for me to pursue my passion for finding scalable solutions. In Delhi itself, there is a dearth of suppliers for waste management equipments that can manage the volume of waste from most of the large office complexes. Our experience in installing a waste management system for nearly 900 rooms in Punjab, has given a sound understanding of the practical constraints and also enabled us to utilize the opportunity in Delhi itself, to its best possibility.

Do you see environmentally friendly business as somethingyou will focus on or do you think it is just a useful springboard into regular business?

Subhav: I will continue to work towards environment friendly businesses. This is something that is very dear to me and I realise that efforts need to be invested now and not later. In fact, I believe in the principle of environmental sustainability in businesses. Currently, I am pursuing an MBA in order to learn the required skills and also working on a project to make sustainability a sustainable business.

Saket: Sustainable businesses are the new avenues which enable ground breaking innovations in environmental technology to reach the end users. However, it is important to understand that in order to change the system we must first completely understand the system. What is needed today is not to abolish the existing businesses, but to bring in newer thought processes into them so that they can innovate upon their business models. It is thus important to view this with a greater responsibility and not as an either-or problem, where regular businesses can play an equally important role. So, I see myself as a part of the solution, rather than that of an extreme alternative.

Is it easy to be an eco entrepreneur in India? What barriers or opportunities do you face?

Subhav: It is not at all easy to be an eco-entrepreneur in India. As per a saying, “You have to be a half warrior and half monk to pursue the work in India”, so it holds true.

India is a diverse country with different cultures and different people. When you solve a cause you move in unison uplifting all the people, you can’t just work in isolation. You need to overcome the different minute challenges that arise here and there to move ahead. You need immense ground knowledge and strategic planning to face the unforeseen challenges that will arise so as to stay ahead.

Saket: Being an eco-entrepreneur comes with its own sets of challenges. At the same time, it offers greater opportunities for doing good business when compared to saturated business spaces such as e-commerce in India. In my experience, the biggest opportunity has been the desire in people to challenge the status-quo. This has brought in greater focus in aiding such businesses, thus encouraging several innovations to reach markets. The greatest challenge however remains the lack of proper understanding of environmental issues and how it will directly impact the consumers themselves. Thus, an environmental product/service is still regarded as an ‘additional utility’ rather than a ‘necessity’.

Last but not the least, I asked Subhav and Saket about the policy environment and government initiatives that could support entrepreneurship. While Subhav seemed positive about the current way of things which could help budding entrepreneurs march ahead, Saket differed and offered some suggestions for his government. He feels that creating an enabling environment for sustainable businesses to flourish is the most important thing that the government needs to focus on. Elaborating further with examples, he added that this must include increased spending on research in alternative energy, subsidy for alternative energy projects and creating a policy framework that makes it much easier for businesses to function.

This blog is part of a series on green jobs. To read the other articles, clickhere.

Feature Image:Featured Image: Green Jobs for America via The Green Market Oracle