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A Cart, a Drip, a Greenhouse

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Prosperity Cart 1.jpgSeveral entries ago we highlighted Sewasan, a social entrepreneurship project that's aiming to improve sanitation in slums by establishing a business to provide and maintain hygienic toilets. Sewasan is just one of several international student-led projects that have gotten a jump-start this summer from IonE's Acara program through its Acara Institute, held in Bangalore. Here's a quick look at a couple of others:

The Prosperity Cart

The Prosperity Cart, developed by students from Cornell University in the U.S. and Somaiya Institute of Management in Mumbai, aims to improve food safety by selling specially designed modular carts to street food vendors in India.

Update from team member Rohit Katyal of Somaiya: We have gotten approval for funding of Rs.100,000 from Acara, which is close to $2,000. This comes as a follow-up to our findings at the Summer Institute. We realized during the course that the exact demand (customer need plus the ability to pay) cannot be actually ascertained without having a prototype. In our business venture there are two main stakeholders: the street food vendor (customer), who is going to purchase our cart and use it to sell his product, and the end consumer of the food product (consumer). One of the value propositions to the customer is that, using this better-looking and hygienic cart, he can charge a premium on the food he sells, thereby increasing his earnings. Using the prototype we want to prove that the consumer will pay a slightly extra amount for the same food product. Once this is proven, we can go out and start our operations on a full scale.


MyRain is developing a drip irrigation business to reduce malnutrition and boost income in rural India. It is a collaboration of students at the University of Minnesota and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

Team member Sri Latha Ganti of the University of Minnesota reports: Things have been progressing at myRain. We've received an investment of $5,000 from investors David Kurzman, David Mitchell and Leo Sharkey. This helped finance my trip to India. During my visit, we were able to identify two local entrepreneurs. They are interested in partnering with us and selling drip irrigation kits locally. We are currently training the entrepreneurs in aspects related to technical, marketing and customer support of the product. We expect the entrepreneurs to be able to be making sales in about three to four months.

Ankur Initiative

The Ankur Initiative, a partnership of students from Duke University and the IIT, is gearing up to sell lightweight plastic greenhouses to Indian farmers to reduce water loss, boost yields and allow farmers to produce market goods at an economically favorable time.

From correspondent Ankit Mittal, a student at IIT: After winning the Acara Challenge, three of our team members attended the Summer Institute and learned a lot about making the business sustainable and about community involvement. After the Summer Institute we refined our plan a lot. We have three influential farmers who are ready and very enthusiastic about this new technology. We had made visits to our target village, Charba, in recent few days and have confirmed the pilot run. Since weather conditions here now don't allow us to acara institute2.jpgagain visit the village and market, we are working to get funds transferred from our Duke partner to IIT's account so we can use them for the future business. Weather conditions are expected to remain same for the next 12 to15 days, so we can expect a pilot start by the next month.

Still to come: Reports from Acara teams Swach and TextRA. Stay tuned!

Top photo: Prosperity Cart, courtesy of Rohit Katyal. Lower photo: Sewasan Acara Institute participants, courtesy of Fred Rose.

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  of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.