What’s the problem?
India is currently dealing with a dual crisis: extreme vulnerability to climate risks and jobless growth. Among the sectors with the most pollutants, the textile and apparel, construction, transportation, and waste management industries also have pervasive levels of informal employment.
The textile value chain is naturally resource-intensive and consumes and generates substantial textile waste. Similarly, the transportation and construction sectors are responsible for around 11% and 20% of India’s emissions. Further, India is suffering from a waste management crisis with more than 80% of waste ending up in landfills.
At the same time, nearly 90% of the workforce does not have stable and formal employment. Instead, they earn low and irregular wages without employer benefits. More than 60% of the garment workers and artisans are employed informally or at home-based units. Most of the labor employed on construction sites are employed informally, often consisting of rural migrant workers. And a significant portion of the estimated 1.5-4 million waste picker community and an estimated 25 million in transportation and logistics are also employed informally. Across these sectors, women and those from oppressed caste communities are paid disproportionately lower wages, working long hours and facing extreme marginalization.
High levels of unemployment in urban and rural areas are currently pushing the informal workforce into poverty. Acumen envisions building a new ecosystem committed to workers by accelerating early-stage enterprises that can both create economic stability for India’s informal economy while also reducing waste and emissions.
Acumen’s new Green Growth Accelerator Program will prepare a cohort with the grit, character, and competence to build scalable, inclusive, and sustainable solutions to support social entrepreneurs committed to boosting dignified employment and creating positive environmental impact.
What’s in it for you?
Over 16 weeks, you and your team will learn the essentials of building a business model that can achieve both social and environmental impact and profitability, while connecting with a network of peers and experts focused on green growth.
You will also get to work with NSRCEL, a leading startup incubation center at IIM Bangalore, and our knowledge partner, who will conduct workshops on topics such as marketing and cash management. Throughout the accelerator, you will receive individualized support from expert advisors from Acumen India and NSRCEL’s networks to ensure you have a great support network to help you achieve scale while also increasing your impact.
The program will culminate with a closing session where you’ll have the opportunity to pitch your venture for up to USD 50,000 in seed funding from Acumen and other investors.
You will also learn how to:
- Refine and develop a profitable and scalable business model.
- Think critically about your environmental impact and embed decent work principles into your business model.
- Develop robust strategies to bolster your financial sustainability.
- Sharpen your presentation skills and pitch your business to investors and other stakeholders.
- Build a professional network and lifelong community of social entrepreneurs who are committed to tackling injustice.
- Six peers virtual Learning Labs.
- Three one-on-one Coaching Consultations.
- Video tutorials on customer discovery, sales and marketing, financial modeling, pitching, and more.
- Case studies from social enterprises tackling similar challenges.
- Two workshops on marketing and cash management will be facilitated by NSRCEL.
- Pitching opportunity to investors on demo day.
- Eligibility for 2-3 startups to receive up to $50,000 in funding from Acumen.
- Graduation into Acumen Academy’s Foundry: an alumni community designed to accompany leaders from around the world by connecting them with resources and relationships to amplify their work.
Who is Qualified to Apply?
This is an intensive online program for entrepreneurs and c-suite executives leading for-profit/hybrid social enterprises that:
- Have business models in the following sectors and value chains:
- Textile and apparel
- Examples include models focused on alternative materials, upcycling and recycling of textile waste, eco-friendly dyes, etc.
- Examples include sustainable building materials that result in lesser emissions or energy consumption
- Waste management
- Examples include solutions across municipal solid waste, plastic waste, electronic waste, and agricultural waste including solutions focused on tech-based recycling or up-cycling, end-to-end or specialized waste management service providers, PROs, and alternative packaging solutions.
- Sustainable mobility
- Examples include EV/mobility solutions and logistics solutions.
- Textile and apparel
- Have a strong commitment to serving informal workers (including waste pickers, construction workers, weavers, potters, gig workers, etc.) with evidence of action.
- Have solutions with a positive environmental impact through reduction of greenhouse gas emitted, energy consumed, waste diverted from landfills, amount of waste recycled, etc.
- Have a demonstrated track record of at least 12-18 months, evidence of market traction and are preparing to scale.
Favorable consideration will be given to teams who are working on solutions impacting women informal workers
How to qualify?
- How will participants be selected?
Applications will be reviewed once the application deadline passes. If you are selected for an interview, a member of the Acumen team will reach out to schedule a 40-minute video call with you on the Zoom platform. We expect two lead participants to both join the call.
- Do I need to be from India to apply?
You need to be an entrepreneur running a business with primary operations in India and catering to the Indian market. You do not need to be an Indian citizen to apply. However, please note that you are expected to participate in IST time zone meetings and attend the demo day in India (if it is held in person)
- Can I apply if I run a non-profit?
You can apply if you have a hybrid model (i.e., a for-profit entity and a related non-profit entity) but we will not accept purely non-profit business models.
- Applications Open Until
May 15, 2022
- Program Launch and Orientation
July 19, 2022
- Demo Day