POWERED Accelerator Selects 10 Women Entrepreneurs in Energy for Its First Cohort, Applications Now Open for the 2nd Cohort

Selected entrepreneurs to get one year of mentoring and an equity free $10,000 grant from the program

Ten women entrepreneurs have been selected as the first cohort into the POWERED Accelerator programme and will now receive financial and business support to develop their businesses and deliver solutions in access to energy across India.

In April this year, DFID India, Shell Foundation (the independent global charity), Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and Zone Startups India announced the POWERED Accelerator - a first of its kind entrepreneurship programme focused on twin Sustainable Development Goals of Energy and Diversity. Following the launch in Mumbai, the POWERED Accelerator was launched in six cities across India.

The objective of the POWERED Accelerator is 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 accelerator 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. The top-ten entrepreneurs selected for the first cohort will now 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 $10,000 each.

“Through the POWERED programme we will work towards strengthening the ecosystem for more women-owned and managed businesses across the energy value chain. We are confident that these 10 women entrepreneurs will enable greater inclusion and sustainability towards a more energy secure and equitable future for all,” said Gavin McGillivray, Head, DFID India.

“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,” added Sam Parker, Director, Shell Foundation.

“After 6-roadshows, and close to 2 months of extensive campaigning, we ended up getting more than 130 high-quality applications. Selecting only 10 from a shortlist of 30 businesses was a tough task. We see the entire application pool as a part of a larger funnel of start-ups that presents us with an opportunity to build other interventions in this niche ecosystem. We have some great partners onboard, and we look forward to making the first cohort a grand success," mentioned Ajay Ramasubramaniam, Director. Zone Startups India.

The cohort comprises of start-ups in areas ranging from access to energy, water conservation, application of energy in agriculture, easy finance, last-mile distribution, waste to fuel and more.  

Below is the list of ten women entrepreneurs who have been selected in the first cohort:

1.      Simmi Sareen, Loans4SME

Simmi 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.

2.     Srujana Raghupatruni, Cellerite Systems

Srujana is a postgraduate in Power Systems from IIT Delhi with 7 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.

3.     Puspalata Pani, M/S KUMUDINI ENTERPRISE

Puspalata 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.

4.     Mousumi Medhi, HoneyComb Inventions

Mousumi has 8 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.

5.     Amishi Parasrampuria, Upcycler's Lab

Amishi has 4 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.

6.     Kavita Aggarwal, BluPrints

Kavita 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 specializing in Retail-Tech and Fin-Tech Devices. One of the focuses being a system designed for electricity billing.

7.     Ruchi Jain, Taru Naturals

Ruchi 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 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.

8.    Manvi Dhawan, Agnij-Adjustable Thermoelectric Power Generator

Manvi has 2 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.

9.     Neha Upadhyaya, Guna

Neha 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.

10.        Nidhi Pant, S4S Technologies

Nidhi 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 Technologies manufactures solar dehydrators that are used by farmers for food preservation; they also provide the farmers market linkage to sell these dehydrated food products.

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.

Zone Startups India will continue accepting applications for the next cohort on the website of the POWERED Accelerator.

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