Entrepreneurship isn’t just about selling things; it’s about finding innovative ways to improve people’s lives. New generation of entrepreneurs are using approaches from the commercial world and employing technology to tackle social and environmental problems. Responsible entrepreneurs are those who grow businesses, ensuring stakeholder success and are conscious of how they do business ethically. They are the people who bring new business ideas and fulfill the promise of entrepreneurship by contributing towards creation of a better world.
Embarking a mark in this era of social entrepreneurship is Gaurav Joshi, founder of Extra Carbon. Gaurav has been actively involved in the Waste Management Sector (WMS) since the last 2 years. As per Gaurav, WMS is highly unorganized and therefore, untapped in the Indian economy. The circular commerce (waste-raw material-finished good-waste) can become a resource optimization, money-making opportunity. This makes a strong business case and provides a platform of opportunities, which attracted Gaurav to this space at the outset.
Extra Carbon enables customers to recycle waste, buy & sell second hand items, and make eco-friendly choices that bring rewards to them. The primary goal is to inspire & reward smarter everyday choices that lead to a greener, sustainable future. Extra Carbon collaborates with Resident Welfare Associations (RWA’s)/Societies in order to procure waste paper and other materials which can be recycled. Kabadiwalas play an integral part in this cycle as they act as a communication/logistics channel between the RWAs and Extra Carbon, thereby becoming ‘Green Superheroes’.
Every business has pros and cons associated with it, likewise was the case with Extra Carbon. The urge to serve the nation and improve the state and reputation of “Kabadiwalas” were driving factors for Gaurav to kick start this venture.
Gaurav’s primary focus as an entrepreneur was not only to serve society but also to provide job opportunities and a better lifestyle to the players of the unorganized sector. It wasn’t an easy journey. Like it is rightly said “you knock many doors, some open and some don’t”. It was a daunting task to convince Kabadiwalas to join hands as they considered this venture to be a threat and competition to their source of livelihood. Lot of effort had to be put in order to convince and assure them about the association. Similarly, convincing RWAs was a big challenge during the initial phase.
From the entrepreneur point of view, gaining acceptability in the society and in family with respect to this business plan was quite a task. However the emotional and economic aspect kept Gaurav going.
Over a period of time, people started to understand the importance of Extra Carbon‘s role towards the environment. Although a lot has been done in this direction, there is still a long way to go to bring awareness in the society. Most people look at social entrepreneurship from an NGO mindset. It is important to make entrepreneurs understand the whole journey of this business, the need to be social and still focus on both quality and profit margins. It is imperative to change the mindset of people living in India and abroad to make them aware of waste conversion to a useful resource. Multiple stakeholders and like-minded people should come together to realize the full potential of this valuable resource.