In India, recycling depends upon informal waste pickers who scour through waste, pick out recyclable materials and sell them to recyclers. However, their livelihoods are precarious, with irregular and unfair wages—the equivalent of just €1 per day. At the same time, only 29% of waste ends up being recycled.
Social-business entrepreneur Roshan Miranda saw an opportunity to address the environmental challenges of waste recycling while also improving the livelihoods of waste pickers. He co-founded Waste Ventures India, a social business that works with waste pickers to boost their income and India’s recycling efforts.
In Hyderabad, Waste Ventures has created a formal market for recyclables, helping more than 1,300 waste pickers increase their income by up to 25%. And in the last year alone, it has collected more than 674 tons of waste and prevented 2,397 tons of CO2 emissions.
Finance and business support
Our partnership with Yunus Social Business supports entrepreneurs like Roshan to grow businesses that offer social benefits to people living in poverty and create 100,000 jobs in India and Kenya.
Since 2018, Yunus Social Business has provided Waste Ventures with financing and support to scale its revenues and impact. Roshan and his team not only received loan funding to cover their upfront payroll but have also gained a close partnership to help them strengthen and expand their business. This has enabled them to reach profitability while doubling the number of waste pickers they work with.
Not alone during COVID-19
COVID-19 has threatened the survival of many small businesses in India. But thanks to ongoing support from Yunus Social Business during the pandemic, Waste Ventures was able to provide free meals for waste pickers out of a job, while adapting its business model to respond to the situation. Roshan said: “During COVID-19, we have realised that we are not alone at all.”
As 2020 draws to a close, we will continue to work together to support social businesses that achieve the highest social and environmental returns.
With much talk of a “new normal,” social businesses offer a compelling example of how business can be a force for good.