HYDERABAD: After competing with 75 startups that had come from 60 nations across the world, India-based Frontier Markets owned by Ajaita Shah won the Global Innovation through Science and
Technology(GIST) Catalyst Pitch Competition on Thursday. What makes this Rajasthan based startup so special? It boosts of technology that makes last-mile reach of clean energy possible.
The solution to this complex challenge is actually very simple. Frontier Markets procures solar energy-based household items like lanterns, inverters and stoves, and distribute them among rural women traders. These women then go to remote villages and sell them to customers in need. These rural women earn a fixed stipend and extra commission based on sales.
The company not just gives the products, but also trains the women in marketing the items and fixing any basic glitches that could arise during usage. In short, they act as both saleswomen and service personnel. “Our startup is currently benefitting about 1,000 women spread across six states in the country,” said Shah, who is an Overseas Citizen of India. “They earn an income of `65,000 to `1 lakh a year. We are planning to scale up our works to benefit about 10,000 women by 2022,” she added.
“Through our network of women, solar power based products have reached about 4,00,000 households.” As the Grand Champion, Shah will receive $50,000 in Amazon Web Services credits, a Dell laptop, admission to 2018 Circular Summit from Alice, an exclusive virtual mentoring session with an Amazon Executive, $100,000 USD in Google Cloud credits, an interview for Inc. Magazine and $2,000 in cash from Cognizant.