SweepSmart and DGGF have joined forces to clean up India's streets

Cleaner streets in India and better conditions for those who earn their living in the waste sector: this is the mission of social enterprise SweepSmart. The Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF) is supporting Dutch initiators Niels van den Hoek and Silvia de Vaan in getting their company off the ground.

India, with its population of around 1.3 billion, suffers from polluted streets and rivers. Each day, no fewer than three million refuse-laden trucks dump their loads, resulting in enormous rubbish tips.
We want to convert waste into happiness and for people to be proud of their jobs,’ says SweepSmart. ‘In India, there are more than 1.5 million “waste pickers”, people who make their living collecting and processing waste. They often live and work under hazardous and unhygienic conditions in the streets and at dumps.'

More effective and efficient

SweepSmart has to date opened two facilities or locations, with a possible third one to be opened in the near term. The introduction of a conveyor belt means waste can be sorted more effectively and efficiently. The conveyor belt has also resulted in a radical change to working conditions.

Given that workers previously sat on the ground to sort waste, their current conditions represent a huge improvement in terms of both ergonomics and hygiene. SweepSmart has also launched a business model that is yielding higher incomes for workers.

Cooperation with local partners

SweepSmart is combining its business knowledge and European waste-management expertise with the local enterpreneurship of the informal recycling sector.
SweepSmart: 'For example, we are working together with the local Indian authorities, waste picker organisations, local refuse companies and a CSR initiative, "I Got Garbage", of India’s largest IT company. They provide part of the software for the logistics process via an IT platform.'

Excellent results with much development impact

According to DGGF, the launch of SweepSmart has been fully satisfactory and it has already produced excellent results, in terms of both the company's long-term commercial feasibility and development cooperation. The development impact is significant not only because of the value of the knowledge being transferred and increased production capacity, but also because SweepSmart is generating employment for local people.

Collaboration with SweepSmart has proved valuable for the two local companies involved, which have been able to dramatically improve their business operations and collect and process more waste. They are also able to fetch higher prices. The increased production capacity means more jobs and substantially improved working conditions and hygiene. The local authorities of Bangalore acknowledge the valuable tie-up with SweepSmart, which aims to roll out its concept to other locations in the future.

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Are you a budding entrepreneur with a similar initiative in a DGGF country? Share your ideas with us via DGGFTA@rvo.nl and let us explore the possibilities together. Or view more information on international DGGF funding.