One-line solution summary:
Enabling climate and gender justice by leveraging the power of design, technology, lingual and regional context in rural Karnataka.
Pitch your solution.
India generates nearly 170,000 tonnes of solid waste per day of which less than 60% is collected. Most of this is dumped in a landfill.
Improper waste management has been linked to disease, pollution, and soil contamination. Proper waste management requires committed community participation.
In rural India, women are key agents for development. They have a direct impact on climate action efforts, as the primary managers of household activities. Through the use of a vernacular waste management app, waste collectors are trained to segregate and upcycle waste and educate their communities to develop more ecologically friendly lifestyle practices while reducing the proportion of landfill waste.
Our methodologies and vernacular, context-driven waste management technology allow communities across the world to learn about the unique waste they generate locally and explore clear solutions to developing sustainable practices that they can then adopt.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
The world generates 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually; each person generates an average of 0.74 kilograms, every day with the range varying from 0.11 to 4.54 kilograms. Moreover, waste is set to increase by more than three times by 2050 in low-income countries. India's annual waste generation is at 62 million tonnes, with an average annual growth rate of 4 percent. Total MSW generation in the state of Karnataka is 6,500 tons per day
Coastal communities in Karnataka, (population as per the last census 144,960 in Udupi & 499,487 in Mangalore) are sheltered by the Western Ghats on the east and bordered by the Arabian Sea on the west. Industrialization, improper land use, unsustainable economic activities, and overexploitation of natural resources have adversely affected the coastal environment.
The impact of the existing waste dumping system today is humungous—to human health, the environment, and the socioeconomic well-being of an estimated 700,000 people who live in the Coastal communities of Karnataka.
A combination of gender-sensitive response to climate change, and technological intervention with regional context is what is lacking with current solutions for waste management.
What is your solution?
Our solution uses a two-pronged approach of upskilling for women and infrastructure development.
Both platforms together create a hybrid model that focuses on climate and gender justice, sustainable consumption, and livelihoods.
The focus on infrastructural development includes partnering with panchayats to train and manage women’s SHGs in waste collection and segregation for a predetermined period of time until the women become self-sustaining.
With our focus on upskilling, we train women to collect and segregate waste and use our low-literacy supportive waste management app as a tool to input data and observe the waste, draw insights from the nature of waste collected, recycle or upcycle all reusable waste, and then advise and educate their communities, on ways to reduce unsustainable waste while increasing the proportion of reusable waste.
The app will be available in the local languages and utilize a lot of relatable imagery and icons for easy navigation and usage. The women will also access courses for basic digital literacy on the app. By harnessing technology and entrepreneurship to streamline waste management, we generate gainful and meaningful employment for women, thus enabling financial independence.
We require interconnected solutions to meet interconnected challenges such as climate change, waste, and gender justice.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
Our initial target population is the local communities in Udupi; women’s Self help groups, members of the Gram Panchayats, shopkeepers who aspire to products that are brought in from the metros and are otherwise not eco-friendly, those that are heavily marketed and pretty packaging. Typically, they do not have access to organized waste management services or knowledge. As a later phase we would expand to women in rural communities across the world who can benefit from livelihood opportunities, and consumers globally, who want to transition to sustainability. The common link amongst them is a need to transition for sustainable and affordable consumption.
Even before COVID-19 caused a dramatic increase in waste dumping in India, the country was struggling with waste disposal and severe unemployment in rural areas. We want to enable the safe management of waste by enabling women to bounce back from disruptions caused by COVID-19 by upskilling them in waste management and economically empowering them.
We are developing our solution in close partnership with MGIRED, local panchayats of Udupi District and the rural SHGs we work with and we are ensuring that it is understandable, accessible, and wanted by our women workers and panchayats. We are training the local population through eco waste ed programs, and also coaching the women interested in waste management thoroughly about the ins and outs of collection, handling, segregation and processing. Secondly, instead of rolling out a standard, tech product modelled on existing complicated waste management systems, we are prioritizing implementations that will not only save time for women waste workers but will also upskill, empower and delight them instead of intimidating them.
We have received funding from PEP Charles Limpens Private Limited and small donations from local businesses to analyze the waste collected and generated. We are receiving mentoring sessions from NSRCEL IIM Bangalore and will receive feedback from them on our evolving technology offerings and waste management methodologies.
Since March 2020, We have roughly 100 women working with us, a lot of them are involved in the waste management centers we are running for the Panchayat. We are working on a simple, vernacular app that can be used by these women to input information from the center and also get access to updates and education. A lot of women are deprived of access to useful content and education and consequently, more efficient means of functioning due to language barriers and perception of tech being complicated. We are going to change that.
We are implementing the following activities and observing results in Udupi district at the moment:
An end-to-end waste management model
Community Enabled Climate Action
Changing the Language of Climate Conversation
Trained staff at decentralized processing centers
Turning waste into new products in a meticulously managed process driven by data and technology.
We work closely with women to influence their awareness, thought processes and decisions concerning waste management, as they are the primary decision-makers concerning lifestyle choices of their family unit. By harnessing technology and entrepreneurship to streamline waste management, we generate gainful and meaningful employment for women, thus enabling financial independence.
Our study gains more ground and credibility due to greater conversations and conversions, and women’s position as decision-makers is bolstered in the community. Our intervention interweaves design, tech and social impact to solve environmental problems, thus making impactees the direct stakeholders by driving a high sense of empathy, accountability and scalability.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Create scalable economic opportunities for local communities, including fishing, timber, tourism, and regenerative agriculture, that are aligned with thriving and biodiverse ecosystems
Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.
Waste collection and management—is becoming a growing challenge to communities grappling with the fallout from COVID-19. The world generates over 2 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste, annually. In low-income countries, the volume of waste is expected to triple by 2050. Women have little access to environmental goods and services; and negligible participation in decision-making, and are not involved in the distribution of environmental management benefits. We make waste management practices sustainable and economically beneficial for rural communities while empowering women to turn waste into wealth in a meticulously managed process driven by data and technology.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Udupi, Karnataka, India
What is your solution’s stage of development?Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community.
Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.
We are piloting our methodology and technology in Coastal Karnataka by working with rural women. At the moment, 100 women are working in our waste management centres for collection, segregation and processing of waste. Out of which 60 women are testing the app and a team of 15 women working on upcycling some of the reusable waste which is then sold in the markets, back to the community we are servicing and collecting waste from. The community that we are servicing through waste management are local residents and businesses which amount to around 120000 people.
Who is the Team Lead for your solution?
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful
What makes your solution innovative?
We enable active community-led climate action by designing and implementing solutions whilst empowering women by generating employment and upskilling them by leveraging the power of vernacular communications & technology. We use the regional language to build sustainable advocacy that resonates with the locals, thus enabling rural India to be empowered with the means to communicate their ideas concerning sustainability and conservation. Through establishing a strong and relevant context, we create visibility around the disconnect with the severity of the climate crisis, while debunking myths related to climate solutions being seen as oppressive, unsustainable, and economically devastating for rural communities. We work closely with women to influence their awareness, thought processes and decisions concerning waste management, as they are the primary decision-makers concerning lifestyle choices of their family unit. By harnessing technology and entrepreneurship to streamline waste management, we generate gainful and meaningful employment for women, thus enabling financial independence. The movement gains more ground and credibility due to greater conversations and conversions, and women’s position as decision-makers is bolstered in the community. Our intervention interweaves design, tech and social impact to solve environmental problems, thus making impactees the direct stakeholders by driving a high sense of empathy, accountability and scalability.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
In which countries do you currently operate?
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?
Now: We currently service a population of 120000 which comprises households, businesses and govt institutions through a pilot program. Our NGO employs 100 people and has provided waste management services to close to 30 panchayats in the last year.
One year from now: In one year, we will Establish or enable the establishment of our waste management model in 60 more Panchayats in Coastal belt and Westen Ghats of Karnataka, combined. We aim to generate employment for at least 150 women in 2022. The population this will serve is 260000. Our app will be able to save an additional 2 hours per day that goes in weighing waste collection. Each centre will be able to automate fees collection from residents. Upskilling will give rural women confidence to handle technology.
We will be launching our Software for Circular Economy on a pilot basis outside our waste management centres to test with local businesses. We would also do a pilot project of installing iOT enabled waste bins in 5 panchayats to test its efficacy.
Five years from now: In five years, we will be employing our model on an ongoing basis in a minimum of 1500 panchayats. Our goal is to empower 400 rural women per district in Karnataka who will transfer the training and further empower another 2 women per month to join the effort and set up local centres in other districts of the state. The estimated population that will benefit from this model will be 65,00,000.
How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?
We have aligned our work with four of the seventeen internationally-accepted Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) , centred around climate change (SDG 13), inclusive, sustainable and resilient cities (SDG 11), inclusive and sustained economic growth with full and productive employment (SDG 08) and achieving gender equality (SDG 05). We work with an end to end model that rests on strong core beliefs concerning regional advocacy, reviving indigenious notions of sustainability and conservation, economic empowerment and technological innovation in order to dispel myths about sustainability being unrealistic, impractical and/or unachievable. On average, we collect 30,000 kgs of recyclable waste and convert it into effective means for rural women to gain employment and economic independence. We have partnered with individuals, communities, organizations, SHG’s, universities and governments alike in order to co-design interventions and track sustainable impact, working towards scalability. Through our model, we aim to replace transgenerational poverty with education, enablement and economic empowerment, mainly focusing on women. We have conducted 46 workshops for school children across Udupi District, enabled adoption of powerful alternatives to plastic across 5000 households and have managed to divert 4,20,000 kilos of waste from contaminating the ocean over the last six months.
What type of organization is your solution team?
Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit
How many people work on your solution team?
Full Time staff: 20
Part-time staff: 30
Other workers: 15
How long have you been working on your solution?
One Year 3 months
How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
Divya Hegde is our founder and team lead, a Google alumna and graduate of Northwestern University. She's a UN Women Awardee for Leadership Commitment in Gender Equality. She brings different components of TIP Sessions together, brings in the resources and sets the path for the team to realise their vision. She brings her 15 experience of marketing, problem solving and heading design teams to TIP Sessions.
Anup Shetty - Head of Operations
Anup is one of the founding members of the TIP team He is a social worker who enjoys a great rapport with local communities as well as with the local government bodies. His role is crucial in maintaining local relationships and recruiting local talent. He keeps his ears to the ground and we turn to him for planning and implementing local programs and events. He is the force behind the smooth operations at all waste management centres.
Vijaya Lakshmi - Chief Supervisor She plays a pivotal role in setting up TIP Session’s waste management centers. She headed Karnataka’s first Solid Liquid Resource Management Project and was recognized by the Government of India for her passion and contribution in turning around the garbage crisis in Wandse, Kundapur district through sheer hard work and determination. She enjoys a great rapport with women’s groups and strongly believes in the importance of waste management and the TiP Sessions hybrid model.
What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?
Without equity, diversity and inclusion efforts are unsustainable. Therefore we provide all people with fair opportunities to attain their full potential. We recognize and appreciate the differences and similarities that include team and individual values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, and behaviors.Therefore we are constantly working on recognizing and engaging differences within the team and outside. We equip managers and empower our teams to explore and be accepting of diverse perspectives, assumptions, and approaches. Within our small organization we want to build DEI from infancy into the DNA of culture. As we grow, across all leaders will be given tools and support as they improve their ability to identify and mitigate bias, respect differences, build empathetic relationships, foster allyship, manage conflict, and bring out the best in others.
We are committed to women empowerment and strongly believe that they are our biggest ally in fighting the waste crisis. We work with a diverse set of people from different backgrounds and have supported transgender communities in Udupi District during COVID-19 lockdowns. We employ differently abled and aged people as well and have been instrumental in providing food and medicines free of cost across Udupi, Chikmagalur and Mangalore to COVID-19 affected families, senior citizens, and patients with comorbidities, and also to residents of special schools.
We also distributed PPE Kits and essentials to ASHA and frontline workers in the region by hosting a fundraising event online.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?Organizations (B2B)
Why are you applying to Solve?
We work with the repercussions of climate change in the second-most populous country in the world by adopting an approach that is firmly rooted in civic awareness, sustainable consumption, and livelihood. Through regional language advocacy, we invite local experts in climate action to open dialogues about indigenous practices surrounding sustainability and cultural relevance, thus creating the shift from talking down to talking with. Then, we engage with the local government(s) by supporting waste management in homes and waste segregation centers. We empower women to use the collected waste to produce handmade products, thus contributing to economic empowerment. We are working on a vernacular app for these women to enter information from the center while getting access to updates and waste education, thus harnessing technology to scale our intervention(s) and tie them all together. This unique hyperlocal, technology-driven approach requires complete community immersion. The funds will let us create a sustainable and consistent buy-in for our model from grassroots stakeholders, thus ensuring that their livelihoods are scaled sustainably. Additionally, we can leverage this opportunity to be mentored by some of the world’s most sought-after social impact influencers, thus making us a thought leader in the Indian sustainability space.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?
NGOs that work with ocean plastics would be a great connect, owing to our work on the coastal belt. We can study and understand how ocean waste is processed and potentially set up a small unit to employ women from the fisheries community.
MIT faculty to guide us with data analysis.
Any organization that works with biodiversity conservation, eg: Re:Wild. We are flanked by the coast on one side and western ghats which is a UNESCO heritage site on the other side. Th western ghats are heavily impacted by garbage that is not handled, biodiversity loss due to construction and lack of political will to reforest. We work closely with environmentalists on the western ghats and a powerful organization can help us convince the government to take a strong stance against ruining the ghats and also be a powerful motivator for the general public to participate in waste management.
We’d like to partner with UN Habitat as they are already working in Karnataka to study plastics on the coast.
Any solve members working in the waste management sector or circular economy space would be a fantastic partner for us to learn from and collaborate with.
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.
No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The GM Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.
No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.
Yes, I wish to apply for this prize
Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use the Innovation for Women Prize to advance your solution?
Our solution to the waste crisis is based on upskilling women in handling technology and economically empowering them. Aside from basic digital literacy being made available to women in vernacular languages, they will also be studying and handling more complex technology like iOT. Through our model, we aim to replace transgenerational poverty with education, enablement and economic empowerment, mainly focusing on women. We have conducted 46 waste management workshops across Udupi District, enabled adoption of powerful alternatives to plastic across 5000 households, upskilled more than 100 rural women and generated livelihoods for them and have managed to divert 4,20,000 kilos of waste from contaminating the ocean over the last six months by training women. We work with women to generate gainful and meaningful employment for them. The Innovation for Women prize will help us continue building financial independence for women while fostering community led dialogue to make them more resilient to climate change.
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Minderoo Prize to End Global Overfishing? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.
No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The ServiceNow Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The AI for Humanity Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The GSR Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.
- Ms Divya Hegde Founder, TIP SESSIONS, TIP SESSIONS CHARITABLE TRUST