Everyone loves rags to riches stories. The one about turning old discarded polythene bags into chic carry bags and fashion accessories sold in London super markets could be one of them.
That is the story of Conserve HRP, the start-up founded by an engineer and artist couple Shalabh and Anita Ahuja in an obscure Delhi slum hiring a few rag pickers to train them to make them fashionable bags.
The story has had a happy ending. It has been one of the three companies which have bagged the first major green investment after being showcased by a new green business initiative of Confederation of Indian Industry in association with World Research Institute and USAID.
Conserve bagged a two million Euro deal from Danish fashion business retailer Bestseller. Conserve has formed a private limited company called BS Studio & Services India Pvt Ltd and Bestseller will invest the sum in it.
This newly formed company will have access to 3,500 retail stores in Europe, Middle East and China. In addition to providing a continuous supply of recycled, environmentally friendly, fashion accessories, BS Studio India will also provide Bestseller, Architectural Design services and IT enabled services infrastructure.
New Ventures India , a joint initiative of the CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre and the World Resource Institute, Washington DC, targets investments worth Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) in India over the next three years.
The forum, which is supported by USAID, is looking at investment opportunities in environment friendly business and expects to facilitate investments in at least 50 green enterprises by 2010. The forum launched a Green Investors Network recently in Mumbai. The network includes investors from India and abroad and consists of venture capital firms, angel investors, banks and financial institutions.
Says Madhav Kamath, speaking on behalf of New Ventures: "Our job is to facilitate the coming together of green investment ideas and investors. NVI, which primarily has been set up to mentor and help companies running businesses with clean technologies get investments, has already helped facilitate investments in a total of three small and medium enterprises including Conserve HRP.
Bangalore based HMX Sumaya, provides energy saving solutions and ABT Bioproducts of Pune makes bio-fertilisers, bio-pesticides and soil fertility enhancers.
HMX Sumaya got a debt funding from ICICI Bank of Rs 4.99 crore (Rs 49.9 million) under the Energy Conservation and Commercialisation program of USAID. ABT Bioproducts was funded by an angel investor from Mumbai with Rs 50 lakh (Rs 5 million).
"By providing investment opportunities to these companies, NVI is helping in making India a leader in green businesses," said Jamshyd N Godrej, chairman, CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre.
"India is set for massive growth in the coming years. Clean and green businesses will lead to lesser environmental impacts for each unit growth of GDP, and thus will help us grow in a sustainable manner," said Godrej.