Shiv Rao Challa is a brilliant example of a man driven by a mission. Having worked with major MNCs in 12 countries, this computer engineer explored more than 50 countries in quest of learning about the people and their culture. Halted by the pandemic, Shiv reflected upon his life and its goals. His inner conscience asked him to work for a cause that was nearing a crisis situation. And that’s how he got stuck with sustainability. Immediately Shiv started to take a course from ECOLE Europe on Solid Waste Management, a diploma to broaden his horizon and learn some theoretical knowledge before jumping into the entrepreneurship bandwagon.
In the initial days, his wife Jayashree, daughter Simran and sisterin-law Meenakshi supported him in creating the thought processes and ground research. Initially, Shiv was inclined to start the project for plastic waste, but in due course of time it was determined based on practical research that India is doing very good in managing plastic waste, much better than the USA, Europe and China. India had at that point of time 3,500+ plastic waste recyclers both formal and informal. Shiv then decided he will not be a part of the crowd and wanted to do some niche projects.
During his further research, he found a category of waste, which is more hazardous and killing minimum one person every day in India and no one is counting this number because it’s not good to count. Yes, you guessed it right, it is e-waste.
India purchases 853,000,000 electronic items every year and most of them today have an average life of 3/4 years. So what happens to all that e-waste? It was also found that across India (Arunachal to Kutch or Leh to Kanyakumari) the leftover e-waste is transported to Delhi [actually Ghaziabad]. Almost 40 per cent of registered ewaste recyclers are existing in the NCR as it plays as a hub for e-waste.
Data showed that e-waste, if not managed properly today, could have disastrous consequences for future generations. E-waste disposal pollutes ground water, soil and air to hazardous levels. Shiv found that 85 per cent of the recyclers were using unethical means that were affecting the health of the informal workers, killing at least one every day. This needed to change and the change had to begin with him taking the first step.
Shiv first desired of entrepreneurship in March 2020; established company in July that year, recruited top management by October, established an e-waste plant by December and began operations by March 2021.
Shiv first set up an e-waste recycling plant based on the Green Factory concept. This prevented 155,000 kg of waste from entering the landfills. He spread an innovative 4 Dustbin concept to more than 265,000 citizens of India in a span of 18 months of operations. He started networking about his startup since March ’20 across the world and developed a core team of 20+ ambassadors across the world from Japan to San Francisco.
During this journey he met Michael Rada, Founder of Industry 5.0. He is an advocate of Industry 5.0, a systematic waste prevention approach from Czech Republic.
Initially Shiv had to face many challenges for funding as none of the banks was ready to fund for projects; mainly all banks excused you are a startup and we do not have any schemes. Shiv once again raised voice at all the platforms but till date not a single bank, which includes PSU banks, private banks, SIDBI and VC etc., has moved. He used to casually say If Shiv can’t get a loan what is the situation of a thousand of great ideas of India, which are dying because of this. Hopefully, things will change soon!
Collaboration is the key to success. Shiv’s mantra towards startup ecosystem is if we will not get support, we will not give up hope; we will collaborate with likeminded startups and help ourselves. With this, he started mentoring 4 E-waste startups across the country.
His latest innovation is a mobile application platform for rewarding citizens for sustainable actions – segregation at source, home composting, upcycling and buying recycled products etc. Shiv’s work is nothing short of a revolutionary movement to make our earth clean and green for our future generations.