Monday, June 24, 2019

Swiss Re is Working Towards Affordable and Accessible Water Treatment

The first edition of Swiss Re Bangalore’s Shine social entrepreneurship programme saw Pure Paani, a social enterprise dedicated to affordable drinking water, complete a successful run. Shine is an initiative that combines social innovation with entrepreneurial thinking to shape next-generation Swiss Re leaders and help early-stage entrepreneurs achieve wider social impact.

Co-created by Swiss Re Foundation and Swiss Re Bangalore, Shine represents the company’s strategic commitment to realizing Sustainable Development Goals. Through this programme, Swiss Re Bangalore shares expertise on business acumen and encourages out-of-the-box thinking to solve problems. The larger objective is to help maximize social impact by teaming up with the right experts, collaborating with diverse partners – from University research bodies to think tanks – through social enterprises to enable organizations and development-focused NGOs.

Amit Kalra, MD and Head of Swiss Re Global Business Solutions Centre Bangalore said, "As a young and growing office of the company, Swiss Re Bangalore focuses on nurturing socially aware leaders as part of its Talent Development strategy. We all have a collective responsibility towards the communities in which we operate, and I strongly believe the solutions to most of our pressing social challenges will come through innovative and entrepreneurial thinking.

Swiss Re globally is committed to making the world more resilient, and that includes empowering and enabling the less privileged in the society to be able to realise their potential."

Swiss Re Foundation, in association with BOOKBRIDGE, a social enterprise, and Ashoka, a leading NGO nurturing social entrepreneur, supports ideas and initiatives that address social and civic challenges pertaining to any region in India. This is in addition to the on-going focus on girls' education from Swiss Re Bangalore.

Stefan Huber Fux, Head of Swiss Re Foundation, said, "The Swiss Re Shine programme is modelled on our Global Entrepreneurs Program (GEP). We not only support an aspiring social entrepreneur to help boost socio-economic development but also empower Swiss Re employees to become socially conscious. It is a co-learning platform for them where they are encouraged to push their boundaries as professionals by supporting the social entrepreneur with its business plan.”

Swiss Re selects an aspiring/early-stage entrepreneur based on his/her holistic understanding of the social challenge and innovative approach to the solution, among other parameters. The innovator then undergoes a four-month immersive training programme during which it collaborates with experts, a business coach, and leaders in Swiss Re to develop a financially viable and as well as structurally feasible business model that can scale up.

The outcome of this intense training is then presented to a 'Shark Tank' panel who decides if the business case merits the final grant. Following this, the progress of this new social enterprise is monitored to analyze impact.

Pure Paani, the winner of the first edition of the Shine programme, is a Bangalore-based business whose mission is to make drinking water available to all by providing access to affordable filtration and treatment solutions. Through a collaboration of designers, technicians and engineers, Pure Paani is focused on developing a series of portable, high-flow water filters and pumps which resident entrepreneurs can use to provide water treatment services to their neighbors at a sustainable price.

Speaking on the partnership with Swiss Re, Kaylea Brase, Co-founder and Director of Pure Paani said, "The Shine programme came at a critical time in my entrepreneurial journey, when I was looking for encouragement and guidance on how to grow and scale the business. Collaborating with a talented team of Swiss Re employees helped me persevere through the challenges and celebrate the successes towards sustainability.

The team's focus on the business plan empowered me to communicate the vision, bring key stakeholders together, and increase both the product readiness and market readiness to enable long-term impact. We now plan to expand our product offerings, build our team, and increase our impact to other communities within India."

The Call to Action for the second edition of Swiss Re’s Shine programme will kickstart from June and the focus will be to Incubate resilience in India in any of the focus areas of Climate Risk Management, Smart Agriculture, Access to Healthcare, and Renewable Energy.

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