DBS Foundation Awards Grants to Six Agents of Change Businesses from Shark Tank India

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Mumbai:  In line with its focus on championing businesses for impact, the DBS Foundation awarded grants to six sustainability-focused enterprises that were featured in Season 3 of Shark Tank India. The selected enterprises have a dual bottom line of both profit and purpose, i.e., positive social or environmental impact integrated into their business model. The DBS Foundation aims to encourage these startups to unlock growth via grant funding and non-financial support in the form of mentorship, networking, and capacity building.

DBS Bank India partnered with Sony Entertainment Television to co-power Season 3 of Shark Tank India. The funding by the DBS Foundation of the six sustainability-focused businesses featured on the show is in line with the Bank’s underlying belief that these enterprises can be agents of change while contributing to economic growth. The grant size for each enterprise ranges from INR 5 Lakhs to 15 Lakhs and will be utilised by the respective winners to build consumer awareness, scale operations, and deploy technology to enhance productivity.

The DBS Foundation, through its Business for Impact (BFI) chapter, aims to catalyse the growth of purpose-driven businesses like the six sustainability-focused enterprises featured on Shark Tank India Season 3.

Startups:

The Honest Home Company stands out for its mission to reduce plastic usage by offering responsible packaging alternatives. 

Dharaksha Ecosolutions creates biodegradable alternatives for packaging materials to curb stubble burning and plastic pollution.

Without (by Ashaya) is a social enterprise that produces sunglasses from unrecyclable plastic waste and multi-layered plastic, such as packets of chips. 

FarmDidi is a foodtech startup, operating as a direct-to-consumer brand with a mission to provide high-quality food and empower one million rural women.  

XMachines offers robotic solutions for farm operations to address the growing scarcity of agricultural labour.

Interestingly, one of the DBS Foundation’s previous grant awardees, Trestle Labs, was also featured on Shark Tank India Season 3 and will now receive additional funding as part of this cohort. Their product, Kibo (Knowledge in a Box), makes education and employment inclusive, overcoming barriers such as language, literacy, and print disabilities like blindness, low vision, and dyslexia. 

Shoma Narayanan, Managing Director, and Head, Group Strategic Marketing & Communications, DBS Bank India, said, “Our partnership with Shark Tank India and Sony Entertainment Television has helped us enhance our outreach to the start-up segment. It has also given us access to some groundbreaking Businesses for Impact that are leveraging innovation to make a positive impact on the environment and society. By supporting the growth of the grant recipients through the DBS Foundation we hope to help them further scale up their impact.”

The DBS Foundation worked with Sony Entertainment Television and Shark Tank India teams to identify sustainable enterprises out of the larger number of applicants who were profiled on the televised series. These nominees were then required to submit a detailed application form to the DBS Foundation explaining their business model, financials, and potential impact, along with a pitch process to a jury comprising senior leadership from DBS Bank India and the DBS Foundation.

The goal of the DBS Foundation is to create a long-lasting and sustainable impact and to inspire all businesses to adopt responsible methods of production and consumption. In 2023, the DBS Foundation engaged with over 3,80,000 stakeholders including customers, SMEs, social enterprises, students, and partners through a variety of forums and partnerships.

Many of these social enterprises, bolstered by DBS support, have scaled significantly. For example, Haqdarshak is an award-winning enterprise that enables last-mile access to social protection and financial inclusion for India’s low-income and marginalised communities. It has worked with the DBS Foundation since 2018. Haqdarshak appeared on the second season of Shark Tank India and impressed the panel with its for-profit approach to social impact, receiving a joint offer of INR 1 Crore for 2 per cent equity from the Sharks. It has trained over 38,000 field agents and provided benefits worth over INR 17,000 Crores to over six million Indian citizens and 48,000 micro-businesses.