Calling all entrepreneurs to the Rickshaw Rising Challenge
The recently launched Rickshaw Rising Challenge provides a breakthrough opportunity for entrepreneurs and small businesses to change the face of urban mobility in India. The Challenge calls for applications from early-stage businesses with the potential to create large-scale change in India’s auto-rickshaw sector and respond to the challenges of urbanization. Over the next 20 years, an additional 200 million people will move to Indian cities, bringing the total to 600 million urban residents by 2030. This level of urbanization will bring significant mobility challenges, and with them the opportunity to positively transform the way people work, move, and live in cities. Because efficient, sustainable transport creates liveable and healthier cities, businesses that promote public, intermediate, and non-motorized forms of transport have the potential increase the quality of life for India’s urban residents.
There is currently little support for emerging businesses trying to advance sustainable mobility options in India. To address this opportunity gap, EMBARQ India and the Shell Foundation have launched the Rickshaw Rising Challenge. The Challenge seeks proposals that address challenges in quality of service, access, safety, environmental impact, and driver livelihood in the auto-rickshaw sector.
Making way for new ideas in India’s auto-rickshaw sector
Auto-rickshaws are ubiquitous in Indian cities. These three-wheeled taxis help transport millions of people across cities and provide end-mile connectivity. As an intermediate form of public transport, auto-rickshaws comprise up to 20% of daily trips in Indian cities. They are also a critical source of employment, with estimates pointing to more than 5 million auto-rickshaw drivers in India.
Formalizing the historically unorganized auto-rickshaw sector is imperative to creating sustainable Indian cities. The private sector has the distinct opportunity to create more efficient auto-rickshaw fleets in terms of improving access, service quality, safety, driver income, and reducing emissions.
EMBARQ India has worked to bring innovations and reforms to the often overlooked, but critical, auto-rickshaw sector since 2010, beginning with a report that highlighted the sector’s challenges and opportunities. The Rickshaw Rising Summit was launched in 2012 to become a leading platform for dialogue between stakeholders. EMBARQ India has since partnered with the cities of Rajkot and Chennai to pilot an auto-fleet service and a regulatory toolkit to set auto-rickshaw fares, respectively. Most recently, EMBARQ India worked with the state government of Tamil Nadu on regulation reforms for intermediate public transport, including auto-rickshaws. Each of these partnerships introduced further structure and regulation to the auto-rickshaw sector, improving the experience for both passengers and drivers.
Designing the Challenge to promote scale
Entrepreneurial initiatives in the Indian auto-rickshaw sector have targeted fleet operations, engine and fuel technology, smartphone applications, and driver training services. However, previous efforts have yet to achieve large-scale impact. The design of the Challenge draws on EMBARQ India and Shell Foundation’s work with entrepreneurs in this sector. In addition to early-stage funding, it is critical for entrepreneurs to have business development support, technical and design expertise, and avenues to access local stakeholders and authorities. The Rickshaw Rising Challenge offers awardees up to USD $50,000 and 6 months support from EMBARQ India and Shell Foundation to make meaningful improvements to the auto-rickshaw sector.
Apply to the Challenge
The Rickshaw Rising Challenge will support initiatives with a viable business idea, with priority given to solutions that:
- Improve operational efficiency, health impact, and emission reductions
- Improve customer accessibility, experience, and safety
- Improve driver experience, education, health & safety, and income
- Explore the role of IT as a disruptor in the industry
- Solutions with scale-up potential
Following the progress of the Challenge
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About the Challenge’s partners
EMBARQ India catalyzes and helps implement environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable urban mobility and urban planning solutions to improve people’s quality of life in Indian cities. Actively working in India since 2008, the EMBARQ India team has grown to over 30 professionals with local and international expertise located in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, and Indore. EMBARQ India supports Indian cities in implementing sustainable transport solutions, and has worked with the cities of Jaipur, Indore, Naya Raipur, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, Mumbai, Hubli – Dharwad, and Bangalore, amongst others. EMBARQ India also works closely with the Ministry of Urban Development of the Government of India to build capacity and inform policy.
Founded in 2002 as a program of the World Resources Institute (WRI), EMBARQ operates as a global network of centers in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Turkey and the Andean region. The EMBARQ network collaborates with local and national authorities, businesses, academics, and civil society to reduce pollution, improve public health, and create safe, accessible, and attractive urban public spaces and integrated transport systems. EMBARQ has built its global recognition on its local experience, and experience addressing national and international policies and finance.
The Shell Foundation is an independent charity established in 2000 that catalyzes scalable and sustainable solutions to global development challenges, such as urban mobility, access to modern energy, and job creation through small and medium enterprises (SME). Over the last decade, the Foundation has developed an enterprise-based approach to identify major market failures, co-create new business models with long-term strategic partners, and provide extensive business support to help its partners succeed. Several of Shell Foundation’s partners are now financially-sustainable and achieving large-scale social and environmental impact across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
For more information about the Rickshaw Rising Challenge, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.