The Bengaluru-based Nivedha M has just won the 2019 Impact Maker Awards in Norway for her waste management system and took home prize money worth Rs 40 lakh
By Shevlin Sebastian
It was cold inside the Skur13 hall in Oslo, Norway during the evening of October 10. A group of 35 entrepreneurs stood on a stage in pin-drop silence. They were from all over the world: UK, USA, Kenya, Botswana and India. Among them was the Bengaluru-based entrepreneur Nivedha M. She is the founder of the Trashbot machine that can automatically separate bio-degradable and non-biodegradable waste.
Nivedha was wearing a black coat and shiny black boots. The Norwegian Trade Minister Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry, Torbjørn Røe said, “And the winner is” … there was a pause and then he shouted, “TrashCon (the name of the company).”
Nivedha felt as if a bolt of lightning had hit her. Then, breaking out into a never-ending smile, she stepped forward and received a plaque and a large cardboard cheque from the minister. The plaque identified her as the winner of the 2019 Impact Maker Awards. This is a global competition for entrepreneurs who can provide unconventional solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems. And the prize money is a cool Rs 40 lakh.
The Impact Maker Awards has been instituted by the Norway-based group Xynteo, and consists of major companies like Unilever, Mastercard, General Electric and Tatas. These firms are looking for innovative solutions for the world’s problems.
And through a vote of the 500 plus delegates in the hall, which consisted of people like the CEO of Ikea Jesper Brodin and the co-founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales, they voted for TrashCon as having made the most impact.
Nivedha had never expected to get the award. The earlier winners were mostly Europeans and Americans. “This was the first time an Indian was winning,” says Nivedha.
When asked on stage what she would do with the money, Nivedha said, “Each of these digits will impact a thousand lives. We can create an end-to-end waste management system which includes segregation and recycling. According to my calculations, for each digit, we can prevent 300 tonnes of waste going to a landfill every month, through the use of Trashbot.” Incidentally, the recycled waste from the Trashbot can be used to make biogas and plywood-type boards. So there is no waste whatsoever.
Xynteo has also extended support to Nivedha to help her scale up the production. “We are making 10 machines a month,” she says. “Now they will help us to make 100 machines and later there will be a global outreach.”
A chemical engineer who graduated from the Rashtreeya Vidyalaya College of Engineering, the 24-year-old says, “I have found my life’s purpose. I want to create a time where there is no trash anywhere in the world.”
(Published in The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode and Bangalore)