Seed for Change Student Grant Competition
Past Winners and Finalists
Electric carts for street vendors
Team: Gauri Nagpal, Graduate School of Design, Class of 2023
e-Rehri is working towards providing affordable, electric and modular carts for street vendors in Indian cities, making the daily delivery of fresh produce efficient for both the vendors and consumers alike. Electric vehicle technology is retrofitted to traditional Indian street carts, creating an incremental and affordable transition to green energy. Using this method, any existing cart can be transformed into an electric vehicle while retaining its ability to function as a mechanical tricycle cart. Read more.
Capacity building and research lab for school principals, by principals
Team: Jonathan Frank Mendonca, Graduate School of Education, Class of 2022
Rehnuma works with motivated school principals to find simple ways that improve the quality of education in under-resourced schools by using limited resources effectively and leveraging their community. Rehnuma documents these sustainable best practices into short courses and partners with large-scale NGOs, such as Teach for India, to coach and support principals from similar contexts as they implement these practices.
Team: Nosher Ali Khan. Harvard College, Class of 2024
Zhuu Fruits is an agricultural-tech startup that facilitates logistics, branding, packaging and online retail to ensure farm-to-table service for fruits in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Zhuu Fruits will be working with local farmers to ensure that their produce is compensated fairly, customers get the highest quality fresh fruit and there is minimal post-harvest loss.
Winner: Sahayak: Using Data to Connect Industries with Labor in India’s Rural Regions – A major challenge in India is to transform the vast number of unemployed and unskilled people in villages into industry-ready workers, while providing job security. Sahayak is a social enterprise that promotes coordinated skill development to industry requirements in rural areas that are currently experiencing transformation. Sahayak takes form as a digital platform that geo-spatially maps industrial needs in an area where individuals are looking for work. Additionally, a physical network of vocational training centers will provide these workers with the necessary skills through the help of locally invested stakeholders. Read more.
Team Members: Ambika Malhortra ’20, Aeshna Prasad ’21, Harvard Graduate School of Design alumnae who both earned a Master of Architecture in Urban Design.
Saving 9: Saving 9’s motto is ‘You don’t need to be a doctor to saves lives ‘, and the name of our organization comes from the idiom ‘A stitch in time saves 9’. We strongly believe that anyone can learn basic first aid, and hence gain the ability to support a casualty sufficiently during an emergency until they can reach the hospital. It is our organization’s mission to create a ‘safety net’ of first aid ‘literate’ citizens and robust emergency response systems. Our project is focused on creating an emergency response system in a rural village, Pind Begwal.
Team members: Usama Javed Mirza, Saving 9, Co-founder and Program Manager; Muhammad Ovais Siddiqui, Saving 9, Co-founder and Program Finance Head; Zainab Zaheer, Saving 9, Program Coordinator and PR Head; Raissa Chughtai, Harvard College Class of 2021; Saving 9, Program Coordinator and Economic Analyst
Xyal Water: Xyla Water is a water filter company that builds filters based on plant tissues. The purification ability of xylem tissues was discovered and tested by Professor Karnik at MIT. We formed a research collaboration with him to commercialize and make a product out of this filter.
Team members: Syed Waqar Ali Shah, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, PhD Candidate in Mathematics; Iqra Nadeem, MIT, Master of Science Candidate in Technology and Policy Program ; Diane Delava, Academics for Development LLN, CEO; Ali Mannan Tirmizi, Lahore University of Management Sciences Class of 2018
Umbulizer: The team is developing a reliable, low-cost, portable device that can provide continuous ventilation to patients in resource-limited settings in Pakistan.
Pre-Texts: Pre-Texts is an effective and efficient pedagogy that acknowledges local strengths that can help promote development in literacy, innovation, and citizenship. The Pre-Texts protocol can raise literacy in low-resource communities thanks to local arts and languages that serve to interpret English language curricular material.
Team members: Anshul Kumar, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, PhD Candidate in Sociology; Jahnvi Singh, Pre-Texts Facilitator and Leaning Design Consultant; Polly Lauer, Research Coordinator for Pre-Texts
Parivartan: In India, rates of child diarrheal deaths continue to be alarmingly high despite overall improvements throughout the world. Treatment for often preventable cases of diarrheal illness is very costly for families in India and more efforts should be made to promote behaviors that prevent incidence of diarrhea in children. Hand washing with soap is a cost-effective means of preventing illnesses caused by bacterial contamination, as it decreases person-to-person transmission. However, India is one of the most water-challenged countries in the world. Project Parivartan aims to mitigate both the problems of water scarcity and absence of hand hygiene practices by introducing alcohol based hand sanitizer (ABHS) to 10 villages in the town of Palghar in Northern Maharashtra, a water-deprived tribal region of India. The use of ABHS as a substitute for hand washing provides a simple and cost-effective means of reducing the spread of diarrheal and respiratory diseases at schools in water scarce areas.
Team members: Alastair Fung, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Master of Public Health Candidate in Global Health Candidate; Nithin Kondapuram, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Master of Science Candidate in Epidemiology; Harvard Medical School, Research Assistant; Sujata Saunik, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Takemi Fellow; Vivian Zhang, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Master of Public Health Candidate
Green Screen: A zero-electricity passive air cooling panel installed in urban slums, made entirely of agricultural waste. The team developed the idea in The Mittal Institute Director Professor Tarun Khanna’s class on Contemporary Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Problems. It is designed to be used in New Delhi, whose intense pollution and heat are interconnected problems, substantially attributed to the 27 million tonnes of agricultural waste annually burned outside the city, the smoke from which hangs over Delhi and traps in heat, producing the urban heat island effect on a massive scale.
Sakhi (2017 Seed for Change Winner) is a social enterprise that provides an innovative, high-quality, low-cost, reusable, and environmentally-safe menstrual cup for women and girls in India, along with a gender and culture-sensitive menstrual health education and training program. Sakhi’s 360-degree approach addresses the significant challenges and taboos faced by the world’s largest menstruating youth population—116 million girls ages 15-24—and the world’s second largest menstruating female population—358 million women between ages 15-54. Sakhi’s team and strategy prioritizes local entrepreneurship and self-sustainability; culture, religion, and gender sensitivity to create positive social norms; and attention to health safety, sanitary practices, infrastructure challenges, and environmental sustainability. Sakhi’s unique medical-silicone sterilizer case with menstrual cup is a one-of-a-kind solution, custom-designed for Sakhi’s demographic that includes married millennials, young mothers, working women, and athletes. Seed for Change’s one-time investment and Sakhi’s community reinvestment strategy will yield project sustainability over the first three years and profitability in subsequent years. Seed for Change’s valuable support will enable Sakhi to incubate the social enterprise to help Indian girls and women eager for an affordable, portable, safe, and hygienic market-based solution to manage their monthly menstruation cycle with dignity, safety, and confidence.
Team Members: Sutopa Dasgupta, Ph.D. student, Harvard University; Andrew Powell; and Usha Venkatachallam
Anantara is a not-for-profit design collective working at the intersection of forest conservation through livelihood creation. By working with forest communities and their emerging small forest enterprises, they seek to convert collector economies into craftsmen communities through design. The focus is on sustainable harvesting and the creation of new value chains and value-added facilities within forest communities, to provide year-round employment opportunity through environmentally reinforcing activities. Forest degradation is linked to unsustainable harvesting, which is a result of acute poverty. Such practices threaten to erode indigenous cultural knowledge that has accrued over centuries as the forest communities stewarded their ecosystems. There are several NGOs and support institutions actively working to address the issues of forest conservation through sustainable harvesting and livelihood creation, but they have been largely unsuccessful across two major verticals: design development and market linkages. Anantara seeks to bridge this gap by providing branding, product design services, and a marketing platform. They will create value for the support institutions by increasing efficacy of their livelihoods program, and create value for the small forest enterprise by improving their products and providing a market for the same; thus, empowering forest communities to better steward their ecosystems.
Team Members: Aaron Mendonca, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Prathima Muniyappa, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Prabhat Kumar; and Elena Mechik
Barakat Bundle is a nonprofit providing lifesaving bundles to mothers and newborns in South Asia. They package together demand-inducing newborn essentials—such as baby clothes—as well as low-cost, evidence-based public health items—such as clean delivery kits for safe births. They provide them to low-income mothers for the birth of their first child. The medical items in the bundle specifically target causes of maternal and infant mortality and morbidities in targeted regions. The desirable goods incentivize demand for the bundle, encouraging utilization, and some also address cognitive development. Barakat Bundle integrates seamlessly into existing community health worker and health system infrastructure creating a framework for sustainable delivery. For more information, visit barakatbundle.org.
Team Members: Karima Ladhani, Harvard School of Public Health; Nayab Ahmad, Harvard College ’15; Dr. Jyoti Ramakrishna, Harvard School of Public Health; and Amanda Hahnel
2016 Seed for Change Finalists
- GoMango: provides low-cost refrigerated transport to food producers in India.
- Torr Energy: for-profit company that uses a series of technologies and a unique model to produce and sell low-cost waste-derived solid fuel in remote areas.
- The Craftsmen: small forest enterprise facilitator that creates new value chains, provides year-round employment, and trains communities in sustainable harvesting practices.
2016 Finalist Presentations
Other student stories
Champion for India’s Girls: Priya Shankar, MPH ’16, is launching a peer education program to help girls live healthy lives
Alum Q+A: Saving the environment and improving women’s lives, one pad at a time: Saathi, founded by several MIT and Harvard graduates, has developed an eco-friendly sanitary pad made from local banana fiber that is fully compostable and bio-degradable. They hope it will give women more freedom in India and other developing countries.
- Alum Q+A: Saving lives at birth: Sabeena Jalal, an alum of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and currently based in Karachi, has developed a blade to be used by midwives during childbirth to cut the umbilical cord. The blade does not get infected, so she hopes the tool can reduce the rate of infant mortality in developing countries.
- Alum Q+A: A new model for education: Taktse International School is a not-for-profit coeducational school located in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas, near Gangtok, Sikkim, India. The school encourages creativity and innovation among students, with a goal of “producing the compassionate and ethical leaders that developing societies so desperately need.”
- Alum Q+A: Using entrepreneurship to impact education in Pakistan: “When you take the first step, the landscape changes and you see opportunities instead of challenges,” says Imran Sarwar, Harvard Kennedy School alum, about entrepreneurship. Sarwar is the co-founder of Rabtt, which aims to change the education landscape in Pakistan.