Meaningful Business (MB:) Please tell us a bit about your background.
Naveen Krishna (NK): I founded SMV Green Solutions in 2015 after quitting my job working with the Ministry of Rural Development. I witnessed incidents with rickshaw drivers being exploited and I saw the vulnerability of this community from the Base of Pyramid.
MB: Please introduce your business and the problems you’re trying to solve.
(NK): SMV Green Solutions was founded with two objectives in mind. The first was to provide dignified livelihood options to the marginalised communities in India, by creating an ecosystem of safe, clean and affordable last mile transport solutions to both drivers and commuters in overcrowded cities. The second was to promote gender inclusion in mobility through our flagship programme, Vahini (Women Electric Rickshaw Drivers), to enable safe transport solutions to female commuters in Tier II cities and Villages.
In the traditional market drivers have to rent their rickshaws at a high rental cost, and never gain ownership of their livelihood asset. They have no access to the formal banking system, they’re exploited by police and the Road Transport Authority and have limited knowledge on how to deal with all the stakeholders in the ecosystem.
SMV Green Solutions offers electric-rickshaws, access to loans, training and licensing support to its end customers. The organisation also runs Li-ion swapping stations to provide charging solutions to its drivers along with Electric wagons to provide Farm-to-Market linkage to farmer producer organisations in India. SMV has directly benefitted over 2,400 families so far, is reducing 4800 MT of CO2 per year and has successfully increased the income of its end customers from $3 to $12 per day.
MB: What is your biggest challenge right now and what support do you need?
(NK): We require support in getting opportunities to pitch to like-minded investors around the world. We are currently raising $1.2 million to scale our business and expand to other geographies.
Our company is looking to introduce India’s first formal service stations for three-wheelers, which will aid in increased adoption of electric vehicles. We are also developing a driver-centric application, unlike the commuter-centric mobility applications.
MB: What is your ambition for the future of your business?
(NK): Currently, SMV Green Solutions is present in seven cities in India and we plan to scale to another 18 of the most polluted cities in the next five years – and benefit more than 250,000 customers.
MB: What is your advice to other leaders who want to combine profit and purpose?
(NK): We need to focus on WHY rather than HOW when it comes to making profit. What I am proposing in the above statement has been made even more pressing by the recent pandemic and the natural disasters we are facing as a generation.
MB – Tell us a mistake you’ve learned from:
(NK): Always build the best and worst scenarios for your business forecast, as there are high chances that unforeseen events may occur!
MB – How do you spend your time away from work?
(NK): I used to cook in my free time but that has changed after COVID. Now, I spend most of my time thinking about what’s upcoming at work!
MB – What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
(NK): Never quit.
MB – What is the one book everyone should read?
(NK): Bhagavad Gita.
MB – What is something you wish you were better at?
(NK): Making jokes.
MB – What’s one thing you want to achieve in 2022?
(NK): Closing our current equity round of $1.2 million.
Discover the other leaders recognised on the 2021 MB100, for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Global Goals, here.