The economic devastation inflicted upon our society due to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus is well talked about and hardly requires further dissection. The lesser-discussed aspect of the pandemic, however, is the resurgence of the sustainable and rural economies in these desperate times. While the global economy is falling into an unprecedented recession, the small-scale startups working towards ecological preservation in rural areas have largely held its ground.
As taught in management sessions — “never waste a good crisis” — Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent regulations present an opportunity to fasten the growth of the sustainable economic models through ‘green’ startups.
Why The Need For Green Startups And Sustainable Rural Economy Models?
In the ancient world, India, China, Egypt, and the Roman Empire dominated the economy and were the richest regions due to the availability of raw materials. Cut to 18th century, the western nations that led the industrial revolution left behind the nations that were earlier on the forefront.
But what’s next? The future belongs to the nations that take forward their financial growth while working with nature. We already have seen the existential threat brought by one virus on the entire mankind. If the constant degradation of natural resources continues, the next crisis may be a bigger one. Ergo, nations must chalk out a sustainable economy model for themselves to build self-sustaining enterprises.
This can be done through incentivizing startups working in the rural areas and especially the ones that are working for the cause of environmental conservation. Extending tax benefits or directly providing such ventures with some grants are key steps in the right direction.
Significance Of Startups In Rural Economies
Mahatma Gandhi had dreamt of an India with self-dependent villages. India, where a large part of the population continues to live in rural areas, has immense potential to make its villages self-reliant. Rural economies help in forming sustainable, resilient, and harmonious societies. Also, strong and independent rural economies can prevent the threat of food insecurity.
With several people returning to their villages from urban centers midst the Covid-19 threat and job losses, rural areas can become the new hub of startups working to improve local economy while taking ecological concerns into account. If we are able to achieve this, we will not just bridge the rural-urban divide but also stem the issue of distress migration.
Significance Of Startups In Striking Balance Between Environment And Progress
Almost every second startup is set up to provide a solution to an issue. They are agile and have a unique way to approach issues and this is the reason why startups are leading the race of innovation despite having far less capital than Fortune 500 companies.
The small-scale entrepreneurs understand that they can’t make a market for themselves in the presence of big firms while working the conventional way and hence, they choose to go the extra mile to work with nature. To illustrate with an example, India has several start-ups working to construct sustainable housing with features like filler-roof slabs, radiant cooling, soil-stabilized block construction, pre-engineered buildings, rain water harvesting, and organic hydroponic gardens, among others. Similarly, there are start-ups working in the areas of clean energy, sustainable clothing, and other eco-friendly solutions.
In India, startups working for rural economies can be supported greatly by building a chain of cold storages, providing access to fair markets, and further subsidizing organic fertilizers. While these steps are set to boost farmer income, it will also unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of those living in the remote corners, which are presenting a silver lining amidst the dark clouds of this pandemic.
The Need Of The Hour
The carnage of natural resources for energy needs and other amenities is beginning to show its effect with floods, famines, landslides, and other such natural calamities becoming more frequent than ever. The costs incurred by nations in disaster management and subsequent relief and rehabilitation works are already massive and increasing steadily. Not to forget, more than a million people succumb to air pollution generated due to the burning of fossil fuels every year. Consequently, the states are reeling under the loss of human lives and the healthcare subsidies.
Thus, the need to encourage long-term behavioral change in businesses is pressing. Governments must invest in clean energy and building infrastructure for its transmission. These efforts assume much more significance in ecologically sensitive areas.
For instance, the Himalayan states in India have tremendous scope for green startups working in the areas of rainwater conservation, contour farming, generating electricity through chir pine, waste management, supplying herbs like keeda jadi and other such plants which have medicinal and immunity booster value. In other states, startups working for solar energy generation, clean water, and green buildings, among others, should be promoted.
Decisive steps to nurture startups working towards sustainable development in rural economies have multi-dimensional benefits — helping us become low carbon economies, creating job opportunities, and improving the well-being of our people and our environment.