rickshaw company SMV Green is putting battery-powered vehicles on the streets
of Indian cities, places choking in fumes from diesel rickshaws and growing
number of cars. Its bold business model helps people on very low incomes dramatically
boost their income as rickshaw drivers – and offers women a rare chance to earn
a living as rickshaw drivers.
world, 7 million people a year die prematurely from
exposure to air pollution. SMV founder Naveen Krishna knows the impact of the
problem on daily life. He says: “I haven’t taken my own family for a walk in the
streets for more than two years. Walking is a privilege now – you can only do
it in parks.”
passionate about tackling the air pollution problem. “This work started with my
own personal journey. In my childhood, we would drink water with our hands
straight from the Ganges. But when I was 10 my father gave me a water bottle
instead, which I carried everywhere – the river had become too polluted. I
don’t want to give my children a bottle of water and an oxygen cylinder for
them to carry around on their backs. Helping solve this problem – it’s my
SMV Green operates
in six cities, supplying rickshaws to customers paying a 10% deposit. A linked
finance package allows people on very low incomes to earn a living wage as a
driver and also own their vehicle outright in about two years. It’s a dramatic
change in an industry where drivers often rent their vehicles for a high daily
rate, with little take-home pay once the day is over.
SMV’s customers are already rickshaw drivers, often using pedal rickshaws.
These vehicles don’t create pollution – but they are inefficient and put the
health of drivers at risk. Naveen explains: “Rickshaw pulling all day in hot
temperatures requires deep breathing. Around 40% of our customers have tuberculosis
or chest infections, due to their exposure to smoke and dust.” Pedal rickshaw
drivers often double their income once they switch to SMV Green, as they can
take more passengers and complete more journeys.