Every year, through the Young Entrepreneur Awards competition, YBI celebrates the great achievements of young entrepreneurs supported by YBI member organisations across the globe. In 2017, the two outstanding entrepreneurs who won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year title have been given the opportunity, through a collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), to attend this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week in Geneva, participate in tailored coaching and training workshops, and pitch their businesses to a panel of impact investors and sustainable finance partners, with the potential to win $15,000 towards their business.

Sadashiv Maskle, from rural India, is one of this year’s winners. As the eldest son in a lower middle class family in rural India, Sadashiv had a sizable responsibility. In order to provide financially for his family, with his father retired and his mother unemployed, in 2008 Sadashiv moved to Mumbai and took a job with a technology company. Working as a Supervisor installing solar inverters, Sadashiv soon realised his was not earning enough to sustainably support his family. So his thoughts turned to starting his own business in the green energy sector.

Taking a leap of faith, Sadashiv decided in 2009 that it is time to leave his company and move back to Pune to embark on his entrepreneurial journey. Unfortunately, due to a lack of resources, he was unable to progress his ideas until 2015 when he came across Bharatiya Yuval Shakti Trust (BYST), YBI member organisation in India. BYST believed in the potential of Sadashiv’s business ideas, provided him with training and mentoring and facilitated his access to financial support. All these allowed him to make his dream a reality.

His company, Disha Sunlight, provides integrated solar energy solutions to over a hundred villages in remote areas across India. he is already employing 40 people and is creating work for further 160.

“With 45,000 villages in Pune alone, and 600,000 across India, there is huge untapped potential when it comes to using green energy. Solar products are in high demand due to the increase of power tariffs and the shortage of thermal and hydropower solutions”, explains Sadashiv.

Sadashiv aims to become one of the most important actors in India’s rural infrastructure market, providing integrated solutions to more than 80% of India’s rural and remote communities. “As the government increases its efforts to raise awareness for solar energy adoption, and with the rapid cost reduction in solar technologies, there will be even more opportunities for my business to grow”, explains Sadashiv.

His vision is to contribute to sustainable energy solutions in all aspects of rural infrastructure, particularly in areas that bigger companies do not find economically attractive. This is why in the next three years, Sadashiv is planning to diversify Disha Sunlight’s business portfolio, create employment opportunities for 600 youth and provide vocational training for young people in the villages it serves.

“Entrepreneurship brought great changes in my life. It has changed my social status and brought more financial stability for me and my family. I only hope that my entrepreneurial journey will change other people’s lives too.”

In partnership with UNCTAD, the 2017 Young Entrepreneur Awards focused on young people who positively impacted their communities by contributing to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted at the United Nations in 2015. Sadashiv’s business is significantly contributing to a number of these goals and is expected to increase its impact over the course of the upcoming years. 

SDG 1: No poverty  Sadashiv’s integrated solar solutions have created around 200 jobs (mostly in underserved rural communities), improved the employment prospects for young people by providing them with free vocational training and helped 220 marginal farmers to increase their monthly income.

SDG 4: Quality education  By providing solar lighting solutions in remote areas which previously had no access to electricity, Disha Sunlight has enabled young people to study in the evenings and at night. It has supported 45 schools in remote villages to install solar-power computers, giving students access e-learning software in partnership with the local government.

SDG 5: Gender Equality – In the rural areas with no access to electricity, women often become home bound after sun down. By providing them with electricity, Disha Sunglight allows women to step out in the evenings and complete the household chores after nightfall, leaving them time to undertake income generating activities during the day.

SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy – By installing solar energy solutions in remote areas, Disha Sunlight have provided many people with access to electricity for the very first time. Furthermore, Disha’s products are durable and low cost, making them affordable for the under-served.

SDG 9: Industry innovation and infrastructure – Disha Sunlight’s wide range of products has helped the development of rural infrastructure, particularly in remote areas which larger companies do not serve.

SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production  Disha Sunlight’s solar products and solutions are ecologically friendly, meaning that a one-time investment lasts for a minimum 25 years, with zero maintenance costs.

SDG 13: Climate action – Providing solar energy solutions to industry and people in remote areas not only impacts the local community but, by reducing the carbon footprint, it also has a positive impact on the global ecosystem.

SDG 15: Life on land – Disha Sunlight’s water conditioning systems, used by the forestry department of the Indian Ministry of Environment, ensures that water is safer for animals and plants in rural communities.

© Youth Business International 2017. In the UK Youth Business International is a registered charity no: 1123946. Tel +44 (0)20 3326 2060.