About Us

About Us

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in collaboration with AFD (Agence Française de Développement), have launched the Swachhata Startup Challenge to nurture the evolving ecosystem of the Indian waste sector.

The goal is to support 10 startups working at the nexus of technology and social innovation to solve India’s waste management challenges by improving efficiency of waste management, increasing social impact, improving transparency of waste value chain and reducing the use of single use plastic.



The ambition of the MoHUA-AFD Swachhata Startup Challenge is to distinguish players operating in 4 key fields of intervention

Social Inclusion

Social Inclusion

  • Low-cost efficient mechanical solutions for cleaning septic tanks and sewer lines (Manhole to machine hole)
  • Efficient operation and maintenance of community and public toilets in a hygienic and sustainable manner
  • Safe containment, evacuation, transportation, processing and disposal of used water and fecal sludge & septage
  • Social innovations for improved waste collection and management in low-income settlements
  • Innovation for an easier access for informal waste-pickers to waste resources
  • Innovation to take plastic waste management from informal to formal economy

Zero Dump

  • Innovative solutions for tracking segregated door to door collection solid waste
  • Processing and recycling of all segregated fractions of Solid Waste
  • Low-cost portable solution for remediation of legacy dumpsites
Zero Dump
Plastic Waste

Plastic Waste

  • Solution of processing and recycling of plastic waste
  • Solutions to minimize degradation of plastic during recycling
  • Plastic waste management in eco-sensitive regions
  • Innovative methods for collection of multi layered plastic and its disposal
  • Technology for disposal of plastic from legacy dumpsites
  • Alternatives of single-use plastic
  • Change consumer behaviors and raise awareness around plastic segregation and recycling practices


  • Tech innovations on real-time monitoring of operations in waste management infrastructure
  • Innovations that track the flow of goods from manufacturer to the end of their life cycle or disposal
  • Tech solutions that calculate the environmental, social and economic price of goods, especially plastics


Catalytic support and value addition to the core work of selected enterprises for creating impact at a scale.

A financial award of INR 25 lakhs to top 10 startups from MoHUA-AFD
1-year of personalized professional support

Add on support for eligible startups

Upto INR 50,00,000 follow-on investment from Villgro to eligible startups
Support for connections with municipalities to facilitate access to waste and experimental grounds
Upto 100,000 USD worth AWS credits and technology support in conducting pilots to each winner

Swachhata Startup Bootcamp

Nurturing Next Generation Entrepreneurs for India's Circular Transformation

The purpose of the bootcamp is to enhance the capabilities of the top 10 winners of the Swachhata Startup Challenge in areas that matter most to them. This intensive 4-day experience, spanning more than 28 hours, will feature the guidance of over 17 experienced mentors, trainers, and industry specialists, making it a truly enriching journey.

Day 1

Ice-Breaking & Energizing Participants

13th February, 2023

  • Welcome Session: Villgro & AFD team to welcome the Top 10 participant over lunch
  • Interaction Session: Growth Hacking for Startups with Sandeep Jain

Day 2

Exploring Concepts & Fundamentals for New-Age Impact ventures

14th February. 2023

  • Masterclass 1: Impact Measurement & Communication
  • Interactive Session: Business Value of Monitoring Environment & Carbon Footprint
  • Masterclass 2: Decoding Impact Investment: Rhetoric, Realities & Jargons
  • Masterclass 3: Organizational Culture and HR Management
  • Masterclass 4: Decoding Carbon & Plastic credit market

Day 3

Deep diving into Problem Diagnosis & Solution Identification

15th February, 2023

  • Felicitation Session: Welcoming & felicitation of DP Panelists by AFD
  • Diagnostic Panels for Startup: One-on-one Mentoring and Problem solving sessions with industry experts
  • Concurrent Activity: ULB interaction & Site Visit

Day 4

Learning Business Essentials & Innovation

16th February, 2023

  • Workshop: Design Thinking for Business Innovation
  • Masterclass 5: Opportunities in Blended Finance
  • Masterclass 6: Financial Essentials for Startup CEOs


If you are a start-up, an early stage organization or working in collaboration to solve problems in the waste sector, apply now.

Eligibility Criteria:
  • 1. Demonstrating the existence of a legal structure: the challenge is open to startups registered in India and French actors collaborating with an Indian startup (as a joint venture)
  • 2. Addressing one of the four themes mentioned above
  • 3. Demonstrating the existence of a sustainable and autonomous economic model with Minimum Viable Product ready stage and onwards
  • 4. Digital technology and social impact are the heart of the solution
  • 5. For profit startups with more than 3 months of operations

Evaluation Criteria

Here are some points to keep in mind while applying

  • Uniqueness and potential of the tech solution to address the challenges of the waste sector: tech as a real lever for change and ambition to bring it to the next level
  • Robustness of the operational and commercial model
  • Potential for replicability and/or scalability
  • The team is composed of diverse and complementary expertise with technical, commercial and administrative profiles. Added bonus for women led teams or teams with a significant number of women.
  • Assertive social impact strategy and ability to measure it
  • The prize should contribute in a positive and concrete way to the development of the entrepreneurial project.

Click here to view the challenge guidelines

Evaluation Criteria


Implementation partner

Technology Partner

Ecosystem Partners

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