Q&A with Rakesh: The vision behind JALODBUST and its mission to create positive impact

JALODBUST being demonstrated to colleagues during initial demonstrations during 2019.

JALODBUST: A life-changing startup

JALODBUST is a low cost and low maintenance, portable device that is designed to work as a sewage pump, agitator and declogger. Simple and robust, it can remove sludge from septic tanks, manholes or drains to clear domestic drainage, local sanitation systems or even clean up lakes. In India, many of these functions are carried out manually, impacting the health of sanitation workers, many of whom are at the bottom of the social pyramid.

A project founded by Rakesh Kasba, a civil engineer turned entrepreneur, we were fortunate to meet him back in 2019 as he began his journey to create a sustainable business with social impact.

Jalodbust received a HelloScience Microgrant and helped kickstart it journey in 2019. In 2020, they won several social innovation awards, and are now turning their efforts to meeting their next challenge – raising the necessary funds to scale up.

Rakesh Kasba explain JALODBUST when HelloScience first met him in 2019

18 December, 2020

Q: Dear Rakesh, tell us about JALODBUST. What has happened in the last few months?

A: Last few months have been interesting to say the least! Although we have received a lot in attention for the past year, due to COVID-19 we had to suspend our outdoor testing activities, and of course as a young start up the pandemic has also had a financial impact as well.

However, we did not let our enthusiasm die, and have kept building up contacts and interacting with partners and stakeholders across the sector. What has excited me most in the past year is the amount of positive recognition and attention that JALODBUST has received. This includes:

October 28th: Signing an agreement with Catapult Design to help produce the physical JALODBUST unit.

November 19th: The Smart-Bio-2020 Award from K-BITS (Best Social Enterprise/Institution), Government of Karnataka, India, presented by Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka State. Read more

November 24th: Being shortlisted among the top-30 from 1000+ startups worldwide as part of the TIA (Together in action) challenge to change 1 Billion lives by 2030. Read more

November 26th: The ISC-FICCI (Indian Sanitation Coalition- Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) award for ‘Best in category for Upliftment of Sanitation Workers’. Read more

And a media feature on YourStory as part of efforts to liberate 2 Million workers handling fecal waste globally. Read more

I have to thank HelloScience.io and Alfred Birkegaard in particular for the continued support: HelloScience deserves a special reward as the 1st one to recognize and support JALODBUST.

And whilst the awards and recognition are great, what we want to do next is to secure the funding necessary that will enable JALODBUST to move to the next level and have the biggest positive impact – eradicating manual scavenging by sanitation workers.

Q: What are you most proud of and how has HelloScience helped you in your journey?

A: I am proud of being the person ‘chosen by destiny’ to be part of the mission to end manual scavenging. By education I am a civil engineer and spent many years working in HydroPower construction almost 3000 kms from where I live today. All that has changed now, and I working full time trying to find engineering solutions to the problems of sanitation – especially supporting the “bottom of the social pyramid”. You just need to look – just once – at an image of what I am talking about to understand the positive impact that this change will have on so many lives.

Photo by: Sharada Prasad CS Sanitation workers in the Manholes brimming with waste water and settled sludge at the bottom to manually unblock the clogged sewer line. At the bottom of the Social Pyramid in India are ‘Manual Scavengers’, who clean and clear drains and sewers, usually with no equipment or protective gear, and for very low wages. JALODBUST aims improve the lives of thousands of sanitation workers in India by deploying its solution.

Q: What are the next steps for JALODBUST?

A: HelloScience helped validate my thoughts and ideas and visualize them for others. This was done through video interviews and Social Media exposure, as well as providing me a microgrant to get started. That was a real game changer for me and was the starting point for the current JALODBUST journey.

Since then I have received a financial award from the ASME in the United States and a prototyping grant from SOCIAL ALPHA, India: But what needs to happen next is for JALODBUST to find and align with the right financial partner who can commit to the solution and support both its human and business value over the longer term. I believe that this partner is there, and I am open to any form of funding that can help – for example Grants, Philanthropic or Social Impact Funds, direct (equity) investment or loans. That funding will be used to:

1. Further enhance our current product design so that we are ready for and can scale up manufacturing

2. Deploy 1-2 vehicle-based JALODBUST units so that sanitation workers can be trained in the use and operation of the solution. From there we will also begin to work to develop entrepreneurial skill sets for those workers, for example setting up of Sanitation Entrepreneurships and create a self-sustaining economic model.

I am convinced that we can create ladders out of both poverty and some of the worst working conditions imaginable for our fellow human beings. I know that the HelloScience network is there to help and as been very helpful so far, and my resolve is as strong as ever.

If you would like to learn more or help, especially in helping us lift JALODBUST to the next level of development and impact, please contact me via my HelloScience profile here

Follow JALODBUST on HelloScience