MoHUA-AFD Launch Swachhata Start-Up Challenge to Nurture the Evolving Ecosystem of Indian Waste Man

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MoHUA-AFD Launch Swachhata Start-Up Challenge to Nurture the Evolving Ecosystem of Indian Waste Man

  • Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in partnership with Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and Agence Française de Développement (AFD) launched the Swachhata Start-Up Challenge to provide an impetus to innovative start-ups to come forward and drive catalytic transformation in the sanitation and waste management sector.
  • In line with Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’, the Challenge seeks to promote an enabling environment for enterprise development under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 (SBM-U 2.0).


  • The start-up space is evolving rapidly with India leading the world with over 70 unicorns (crossing the valuation of USD 1 billion). 
  • With the appetite for risk and spirit of innovation at its core, the start-up space holds immense potential to revolutionize India’s waste management sector. 
  • This is also aligned to the vision of SBM-U 2.0 launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 1st October 2021,which is focused on encouraging the adoption of locally innovated, implementable solutions and business models in sanitation and waste management.

Swachhata Start-Up Challenge

  • It aims to capitalise on the start-up movement by providing opportunities for entrepreneurship to young innovators to create socially impactful and market ready business solutions.
  • It was launched by the Secretary, MoHUA along with Ambassador of France to India and Ambassador of the European Union to India and Bhutan, in the presence of Joint Secretary & National Mission Director, SBM-U, Government of India and Country Director, AFD India.
  • It is open to start-ups registered in India and French actors collaborating with an Indian start-up (as a joint venture), invites solutions across 4 thematic areas.
  • Such as -
  1. social inclusion, 
  2. zero dump (solid waste management), 
  3. plastic waste management 
  4. transparency through digital enablement.
  • It also provides a prominent platform to participating enterprises to showcase their innovative products and services along with significant monetary and mentorship incentive 
  • Top 10 awardees stand to receive ₹25 lakhs along with one year of dedicated incubation support from French Tech, the French government’s initiative to promote start-ups.
  • Apart from these, eligible startups will get additional incentives which includes upto ₹ 50 Lakhs follow-on investment from Villgro,the implementation partner of the Challenge andupto 100,000 USD worth credits and technology support from technology partner Amazon Web Services, to each winner.

Objectives of the challenge

  • It is a step towards ensuring innovation and smart governance in SBM-U 2.0 by incentivizing the startup ecosystem to help realize our vision of ‘Garbage Free Cities’. 
  • The Challenge aims to capitalize on the skills and expertise of this space to find implementable ideas and solutions that can be adopted and replicated at scale across urban India.
  • It will promote sustainable urban development in India and is another step towards strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the waste management sector with a focus on plastic waste.

India France partnership in this regard

  • France and India are committed to taking joint action against plastic pollution, and the AFD-MoHUA Swachhata Startup Challenge is a concrete step in this direction. 
  • The French Development Agency will provide seed funding to the tune of 25 lakh rupees and one year of customized support to each of the 10 selected start-ups. 
  • This initiative also comes at a time when France and the EU are looking to work closely with India on the international stage to negotiate a global treaty on plastic pollution.

Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U 2.0).

  • SBM-U 2.0, announced in Budget 2021-22, is the continuation of SBM-U first phase. The government is trying to tap safe containment, transportation, disposal of faecal sludge, and septage from toilets.
  • SBM-U first phase was launched on 2nd October 2014 aiming at making urban India Open Defecation Free (ODF) and achieving 100% scientific management of municipal solid waste. It lasted till October 2019.
  • It will be implemented over five years from 2021 to 2026 with an outlay of Rs.1.41 lakh crore.


  • SBM-U has been encouraging innovations and best practices particularly through Swachh Survekshan, the annual cleanliness survey conducted by MoHUA. 
  • This trend has been rising over the years with over 4,000 innovations and best practices having been identified since 2018.
  • Moreover, innovative technological solutions have played a critical role in achieving the outcomes under SBM-U’s journey with several key initiatives such as Swachhata App, SBM Toilets on Google Maps, etc in collaboration with partners such as Janaagraha and Google.
  • The Swachhata Start-Up Challenge is another step towards smart and sustainable urban development by incentivizing the innovations ecosystem through strategic collaboration thus helping realize the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Garbage Free Cities’ under SBM-U 2.0.