Habitat invests in startup ECOSTP to improve sanitation across India
CHENNAI (Sep. 30, 2020) — Habitat for Humanity’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter announced today an equity investment of 19 million rupees (US$250,000) in ECOSTP Technologies, a startup that develops sanitation solutions through bioengineering.
The investment will enhance ECOSTP’s efforts to bring its self-sustainable sewage treatment technology to thousands of families in low-income areas across India. This is Terwilliger Center’s second investment in an Indian startup, after investing in ReMaterials, a modular roofing startup in 2018.
“ECOSTP’s low-cost and low-maintenance sanitation technology adapts well to this COVID-19 reality where families need healthy homes to shelter in place. We are thrilled to have a partner with enormous potential to bring affordable solutions that can create healthier and sanitary households across the country,” says Jyoti Patel, Global Director of Impact Investments for the Terwilliger Center.
The Terwilliger Center works with private-sector startups and firms to expand innovative services, products and financing for low-income households. Through its Shelter Venture Fund, the Center channels impact investment and support to entrepreneurs with the aim to bridge the pioneer gap amongst shelter’s small but growing businesses across the globe. Including ECOSTP, the Fund has invested in nine companies in Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America since 2017.
In India, high running costs prevent up to 70 percent of the country’s sewage treatment plants from working properly. This prompted ECOSTP to take inspiration from nature — using biomimicry — to develop a sewage treatment system that uses anaerobic bacteria to purify water through underground chambers.
The result is an affordable, self-sustainable system that can treat millions of liters of sewage water per day without relying on power, chemicals or human intervention resulting in a savings of up to 90 percent on operational expenses.
Since its launch in Bengaluru in 2017, ECOSTP has received accolades from various housing ecosystem players including the Government of India’s AGNIi innovation showcase and the United Nations ESCAP 8th World Water Forum. ECOSTP was also part of the Brigade REAP and ShelterTech accelerators in India. Brigade REAP is Asia’s first property technology focused accelerator program, helping startups create scalable and sustainable businesses and is an existing shareholder in the startup.
“As a startup, the partnership with the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter is crucial for us in the current environment. It plays a major role in allowing us to develop our business and bring a safe, sustainable and affordable water treatment product to low-income families and further our mission to reclaim every drop of wastewater naturally,” says Tharun Kumar, ECOSTP’s co-founder.
“We support shelter startups through our ShelterTech accelerator and catalytic grant program in India. Innovations such as ECOSTP’s have the potential to not only address the water crisis in India but also provide safe and healthy homes for both urban and rural families,” adds Anoop Nambiar, Country Director for India at the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter. The Center will continue to support ECOSTP in product development, market expansion and piloting the product in rural and low-income consumer markets.