SmartUp is a unique funding and grant scheme developed by HDFC Bank to encourage social sector startups engaged in activities that can benefit the society at large, like solving the issues being faced currently. HDFC has instituted a process of selecting the startups to receive the grant under the SmartUp scheme and so far, 60 startups have received the grant from the bank.
The latest grant amounted to a total of Rs 5 crore. The bank says the startups are chosen on the basis of their contribution to bringing about sustainable change in society and environment. Parivartan, meaning change, is the broad umbrella under which these grants are being offered. As mentioned, this could be treated like a CSR initiative.
Of the total 60 startups that have benefitted from HDFC’s SmartUp grants, 20 are from Bengaluru. Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Jamshedpur, Kalahandi in Odisha, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Hyderabad are the other locations from where the startups have been selected in the past. The scheme has been on since the past 3 years.
In the current lot, 20 startups were chosen from a list of 30 which made their presentations to a jury panel. Once the startups working in the social sector are shortlisted, they are asked to put forth their presentation that can highlight how sustainable their idea is, does it have the scope to scale up in future, what benefits can accrue to the society and the environment and how unique is the project itself.
HDFC Bank has associated with established incubators like IIT Kanpur, T -Hub, KIIT TBI, Villgro, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, BITS Pilani to help indetifying startups that deserve to be helped and in offering them other tactical support.
Startups working on areas such as innovative solutions in tackling climate change, waste management, skills training and enhancing livelihood have been the recipients of grants from HDFC Bank, under SmartUP.
Bleetech, a startup that works on need-based technological solutions in the social sector for the deaf and hard of hearing community is one such example. Kriya Labs is another, that’s developing a processing technology to convert agro-waste like rice straw into pulp, which can then be used to make several biodegradable products like cups, plates and other tableware.
SmartUp Grants are a part of the bank’s tailor-made banking and advisory solutions to entrepreneurs. The bank's SmartUp portal, allows access to knowledge and experience of a complete network of startups while simultaneously offering their services to this universe. The bank now has dedicated SmartUp zones in over 65 branches in 30 cities across India, including tier 2 and 3 cities that are emerging as start-up hubs.