02 Dec Ennovent’s Decade Long Journey – Q&A with Peter Scheuch
Peter Scheuch is the Founder and Managing Director of Ennovent. In this quick Q&A, he reflects on Ennovent’s decade-long journey, our vision and the challenges to meet this vision.
How has the Ennovent journey been in the last decade? What changes has the organisation seen in this period?
In 2008, Ennovent started with a simple vision – to improve the lives of people living in low-income markets. Back then, we structured investments for early-stage startups that served the communities. We worked with organisations and several governments to support startup incubation and acceleration.
However, during the course of the decade, our approach towards achieving this vision changed. As we worked on the fund, we realised that early-stage businesses need more support and we needed to dig deeper with our work. We chose to offer long-term and customised support to these entrepreneurs. This contributes towards our vision of lasting sustainability in low-income markets of developing countries.
What are the current focus areas of operation for Ennovent?
Our competency lies in catalysing early-stage businesses, which means taking innovative ideas to unexplored low-income markets in developing countries. People living in low-income markets experience several day-to-day challenges, which provides powerful opportunities to make a sustainable impact while generating fair profits. Businesses can unlock these opportunities, and that is where we come into the picture.
Currently the special focus is South Asia – Nepal, India and Bhutan, but only on the low-income sections of society. In these countries, we are currently working on issues related to tourism, water, waste, energy, health, education and food.
What is unique about the way Ennovent operates?
Over the last decade, we shifted away from being a service provider, to being business partners. We partner with entrepreneurs and share risks and returns. We co-design and co-manage projects in order to take their business from feasibility to launch. This approach helps us create meaningful impact.
Our project venture Fair Trails Himalayas, which was launched in partnership with Trail Angels is a good example of the impact our work creates. Fair Trails designs and manages trekking trails in the Himalayas, which create a sustainable impact while generating fair profits for all partners. And the Fair Trails model predominantly focuses on environmental, social and economic sustainability.
What kind of challenges has Ennovent seen in the course of its work?
One of our core values is impact before profit. We want to make sure we balance the two and we won’t do anything that does not create a positive, sustainable impact. This means we often don’t have a set path, we have to explore the territory and carve our own path. Many times the markets we get into are unexplored and and nothing is readymade.
We have learnt to work in a lean startup manner where we move step by step and use resources wisely. Innovation is the key to be able to solve the complex challenges thrown by unexplored low-income markets. We have also realised that working in collaborative partnerships help us address these challenges better. So, we work with public, private and third sectors, if their goal is to take business ventures to low-income markets.
We designed a unique project in partnership with Veolia called Pop-Up India. The objective is to build the bridge between Veolia and promising startups that can support in addressing existing business challenges and to explore new opportunities with sustainable impact. While this was implemented over four steps, as part of this partnership, we supported Hasirudala, an enterprise focused on creating better livelihoods for waste-pickers through inclusive businesses in and around Bangalore. Veolia has partnered with Hasirudala to create training modules that aim at improving safety standards and working conditions for a wide range of workers in the waste management sector.
How well do you think Ennovent’s vision has been implemented so far?
Our work has always been defined by our core values. We are diligent about doing the work as best as we can, and have executed projects in over 30 countries. Of course, our work would not have reached the impact it did without our partners who are equally diligent about the vision. However, what we are doing is like a drop in the ocean. When we are against challenges such as sustainable development and climate change, we are also aware that it takes many of us and many different types of organisations to address a challenge that huge.