Sustainable Livelihood Initiative India (SLII) Pvt Ltd was founded by brothers Abhimanyu Rathi and Vardan Rathi to accelerate the achievement of the seventeen sustainable development goals as defined by the UN. Their latest product, the Vardan Water Purifier is said to be able to provide clean drinking water without the wastage of water caused by conventional RO purifiers. It does this without electricity or moving parts and that too at just 8 paise per litre.
Vishnu Sreedethan of The EarthView recently had an interview with Abhimanyu Rathi about their Project Vardan and their future plans.
Q: What gave you the motivation to make products which would be sustainable for the environment?
Abhimanyu: I started in research and development on products for sustainability when I was doing my engineering in 2012. I did my engineering at a college in Surat. I always wanted to work for the masses and create products that others can use. It is very fascinating for me that I could create innovations that would be beneficial for others and could make their lives better.
I am a chemical engineer and wanted to work on environmental issues and water is one of the issues in which something I wanted to bring innovations. One of the most important resources, water is used by us irrespective of our location, gender or community. However, water scarcity is also one of the biggest problem being faced all over the world. I studied water systems such as candle based systems and RO systems. There are two main problems with these systems - they waste a lot of water and they need a lot of maintenance. Therefore I decided to work to find a solution to these problems and later developed the water purifier.
Q: Please tell us about SLII.
Abhimanyu: Sustainable Livelihood Initiative India (SLII) was born as an idea in 2012 when I was still a chemical engineer. I was highly influenced by the idea of social entrepreneurship. I was looking to solve an India-centric problem that did not have a viable and disruptive solution as of then.
At SLII, we work aggressively on sustainability and we look at livelihood as a means of getting the necessities of livelihood closer to people. We focus on water, healthcare, energy and sanitation.
Q: What all projects you are working under SLII?
Abhimanyu: The water purifier is called the Vardhan Water Purifier. It runs without membranes, without the need for external energy, does not require maintenance and can last for close to 10 years. It is an amazing product for domestic water purification. Vardan Water is our primary product.
Apart from this, we are involved in various other projects, one major project is in healthcare. We are involved with the government for starting a hospital in Surat which will be operated completely free of charges, including supply of medicines. We are also working on an energy project to convert e-waste to solar panels, creating domestic biogas plants, providing carbon credit programmes and working on CSR projects. We are working on the 17 sustainable development goals as defined by the United Nations.
Q: How does your water purifier work?
Abhimanyu: Most commercial purifiers available in the market currently waste three litres of water for each litre of water purified. There is a discharge line for RO purifiers from which the water flows out. Secondly, these purifiers do not support rural areas due to a lot of parts having to be maintained and people may not be able to financially support the charges. A typical RO will cost you anywhere around INR 7,000 per year to be maintained.
We have developed the most affordable complete water purifier costing only 8 paise per litre. The purifier that we have developed works on physical filtration using graphene. We have found a process by which graphene can be made more economically for water purification. We have also incorporated a UV light in our purifier which is solar-powered made from e-waste.
Our system is designed for filtering 1,50,000 litres in its lifetime. A normal household only requires 40 litres per day for drinking. So on average, this system will be able to function for close to 10 years.
Q. How has the reception been for the product? Are people convinced that a product that does not require maintenance and works at a fraction of the cost of conventional systems purify their water?
Abhimanyu: The reception has been excellent. Initially, we thought that we would have to raise awareness. But people have approached us congratulating us for creating a system that helps in reducing water wastage and also assures that water is safe to drink. There has been a lot of traction for the product and people are demanding for large quantities to be delivered to them.
The most demand we have seen is from coastal cities such as Kutch, Chennai and Bangalore where water hardness levels are higher.
Q: Where can our readers buy your product if they are interested?
Abhimanyu: We started selling in February and mostly concentrated in Gujarat initially. We are starting to get fundings and planning to increase sales to five more districts when we restart sales in June. We have already started setting up distributors for the new locations.
The readers of Earth View can visit our website at www.slii.com. We are expanding our manufacturing capabilities currently and will be offering the products from June. We want it to be available pan-India.
Q: How do you plan to scale up your company?
Abhimanyu: We were lucky enough to get the financial support provided by the Gujarat government for start-ups. We are incubated by a government-backed incubator. We are planning to set up a plant in Surat soon and take up our operation pan-India.