In Indian cities, pollution levels have soared, water bodies are foaming with industrial wastes and garbage is piling up without the infrastructural capacities. At a time when NGOs and government are spreading awareness and tackling local environmental issues, Reap Benefit, an organization based in Bangalore, puts forward a simple question – “Are you part of the problem or the new age solution?”
Founded in 2012, Reap Benefit was started by Kuldeep Dantewadia and Gautam Prakash. Based in Bangalore, the organization aims to build the next generation of problem solvers, by involving youth in developing skills, local data and solutions to solve local environment and civic problems. We talked to Kuldeep Dantewadia, the man behind the organization.
In Kuldeep’s own words “Since childhood, I had an inclination to do something useful for the environment. I remember being a part of school trips and projects which developed this resolve in me to act on that inclination. As time went by, I thought I was doing my bit for the environment on the side. But, by the time I was in college, I hit a point when I started questioning and reflecting on my work. Environmental problems affect entire communities at once. These have to be tackled and solved in a scalable way. In the short term, the solutions may be leveraged from locally available data, but in the long term, there needs to be a vast resource of human capital for effective implementation of solutions.”
According to him, there are some drawbacks in the way environmental problems are approached currently. In layman’s words –
The first is scale. A solution working in one locality may not be as effective in another, not to mention the corruption and oligopolies that prevent the most optimal solution from being implemented in other localities in the first place.
The second is the process of data-driven decision-making. The journey from raw data to report creates an illusion that all has been accounted for whereas the data may be wrought with inconsistencies and potential errors. More importantly, the methods of data collection are questionable in the first place.
The idea was simple –
“Stakeholders themselves have to be a part of the solution. From data collection to solutions, real problems could be solved by real people!”
“As the idea matured, I met Gautam (co-founder) and in 2012, we established Reap Benefit.”
Reap Benefit is a platform to educate, empower (and reward!) students at schools and universities for taking everyday green actions through partnerships with municipalities, NGO’s and corporates. It acts as a platform to monitor and implement these activities to impart a positive impact on our environment. This empowers students to make a collective impact on the environment.
“The idea is holistic in nature. We work with private and government school students, as well as youngsters in college to solve local problems of waste, water, sanitation, energy and air quality”
Reap benefit has worked with over 15000 youngsters and 250 organizations on green projects. They have managed to generate tremendous social impact from diverting hundreds of tonnes of waste to landfills to saving millions of litres of water.
Kuldeep reflects “Impact is a great motivation. When you see visible work, visible outcomes – it is always encouraging. What’s more is that over the course of the journey, I had the opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds from across India – an experience which motivates me to keep moving forward”
Reap Benefit is working towards integrating a network of people to impart social values. By leveraging technology, they aim to get local stakeholders on board through a mobile app.