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Top 5 Eco- Friendly and Sustainable Business Ideas for New Entrepreneurs in Rural and Urban India

calendar25 May, 2023
timeReading Time: 7 Minutes
Top 5 Eco- Friendly and Sustainable Business Ideas for New Entrepreneurs in Rural and Urban India

Businesses are changing today. In India’s present digital revolution, many sectors have adopted digital platforms and moving towards sustainable business practices. These developments have provided a level competing field for new entrants and a chance to compete with established market players. Many additional factors, apart from the earlier prerequisites (size of investment, dominance in the market etc.), play a important role in making a business successful today. We are seeing a trend of businesses that are based on eco-friendly and sustainable solutions to conventional products and services. Even big corporations are entering into sustainable businesses and including eco-friendly practices in their operations. If we look into India’s start-up eco-system, we will find that the government actively promotes and assists business models based on Eco- friendly and sustainable business ideas. This article will list businesses that have shown decent to high growth in the past few years in the changing market, are easy to start, and invite minimum legal obligations.

5 Business Ideas for Entrepreneurs in Urban India

Businesses in urban markets of India are not just limited to the veterans of the segment. The support structure provided by the government today has made starting a business easy, and the advantages of doing your own business are commendable. Below are the five most popular business ideas for urban India.

Renewable Energy Business and Solutions

If you want to explore renewable business opportunities, there are two popular models, generating renewable energy in captive power setups and manufacturing of parts, components, and equipment used in the Renewable Energy business. One can develop and implement renewable energy projects, such as solar power installations or wind farms, to cater to the demand for clean energy sources. There are many central and state-sponsored incentives and policies on renewable energy capacity building that provide entrepreneurs with benefits such as easier access to land acquisition, faster conversion of land use, preferential procurement of renewable power by state distribution licensees, preferential allotment of evacuation capacities, and hassle-free transmission infrastructure. Some important licenses and approvals needed for a business in this sector include

Eco-friendly Construction Material Business

Eco-friendly construction material businesses help develop environmentally responsible and efficient building structures and play a vital role in reducing the environmental impact of traditional industries (cement, bricks or plywood industries). Demand for building materials has increased significantly in the past few years. Sustainable and eco-friendly materials such as cotton, wood scrapings, cellulose, mineral wool etc., are in demand in eco-friendly construction. These materials are eco-friendly and less toxic, inviting minimum licence and permit requirements and other procedural formalities compared to traditional businesses. The licences and permits needed for Eco-friendly Construction Material Business include

  • Business Registration
  • Consent NOC from Pollution Control Board
  • MSME Registration
  • Factory’s Licences
  • GST Registration
  • Fire No Objection Certificate

Eco-Friendly Packaging Solutions

After the ban on single-use plastic and the costly compliance of plastic packaging, every business that requires packaging solutions is moving towards sustainable packaging options. A business that deals in Eco-friendly packaging solutions using biodegradable materials or reusable packaging helps businesses reduce their environmental impact. Today bioplastics, biodegradable packing, recycled packaging paper, and compostable packaging are in great demand. Sustainable packaging material can be based on compostable and biodegradable materials like corn starch, bio-based paper, and other agricultural waste. The economic benefits can be huge if you can introduce the right technology and product in this segment. These businesses can include innovative items like biodegradable foams, Bamboo Packaging, mushroom packaging, etc., that offer sustainable packaging alternatives and greater profit margins. The licences that these businesses will need can include

  • Pollution NOC from SPCB/PCC
  • Factory License
  • MSME registration
  • GST
  • Compostable plastic certificate
  • Fire NOC

Food Delivery Innovative Businesses

These types of businesses can Introduce innovative food delivery models such as cloud kitchens, subscription-based meal plans, or specialised cuisine delivery services. Leverage technology to enhance convenience and customer experience. This business model is gaining traction in India due to the rise of e-commerce, growing preference for affordable, high-quality food options and increasing demand for food delivery services. Food delivery businesses are also more cost-effective than traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, as they will need lower overhead costs on rent, utilities, staffing etc. The licences that will be needed in this business segment can include

  • Company registration
  • GST registration
  • Health Trade license
  • Pollution NOC from SPCB
  • FSSAI license

Waste Management Solutions

If you wish to solve some of the biggest problems faced by humanity today and make a high profit on the way, you can choose to start waste management services in solid waste/ plastic waste/ e-waste/ tyre waste/ biomedical waste/ battery waste etc. One can also develop eco-friendly waste management solutions such as recycling programs, composting services, or waste-to-energy technologies in this business segment, helping create and implement awareness programs. Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and Municipal authorities involved in collecting waste come up with tenders for waste recycling and disposal as the civic bodies cannot handle the substantial waste due to limited recycling capacities. The licenses and approvals for these businesses will depend on the type of waste being handled and can include

  • Authorisation from SPCB
  • Pollution NOC
  • MSME Registration
  • Agreements with Waste Recyclers/ Refurbisher/ TSDF/CBMWTF
  • GST
  • Fire NOC

Waste to Energy Business

Starting a waste-to-energy business can be profitable, but several factors influence its profitability, such as planning, financial analysis, and a thorough understanding of the waste management and renewable energy sectors. Therefore, assessing the demand for waste-to-energy solutions in your target market, population density, waste generation rates, and government policies promoting renewable energy and waste management can impact the demand for your services. Utilising advanced technologies and optimising energy generation from waste can improve operational efficiency and increase profitability. Also, access to a consistent and reliable supply of waste feedstock is crucial. Consider factors like waste collection infrastructure, waste segregation practices, and partnerships with waste management companies or municipalities to ensure a steady supply of suitable feedstock. Understanding the regulatory framework governing waste management and renewable energy in your region is also important. Compliance with environmental regulations and obtaining necessary permits and certifications will impact your business’s operational and financial aspects. The authorisation and licences needed to start operation include

  • Business Registration/Incorporation Certificate
  • Factory licence
  • GST Registration
  • Consent NOC from concerned SPCB/PCC
  • EPR from CPCB
  • Fire NOC

5 Business Ideas for Entrepreneurs in Rural India

When considering any business opportunity in rural India, it is necessary to identify the needs and challenges of the local community, conduct thorough market research, and tailor your business model to suit the rural context. Collaborate with local stakeholders, build strong community relationships, and adapt your offerings to address the unique requirements of rural customers. There are several opportunities that can be explored in rural India. Here are some of the popular ideas.

Agribusiness and Farming

There is a vast opportunity in Agribusiness and Farming in rural India. Farmers adopting innovative farming techniques are young and ready to take chances. They grow expensive vegetables and fruits for specific market segments and sell them directly to the consumer to maximise profit. New-age cultivation techniques can help farmers upscale their per unit production by up to 10 times, utilise 90% less water in the process, and keep the entire produce pesticide-free. As a business, you can provide agricultural support services like farm equipment rentals, irrigation solutions, or agricultural consultancy Investing in agricultural activities such as organic farming, hydroponic farming, horticulture, dairy farming, poultry farming, fish farming, or beekeeping is quite popular among investors today. While agricultural practices require no specific licence, entrepreneurs will need the following approvals if they want to enter the processing sector.

  • Pollution NOC
  • MSME Registration
  • Factory Licence
  • FSSAI Licence
  • CGWA NOC
  • Fire NOC

Rural Tourism

If you are located in a rural location that does not have access to popular lifestyle amenities, don’t worry. You can develop rural tourism that showcases rural areas’ unique culture, traditions, and natural beauty. You may offer farm stays, eco-tours, adventure activities, or cultural experiences to attract tourists and generate income for local communities. If you want to operate a homestay, you may approach the Tourism Department to obtain a license for homestay. However, the license must be renewed annually in concurrence with the local municipal body and the Police Department. The documents needed for applying for a licence include

  • Proof of lease/ownership of the building
  • Location plan showing building access from major roads
  • Elevation Plan of the Establishment
  • The photographs of the building (including interiors)
  • Police Clearance Certificate
  • Permission from the local authority

Renewable Energy Solutions

Install solar power[1] systems or small-scale wind turbines to provide clean & affordable energy solutions to rural areas. Offer energy services like charging stations for mobile devices or solar-powered lighting solutions. Starting a renewable energy business in India requires careful planning, adequate financing, adherence to regulatory requirements, and an understanding of India’s renewable energy sector. Some necessary licences and approvals needed for a business in this sector include

  • Business Registration
  • Registration with the REC
  • GST Registration
  • MSME Registration
  • Pollution NOC from SPCB/PCC
  • Permanent Account Number (PAN)
  • CEIG Approval
  • Factory Licence
  • Fire NOC

Handicrafts and Handloom Related Business

Closely following agriculture and providing direct and indirect employment to 35.23 lakh weavers, artisans and allied workers, handloom weaving is one of the largest economic activities. This sector contributes nearly 15% of cloth production and is practised in many rural parts of India. The industry contributes to export earnings also. About 95% of the world’s hand-woven fabric comes from India. Connecting local artisans and weavers who create traditional handicrafts, pottery, handloom textiles or woodwork to buyers domestically and internationally can benefit you and the weavers, artisans and allied workers. You can establish marketing channels to sell these products in urban markets or through e-commerce platforms.

The license that you will need in this business include

  • Business Registration
  • MSME Registration
  • Registration for Handloom Brand
  • IEC Certificate

Food Processing and Value Addition Business

The key segments of the food processing industry are the dairy sector, food retail, fruits and vegetables, poultry & meat processing, fisheries, etc. You can establish food processing units that add value to agricultural produce, such as fruit and vegetable processing, dairy product manufacturing, or spice grinding. This can help reduce post-harvest losses and increase farmers’ incomes. The entrepreneur needs an FSSAI licence and a Pollution NOC from SPCB to start a food processing business. The applicant must visit the OCMMS of the concerned SPCB/PCC and apply for a Pollution Board license for food processing units. The licences needed for this authorisation include

  • Company registration
  • GST registration
  • Health Trade license
  • Pollution NOC from SPCB
  • FSSAI license
  • Fire NOC

Conclusion

India is showing a strong recovery post-pandemic, with one of the highest growth rate anywhere in the world. Investors are ready to assist businesses that are sustainable and future-ready. Also, you won’t need a fortune to start the above-listed businesses. In fact, there is a list of schemes and financial assistance programs that support new entrepreneurs. Many bank schemes can assist you with your project financing. You can even start some of these businesses with the bare minimum and build your way up. The government has launched an initiative called “Start-up India”, which focuses on funding support and Incentives, simplification of rules and Industry-Academia Partnerships. If you are thinking of setting up a business that is eco-friendly and sustainable, now is the time. Let the experts handle the legal obligations of starting the business while you focus on bringing your dreams into reality.

Read Our Article: Pollution Board’s Guidelines For Waste Management In Dairy Farms In Urban And Rural Areas

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