CISCO and Villgro Announce Winners of the TVARAN Acceleration Program aimed at Empowering Women-Led Start-Ups in Climate Action


CISCO and Villgro Announce Winners of the TVARAN Acceleration Program 

20 April 2023: India’s pioneering incubator for social enterprises, Villgro and CISCO, through its India Cash Grant Program, have jointly selected seven women-led start-ups in the climate action segment for their 6-month targeted acceleration program- TVARANThis unique initiative for women-led social enterprises in climate action aims to expand the market presence of women-led start-ups innovating in renewable energy, water and waste management, and climate-smart agriculture.

While women-led green-tech start-ups are creating significant impact, they continue to face many obstacles, including access to capital and markets. The TVARAN initiative aims to overcome this problem through a focused market-entry and market expansion program to help seven of the country’s best women-led climate solutions.

The selected seven enterprises will undergo the 6-month acceleration program designed to finance and implement the go-to-market strategies of women entrepreneurs. Through this high-engagement program, Villgro and CISCO will deploy support mechanisms in the form of financial support of INR 1.4 crore (up to INR 20 Lakhs – Grant support of 18 lakhs & technical support of 2 lakhs per start-up). Additionally, the start-ups will also be provided support in capacity building, business planning, mentorship, and peer learning, focussed towards the implementation of go-to-market strategies.


Commenting on the program, Jenaan Lilani Bhargava, COO, Villgro, said, “Women are at the forefront of climate action in India, and befittingly so, considering climate action outcomes are proved to improve with the participation of women. We had the pleasure of getting to know over 100 women-led solutions to climate change through this program and are excited about the seven that have been selected. Through the TVARAN initiative, we will work together with the entrepreneurs to  seize new market opportunities, expand across geographies and solve value chain problems that are standing in the way of their success.”

Speaking on the initiative, Harish Krishnan, Managing Director & Chief Policy Officer, Cisco India & SAARC, said, “We believe that empowering women entrepreneurs to drive innovation and impact is crucial for building a sustainable future for all. We are delighted by the overwhelming response to the program, which demonstrates that social impact entrepreneurs are passionate about expanding their market accessibility. While we received a number of outstanding entries, the selected start-ups all share a common quality- they are characterized by a unique blend of technology, innovation, sustainability, and social purpose and strive to create a positive impact in the ecosystem. With Villgro as our partner, we look forward to collaborating with these exciting and innovative start-ups and providing them with the support and guidance needed to pursue their ambitions.”

Applications for the TVARAN Accelerator Program were opened up for early-stage women entrepreneurs in October 2022. Only start-ups in the climate action sector that are founded/co-founded by women with at least 50% shareholding and playing an active decision-making role were eligible for this program. The program received 140 applications from across India, of which 11 start-ups were selected for one month of focussed go-to-market and scaling support, including four masterclasses on critical topics such as finance for scaling, the business value of impact data, understanding customers through design thinking, and building strong pitches. All 11 then pitched to a Jury consisting of experts from CISCO, Villgro, and BYST (Bhartiya Yuva Shakti Trust). The seven winners who will participate in the TVARAN program are Climate Sense, Green Grahi, Green Delight, MOWO Fleet, Swachha Eco Solutions, KNP Arises Green Energy and Bharat Krushi Seva.