Where Do I Start?

Anish Malpani
6 min readJun 3, 2020

I have been on a nervy adventure of starting a social enterprise focused on multidimensional poverty here in India. For those that have been following, some of y’all are probably wondering — dude, get with it already. Noted, noted, almost there.

For now, here’s where my heads at.

When it comes to starting a social enterprise, it’s super important to understand your burning, or the depth of the problem you care about. It’s a never-ending process, but probably the most important.

Over the past three years, I have been fortunate to have the resources to really understand the poverty space. I took all that and some of the skills I have nurtured to break down the problem in the detail that I needed. If you’re curious, here it is in all its pomp. If not, then this is what’s relevant:

~300 million people in India (or ~22%) are multidimensionally poor, and below is how they break out by occupation.

Based on the 2012 India Human Development Survey (IHDS) and my calculations.

~79% of all poor workers in India (~62 million) work either in agriculture or construction. Low skilled factory workers come third at 3%, which is substantially lower. The rest are 2% or less.

So if I was to follow my own research, it’s pretty clear. Focus on farmers. And if I want an urban life, focus on construction workers. Those are the biggest pieces of the poverty pie and they need the most amount of attention.

But that’s not what has been on my mind.

I have been drawn to the waste management space (specifically solid waste) in India for a couple of reasons.

One because it employs some of the poorest — waste pickers, scavengers, rag pickers. And two, because there is value in waste that can fuel financial sustainability while making mother earth better.

With regards to the first reason, there isn’t a whole lot of data available that isolates the poorest in the waste management space. Case in point: the data set I used in that graph-y analysis mentioned earlier. Out of the 50,000+ entries that were collected, I found maybe ten or twelve entries that had their job description as “waste picker” or a…

Anish Malpani

Trying to incubate my own social enterprise. Also these consume me: data, spoken-word and friggin’ Arsenal. https://anishmalpani.com