India startup challenge: Solutions for people with special needs


Varija Life , a nonprofit, and Startup Buddy have announced a competition for startups offering solutions for people with physical or mental special needs.

Prizes worth Rs 10 lakh ($13,172) have been announced for the winners of this startup challenge, , Starable, which is being held in association with Startup India, the government initiative for the startup ecosystem.

Apart from mentorship and guidance from industry experts, the winners will get access to various other grants and investment opportunities.

The initiative aims to encourage entrepreneurs and investors to tap the market for disabled which is unexplored — with very little competition and a huge market size.

Varija Life, under Varija Bajaj, is a not-for-profit organization working in the area of disability awareness. The organization is conducting research on clothing for persons with disabilities through 27 fashion colleges.

“Starable is an initiative to encourage entrepreneurs and investors in order to create a robust eco-system for persons with special needs including old age disability. I wish to mobilize the infrastructure, facilities, education, government and even people’s perception towards people with special needs,” says Bajaj.

Amit Singal, co-founder of Startup Buddy, says: “The purpose of the initiative is to empower aspiring entrepreneurs to innovate and unleash their talent for this untapped segment. I am really overwhelmed with the feedback of various stakeholders and experts in the startup ecosystem and their zest to promote such initiatives.”

According to the WHO Disability Report, 1 billion people or 15 percent of the world’s population experience some form of disability. Although there is no recent census data available in India in this segment, WHO estimates that disability prevalence is higher than 15 percent in developing countries.

And post the pandemic, the disability numbers are expected to increase due to poverty, malnutrition, inadequate access to education and health care, unsafe working conditions, a polluted environment, and lack of access to safe water and sanitation.

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