Institute Institute 2013 Talk

How India’s Trash is 1 Woman’s Fortune

On an otherwise reasonable evening in July, over 1000 people packed an auditorium in Boulder Colorado for the culmination of the Unreasonable Institute. They came to watch 12 ventures, tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges, take the stage and share their plans to help define progress in our time. This is one of those talks.


The entrepreneur in this video is Madhumita Puri, Founder and CEO of Trash to Cash.

What Does Trash to Cash Do?

In India, 99% of adults with disabilities are unemployed. Trash to Cash trains adults with a variety of disabilities in India to collect trash and turn it into beautiful products that can be sold in India and elsewhere. Since 2008, we have generated $220,000 and employed 87 women with disabilities who would otherwise be without employment.

Our strategy uses waste material as raw material to reduce operational costs and increase profits. Traditional crafts persons (who were struggling to earn) are our trainers. Since the products are creative and different, they are frequently reported by the media, which helps reach out to a vast and diverse population. We also provide eco-friendly kits for conferences and seminars. Thus, in 4 years we have established a venture that maximizes profits, employs 87 people (including women) considered to be unemployable, with raw materials that pollute our waters and lands, to showcase that employment is possible!

Encouraging the replication of this model in other parts of India will provide income to many more.

About the author

Unreasonable Institute

Unreasonable Institute

The Unreasonable Institute arms entrepreneurs creating solutions to the world’s biggest social and environmental problems with the mentorship, capital, and networks they need to do so.