3 questions to Namita Banka, founder of Banka Bioloo, an environmentally friendly bio-toilets
09.25.2013 by Namita Banka
Namita is one of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards’ finalists for the Asian-pacific region.
Women's Forum: How did you come with this business idea?
Namita Banka: I was aware of the lack of adequate sanitation in India, and as a working woman I felt the suffering this involves. In 2009, I got an opportunity to work with the Indian Railways in the area of sanitation and toilet technologies. I took the initiative of operations and maintenance of these toilets, and ensured that they function effectively and are clean. Bio-toilet was a new technology that the Railways were in the process of prototyping for trial in trains, to avoid fecal matter dropping on the tracks. Working on this helped me identify the utility of the bio-toilets even in other areas, including far-flung rural places, and slums that don’t have toilets. Over a period of time, we’ve installed these toilets in various geographies, providing toilets where such facilities are inadequate or non-existent.
Women's Forum: The theme of this year is “The open world: Compete, cooperate, create”, how can the 3Cs be applied to your business?
Namita Banka: The 3Cs apply very aptly to Banka BioLoo. Creating is very natural to us. We’ve created a new system of human waste treatment at source, not requiring heavy infrastructure or energy. The company is creating and spreading happiness and healthy living through better and decent sanitation systems. The solutions are customised according to the need and budget of an individual or group.
We co-operate with NGOs, government agencies and others to reach out to the clients and the beneficiaries. The whole business revolves around key resources and partners such as vendors, clients, channel partners, financiers and others. So cooperation is obvious.
Finally, competition helps us drive innovation and bring improvements in business. Competition is not really about "eating each other", or grabbing as much market share as we can. The opportunities for us are vast and many, and we always strive to enhance the market base. We look for competition to improve effectiveness in the systems and solutions that we provide, bring efficiency in our business processes – manufacturing, distribution and other operational aspects.
Women's Forum: What role do women play in terms of business and political leadership in India?
Namita Banka: Culturally, women were traditionally seen as primarily homemakers and caretakers of the family. They now stand tall and are at the helm of affairs in business and polity. In businesses they help shape policies, and they are seen as more society-friendly and rational. Indian women leaders believe that there’s more to business than profit. We have many women CEOs in almost all industries who have helped bring new themes to business. Politics in India, too, has undergone substantial change and more women are actively participating in governance at various levels. They seek to bring forth women and socially friendly policies, provide better amenities for their commmunities, and ensure overall well-being. Women leaders have changed the way people think and react to business and politics.