Nupur Finds Her True Calling

Nupur Agarwal

Nupur Agarwal came back to her home town and joined her family business, but quickly realised that she wasn't enjoying it. Her educational and personal experience helped her to understand that she was meant to spread empowerment. She felt that her true calling was to empower people and communities, and combined with her business knowledge developed at Lancaster, she set up a Social Enterprise, Evolve.

Evolve creates smart sustainable villages in India. It empowers rural people by giving them employment within the village. Evolve focuses on three areas of development: Livelihood, Education and Healthcare.

"Being a social entrepreneur can be taboo, because the world is fundamentally capitalist. Evolve was incorporated in 2015 with a memorandum to revolutionize the rural economy of India and remove poverty. In our first quarter we launched a supremely innovative product, plantable pencil (pencil that grows into a plant, once it is being consumed) which was being manufactured at a village, Tauli Bhud, in the state of Uttarakhand. Manufacturing the product was a big challenge, but selling the product was bigger.

"Evolve started with an investment of $100" says Nupur. The journey has been very rough. We did not sell a single pencil in four months, therefore creating zero impact at the village despite the fact that there was no other product like ours which was benefiting people (both producer & consumer), planet and generating profit. We had to realign our business model from B2C to B2B. We then focused on selling to multinational, government and marketing companies."

" Simply manufacturing plantable pencils was not enough; we expanded our range and added plantable pens and paper. Now we have an extensive range of plantable stationery. The vision was big; it was about empowerment of rural India." Nupur then ran a pilot of a farmer's market in her home town with her co-founder Abhinav, to understand how to empower farmers. This action was born out of her time spent at University, which then gave birth to an organic and health food company called Kisan Window in 2017.

Both Evolve and Kisan Window products are sold across the world and have been bought by the Government of India and multinationals including Price Waterhouse Coopers, United Nations, Ashoka, Direct Action Dialogue, and Reserve Bank of India.

Evolve has successfully created India's first smart sustainable village. Presently we have around 20 administrative staff, an on ground sales team of 30, a manufacturing team of 50, and a volunteer and farmer's network of more than 2000.

Evolve and Kisan Window has been recognised by national and international media. They have received a number of awards from various platforms and world recognised organisations and have been nominated for the Presidential Award.

Nupur comments : "I cannot imagine doing anything else. I might or might not earn big money but I certainly add value and empower people and communities. Coming to Lancaster was a very big deal for me as I was the only child from the family who got a scholarship and could afford education in England. It was a privilege for me. Words cannot express what Lancaster has taught me and I will always be thankful to all my professors and faculty."

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