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Three Wheels United one of the 1% chosen by renowned Techstars Accelerator

Three Wheels United, founded by Enviu in 2011, is accepted into the Techstars Dubai Accelerator 2019 in partnership with Ginco Investments! The program is one of the world’s top technology accelerators. Less than 1% is selected of the applicants: Three Wheels United was unanimously chosen by the selection committee because of their innovative approach, the huge market possibility, and the societal and environmental relevance. We are proving impact meets business!

Only 1% of applicants are chosen

“After an extensive worldwide recruitment process and a record number of applicants, 10 global companies were diligently chosen to participate in the program for 2019. All 10 selected startups will go through an intensive 13-week acceleration process centred around mentorship, curated workshops and supported by the Techstars ‘power of the network’” said Vijay Tirathrai, Managing Director of Techstars Dubai.

Alongside a global network of support, each participating startup will be eligible to receive $120,000 as an initial investment along with the lifelong support of Techstars and the Gheyath family. Additionally, the companies will be eligible for over $2 million in perks provided by partners such as Amazon Web Services, SendGrid, Dentons, and others. The companies will join a family of over 1600 Techstars companies who have collectively exceeded $17 Billion in market capitalization.

Proving impact meets business

Three Wheels United won many big prizes already, including being endorsed as one of the most innovative Climate Finance Instruments in the world by the Climate Policy Initiative and becoming a finalist for Sankalp Award, Smart City Expo award, and Climate & Clean Air Award. But all of these are mostly in the impact field. TechStars on the other hand is one of the most prestigious commercial accelerators.

There has always been tension when combining the fields of impact and business. And often impact is not seen as a possible commercial success. But thankfully this is changing. Within Enviu we believe business and impact should go hand in hand. By building companies with the aim to change the world, like Three Wheels United, we are on our way to proving that impact-driven businesses can reach large (commercial) scale too. And we are seeing this more and more in practice.

Michiel Elich, CEO Enviu: “We are extremely proud that one of our social enterprises, set up to make an impact on a social and sustainable level, has been selected by one of the largest business accelerators worldwide. It is the ultimate proof that impact and business go together, and a great encouragement to continue our mission worldwide.”

Three Wheels United’s annual 1 billion dollar market opportunity

Three Wheels United provides tech-enhanced climate finance to auto rickshaw drivers in India. As with many countries in the Global South, many small business owners such as auto rickshaw drivers, do not have access to finance due to a phenomenon known as the missing middle – Micro finance institutions can only provide small ticket sizes, while banks operate on a low touch model.

Because of this more than 70% of the 12 million auto rickshaw drivers are stuck in having to rent carbon-heavy vehicles as they cannot afford their own. This leads to an annual emission of more than 23 million tons of CO2.

In order to bridge this gap, Three Wheels United developed an innovative financial technology, in partnership with Microsoft Research, allowing them to mitigate risks while providing low-income auto rickshaw drivers with a loan to purchase a smart electric vehicle. This financial technology reduces default rates from 30% in the market to less than 1%. Over 500 thousand auto rickshaws were sold annually over the last 5 years, creating a market opportunity of nearly 1 billion USD per year.

Poised to scale this innovative solution

To date Three Wheels United has generated over 74 million dollars of extra income for drivers, and reduced CO2 by over 22,000 tons over the life cycle of their vehicles.

With the help of TechStars this world changing company is poised to scale their solution across India. Right now they aim to finance 12,000 vehicles  in the next four years, reaching break even in December 2020. In the future Three Wheels United intends to license their financial technology to other financiers with low-income clients and provide other climate finance to SMEs in the Global South .

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Kevin Wervenbos

Investment Manager

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