Sometimes, inspiration for the most brilliant of inventions can come from the most humbling of places. Such is the case for NirNal founder Niranjan Karagi while he was playing in a schoolyard nearby his home. During his free time, he noticed some small children using the playground and filling up their plastic water bottles from a potentially unsafe tap. Bearing witness to the scene, Niranjan reflected sadly on this reality and felt that all children should have clean water despite their income or area of residence. It was certainly not a surprise for the young leader to think of such social issues, given his involvement in the LEAD program at AITM College Belgaum. But it was this particular case that lead him to create something that would make a significant social impact for many people.
Water filtration became the main theme for Niranjan as he began to brainstorm ideas on providing a clean, low-cost source of water. Seeing as his research revealed the relatively high prices charged by competitors for filters, the future entrepreneur settled on creating a water filter that was both very affordable and portable for bottles. His first prototype used materials that were easily accessible around the house but after some assistance from LEAD, a second prototype was created that took Niranjan 4 painstaking months to perfect. The result was a small filter that could be fitted into any standard plastic bottle with an incredibly low cost of 20 rupees.
At that point, all the hard work put into the prototype paid off. An approval was given by the Food Divisional Officer stating that the filter could purify up to 100 litres of water. Furthermore, Niranjan turned to social entrepreneurship as a means of spreading his technology by agreeing to receive tier-ii incubation support in Belgaum by the Sandbox-IMER center. Sandbox Startups was instrumental to the founding of the NirNal enterprise, officially registered with the Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises in Belagavi. Furthermore, the incubation center gave him a platform to pursue his ideas for his product while gaining business knowledge about scalability and validity for the purposes of society. Complete with networking events, partnership opportunities, mentoring, and investor meetings, Sandbox Startups was an essential springboard to Niranjan’s growth as a social entrepreneur.
The social impact of his product has been significant. With the distribution of his product to various villages, schools, and even India’s military, it is evident that NirNal has been widely acclaimed for its ingenious and inexpensive technology. But on a personal level, Niranjan is happy with the fact that children could use his filter, knowing that they would always have a reliable source of water as they grow up. Niranjan’s initial wish to provide clean water to everyone has become more and more of a reality through the means of his portable water filter. This reality was made possible for thousands of people as 12,000 units of his filter have already been sold.
Indeed, it is exciting to see how NirNal will scale with its water filters. Niranjan himself has stated that he would like to improve the unit even further while maintaining a low price, all while maintaining his goal of providing clean water to all rural people. If he were to truly succeed in his endeavours, there would be much cause for celebration for this ingenious invention.