Two Indian startups, Global Himalayan Expedition and Sakha Consulting Wings, both of which promote sustainable development using tourism as a driver have won the highest grants in Booking.com’s Booster programme. The winners were unveiled at a grand ceremony at The Tobacco Theatre in Amsterdam. While Sakha won a grant of 325,000 euros, Global Himalayan Expedition won a whopping 400,000 euros. There were a total of 10 startups shortlisted and all of them received some part of the grant.
Founded by Paras Loomba and Jaideep Bansal, Global Himalayan Expedition leads tourism expeditions to remote Himalayan unelectrified villages and sets up solar microgrids to bring them out of darkness. Sakha Consulting Wings, Women on Wheels, was founded by Meenu Vadera with the aim of providing safe transport solutions by empowering women with necessary training to become self sustained personal drivers and chauffeurs.
“The vision and passion that we’ve seen from all the startups this year has been truly inspiring,” said Gillian Tans, president and CEO of Booking.com. “I was especially impressed with Wheel the World’s moving mission to empower people with disabilities to explore the world within the adventure travel sector, Sakha’s commitment to empowering women in India to take control of their livelihoods and of course with how GHE is literally bringing light to remote mountain villages through their Himalayan expeditions. We’re all looking forward to seeing how their plans unfold over the coming weeks and months as we work together to bring their vision for a more sustainable travel industry to even more destinations worldwide.”
Last year, an Indian startup called Authenticook by Ameya Deshpande won a grant of 200,000 euros. The Mumbai-based startup helps travellers get a taste of authentic homemade cuisine, by connecting residents with tourists online.
“With India’s Authenticook taking out one of the highest grants at last year’s inaugural Booking Booster event, it’s clear that India is an important source of talent when it comes to startups. We are delighted that two startups from India with great ideas focused on sustainable tourism were a part of the grand finale and both have received a combined total grant of €7.25 lakhs. Our aim is to build a network of like-minded organisations and individuals that are leveraging technology to create a more sustainable future for destinations worldwide as such initiatives further expand our commitment to make a positive impact globally.” said Ritu Mehrotra, country manager India, Booking.com on the sidelines of the Booking Booster finale held at Tobacco theatre, Amsterdam.
Building upon its successful launch in 2017, Booking Booster is Booking.com’s three week accelerator programme consisting of a series of lectures, hands-on workshops and coaching that culminates in a final pitch for early stage sustainable tourism startups to win the grants.