Prerna Wadikar from Bengaluru has come up with a one-of-a-kind invention that makes portable energy access more affordable using lithium-ion battery technology.
Prerna, who pursued an engineering degree in computer science, did her Masters in Public Policy from IIM-Bengaluru and later went on to pursue MBA from Oxford University.
For her effort in making a socially conscious innovation, she received the Vice Chancellor’s Social Impact Award from Oxford University in 2021.
The award is given to university students who show exceptional achievement and commitment to positive social change.
She was awarded not only for her invention but also for her contributions to Oxfordshire, where she worked with immigrant communities and also extended the Oxford India Business Conclave to the students of India.
She tells The Better India that growing up she was always inspired by her grandmother. She says, “Everyone in my house gave importance to education. My grandmother did her PhD after the birth of her fifth child. She used to teach in a school and also run a part-time free school at her home. She was my biggest inspiration because she made her mark during an era when no importance was given to educating girls.”
Her mother, a yoga teacher, has always encouraged her to use science for the betterment of people. She says, “Since childhood, there was always an atmosphere in my home that encouraged me to do or learn something new.”
All about ‘Jeeva’
The portable energy device named Jeeva, which resembles a ‘power bank’ can be charged using either a solar panel or an electric grid, both embedded in the device itself.
“Jeeva takes around an hour for a single charge. Once fully charged, it provides an output of 75Wh and has the capacity to run three devices simultaneously. It makes it more affordable,” Prerna says.
Besides inventing the portable power bank, she has also started her social enterprise – Jeeva Global.
Talking about her vision, she says that the device was modelled in order to support the most deprived segment, micro and nano entrepreneurs. “I designed the device while keeping in my mind the street vendors or pushcart vendors not only in India but also in other countries, who have been deprived of government support and livelihoods especially due to the pandemic.”
She further adds, “Not just in businesses, the device can also be used to run vaccine refrigerators in primary health centres, bulbs, fans in shops and also to light homes in rural areas.”
Prerna says that she designed the device with the help of a Bengaluru based company, Livaah Innovations Pvt Ltd. “I received full cooperation from the company’s director Bharat Krishna Rao. He has been working on green infrastructure for a long time.
Additionally, Dr Satya, who worked on Lithium-Ion technology, came onboard. With their help, I designed my device and after that, a pilot project was conducted in Varanasi. The project was a success and we got a positive response.”
Rao says, “Our company is already making solar and battery-powered products using IoT technology. So, it was a pleasure for us to work with Prerna’s idea.”
Prerna is looking forward to scaling up her product and also using her green energy enterprise, Jeeva Global, to reach out to the small entrepreneurs, public and social organisations.
You can read this story in Hindi here.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)