5 Ventures Changing the Climate Conversation

by Elaine Johanson, Senior Writer

The results of human progress have often been unkind to our shared planet. Our most frequently used forms of transportation add significant CO2 to the atmosphere as well as a host of cancer-causing substances. PFAS chemicals improve our cookware, dental floss, and firefighting foam, but can cause serious health problems. And solar solutions are simply not getting to the people who can most use them. Increasingly, we’re recognizing the need for smart, scalable, earth-friendly and consumer-friendly solutions. Luckily, entrepreneurs are in a unique position to develop solutions that not only improve lives but improve the health of our planet.

The Harvard Climate Entrepreneurs Circle is a new initiative that aims to bring together Harvard-affiliated venture leaders working on climate change-related ventures. Through the circle, members support each other as they build solutions that can make a difference. The Climate Circle program is a joint effort between the Harvard Innovation Labs and the Harvard Alumni for Climate and the Environment (HACE), with support from HBS’s Business and Environment Initiative. Together, these ventures are launching a future we can all thrive in.

Here are five of the many ventures in the Climate Circle that are changing the conversation around climate and entrepreneurship:

1. Metafin’s customized financial model enables customers to pay for solar energy with the savings they gain from it.

In India, air pollution is a major health concern, reducing life expectancy for up to 40% of the population. Access to solar energy could make a difference, but few homeowners and businesses can afford the steep upfront costs. Metafin — a cleantech venture based in Delhi and Mumbai — enables customers to install solar solutions, then pay for them with monthly installments with the savings they gain from not paying for traditional forms of energy.

2. SubjectToClimate’s online connector helps K-12 teachers of all subjects find science-based, unbiased, and engaging materials on climate change.

Students of all ages are curious about the environment and serious about investigating the subject. SubjectToClimate helps teachers meet their students’ passion with credible, high-quality, student-appropriate materials about climate change, no matter the subject. Their platform also connects educators with each other as a place to network, answer questions, and exchange ideas.

3. Onvector harnesses lightning to purify water by destroying the bonds in forever chemicals.

PFAS are a group of strongly bonded, synthetic chemicals that can be found in industrial manufacturing as well as our everyday lives: dental floss, stain-resistant carpets, non-stick frying pans, and more. Unfortunately, once those chemicals get in our bodies, they can contribute to the risk of cancer and decrease fertility. Onvector has developed an energy efficient and environmentally friendly way to purify industrial wastewater by breaking PFAS molecules into their base elements to neutralize them.

4. Anuel’s solar fintech makes solar energy accessible to customers in Uganda.

Energy access is still out of reach for many. In 2019, only 41% of people in Uganda had access to electricity, and 0% had access to clean cooking. Fin-e, an offshoot of Anuel Energy Inc., was created to change that. Fin-e connects solar merchants and industry-specific lenders with homeowners who want to make the transition to solar. Fin-e also enables last-mile customer support through an army of technicians on the ground. The result is that customers gain a reliable solar power supply wherever they live.

5. Ghoom’s electric two-wheeler and battery subscriptions help customers find work and multiply their earnings.

Because of Covid-19, an informal service economy in India grew into 200 million people whose jobs are on the road. Unfortunately, without a regular income or job security, they often can’t secure a loan to help them afford the vehicle they need. Ghoom’s ecosystem of vehicles, batteries, and charging options help customers get on the road without adding significant emissions.

The Harvard Innovation Labs is a community dedicated to furthering innovative ideas by students and alumni from all thirteen Harvard schools. Visit our Venture Profile page to learn more about individual teams and the problems they’re solving! These five profiles are part of our series on ventures in the inaugural Harvard Climate Entrepreneurs Circle, a global cohort of Harvard students and alumni actively working on solutions that tackle climate change. Want to learn more about what businesses are doing, can do, and should do to confront climate change? Check out the BEI Climate Rising podcast, hosted by Rebekah Emanuel, Director of Social Entrepreneurship for the Harvard Innovation Labs.

Supporting innovation and entrepreneurship at Harvard, and the greater Boston ecosystem.