Ankit Agarwal is the Founder of Phool, a social enterprise that has pioneered ‘flowercycling’ technologies to reduce the pollution in the Rivers Ganges by up-cycling the vast quantities of flower temple-waste in India. Every year, more than eight million metric tons of pesticide-laden temple-flowers are dumped in the Ganges, choking the river and causing severe health concerns like diarrhea, hepatitis and cholera. At Phool, over 8.4 tons of temple-waste is collected daily in Uttar Pradesh and converted into charcoal-free incense and an animal-free alternate to leather called Fleather (PETA’s Best Innovation in the Vegan World 2020).In the process, Phool employs women who were previously manual scavengers to sort the flower waste and hand roll the popular incense sticks. This transformational disease-free employment enables these women to shun lives in which they jump neck deep into clogged sewers to scrape human feces from dry toilets. Awarded the Fast company world changing ideas and recognized by Forbes, Fortune, and the Stanford Social Review, Phool is driving systematic change in a community that has been exploited for centuries by creating sustainable employment opportunities and revolutionizing the way India handles its ‘million-ton temple waste disposal’.
Ankit was named a Queens young leader in 2017 and is both an Echoing Green and Acumen Fellow. Ankit is amongst the 21 young leaders selected for extraordinary skills by the Asia Society and Recently received the prestigious United Nations Young Leader for Sustainable Development Goals Award, the Takeda Young Global Entrepreneur Award, the Unilever Young Entrepreneur Awards, and The GSG Millennial Honor.