PAANI co-founders receive IFundWomen Idea Grant

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Congratulations to Nikita Chatterjee ’20 and Brianna Howard ’20, co-founders of PAANI, who were selected for an IFundWomen Idea Grant in honor of National Women’s Small Business Month.  IFundWomen awards only six idea stage grants nationally to female entrepreneurs who are working on pre-revenue startups.  The goal of the program is to give entrepreneurs a launchpad to grow brilliant ideas into revenue-generating, successful businesses.

IFundWomen provides a platform for women-led businesses to access capital through online fundraising, access to small business grants, expert coaching, professional creative production, a collaborative entrepreneur community, and access to industry connections critical to launching and growing businesses. Grants are available from generous partners like adidas, Unilever, Visa, Barbara Corcoran & Systane, GingerBread Capital, and more.  The program also supports their portfolio companies with access to capital, coaching, and connections.

The program was started to address the lack of funding options for women entrepreneurs.  “Women are starting businesses 4.8 times faster than the national average, yet struggle to access capital without going into debt,” notes IFundWomen.  “Only 1% of all businesses, regardless of the gender of the founder, will ever raise venture capital. At IFundWomen, we believe that nobody should go into debt funding the early days of a business.”

Chatterjee and Howard also recently completed the prestigious Blackstone & Techstars Fellowship program which provided $5,000 in funding to help achieve milestones on their path to product development. 

Working with local and global mentors, along with water quality experts, PAANI’s mission is to promote culturally appropriate clean water solutions in low-income communities, through practices that are safer and more efficient. 

The team is launching in Southeast Asian, bridging the gap between technology and everyday cultural behaviors of women in the slums of India, through a water filtration system built into the sari cloth, a traditional garment worn by women throughout India. For centuries, women have used the sari to filter their water, but the fabric alone did not capture fine particulates, bacteria and other contaminants. PAANIs multilayered filtration system is a proprietary technology the team expects to patent.

A mock prototype was developed through the Invent@SU program and has undergone further iteration.  It is now being independently tested, with further development is currently underway.  The team has been working with the LaunchPad on its business model for the past two years, since completing the Invent@SU program.

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If you are female founder exploring early-stage funding, learn more about IFundWomen here: