Three Wheels United (TWU) is an initiative focused on improving the lives of India’s estimated five-million auto-rickshaw drivers, initially in Bangalore. TWU was started by Dutch social enterprise Enviu, which promotes positive social and environmental impact through innovative public and private sector collaboration.

Bangalore’s estimated 100,000 drivers are among the city’s poorest urban inhabitants. Earning between 150-200 rupees (3-4 US dollars) daily, of which more than 20% goes to auto-rickshaw rental, drivers are ineligible for credit to purchase their own vehicles. Auto-rickshaw use in India is exploding, stimulating increased vehicle production. The auto rickshaw is therefore a fixture in urban Indian landscape and of source of employment. However, it is also a cause of increased pollution, hence harming the environment.

Acting as a channel between local banks and drivers, TWU is already offering loans to auto-rickshaw drivers at fair interest rates for drivers to replace “dirty” rental vehicles for their own clean, “green” ones. Based on classic microfinance, TWU also aims to increase driver’s revenues – thus, their standard of living – and target other Indian cities, but was facing challenges in meeting the same.

At this stage, ValuStrat Pro Bono entered into partnership with TWU to provide strategic advice on revenue generation, which boosts driver income between 70 – 400% and provides them better access to basic needs such as food, education and healthcare. TWU has facilitated 120 “green” auto-rickshaws and is steadily growing, expecting to reach break – even in 2013 and expand to new Indian cities. Social return on investment (SROI) – combined TWU net income, economic, social and environmental benefit is current at 261.4%.