Manu Balachandran is a writer for Forbes India, based in Bengaluru. At Forbes India, Manu writes on automobiles, aviation, pharmaceuticals, banking, infrastructure, economy and long profiles among many others. He also moderates many of Forbes India's CEO and CXO events and hosts Capital Ideas, a podcast on the most riveting success stories from the business world. He has previously worked with Quartz, The Economic Times and Business Standard in Mumbai and New Delhi. Manu has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University and a degree in economics from the Loyola College. When not chasing stories, he is most likely obsessing over Formula 1 (Read: Lewis Hamilton), historical events and people, or planning long weekend drives from Bengaluru
For Kaushal Shetty, it all began from a personal trauma. Growing up in the lush green village of Madi near Udupi in Karnataka, Shetty had seen first-hand how his village would often be inundated during monsoons when the Ghataprabha River swelled. The floods ravaged homes, and caused damage to farmlands and yields, leaving many people to live a life of day-to-day sustenance.
“My family later moved to Mumbai,” Shetty tells Forbes India. “But many others weren’t lucky like me. The trauma of displacement stayed with me.”
Years later, as a student at the illustrious Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Shetty again witnessed the damage left behind by Cyclone Fani that had hit the eastern coast. Cyclone Fani had caused damages to the tune of some $8 billion and left about 1.2 million people displaced.
That’s when Shetty and his classmate, Madhav Datt, came up with Nostos Home, a non-profit that builds shelters that are modular, lightweight and can be easily transported to affected areas. “Every year, some 80 million people are displaced, and we started out by participating in competitions where we showcased our homes,” Shetty says. “At the cost of a tent, we provide a robust and safe place. These homes restore privacy, personal dignity, and safety in times of crisis.”
The company outsources its manufacturing, and its products are often made into flat, packable solutions that can then be transported and assembled easily. The company provides instruction for the assembly. “They can last for many years, and then be repacked and sent to another location,” Shetty says. Also read: Genrobotics: Using robots to curb a social evil
Among others, Nostos provides enough material to build living spaces, solar panels, sanitation systems, and are customisable and expandable. This allows residents to add new rooms, reorient existing ones for purposes such as housing cattle, serving as shared community spaces, education and health facilities.
So far, the company has provided its services in Assam and Nagaland, and in Africa, and is currently working with governments and agencies to scale up its offering to provide homes for the displaced. This year, Shetty reckons Nostos Homes will be able to build and deploy over 100 Nostos units.
“Eight less privileged but carefully selected families were gifted with a new climate-proof and disaster-resilient semi-detached home each,” says Anock Kapira, national director, Habitat for Humanity Malawi. “The work was intense, and time was limited. It was the excellent support and expert process facilitation by Kaushal and Nostos Homes that led to the timely shipment and delivery of the prefabricated homes to Malawi.”
Shetty, who works as a senior product manager at Mastercard, is now looking for more avenues to expand its offerings, including setting up health care facilities in remote locations. “We are now looking to work closely with governments and agencies to create a positive impact,” Shetty says.