Young entrepreneurs: Rhea Silva, Chototel

On a mission to eradicate the suffering caused by housing poverty, this 24-year-old is launching an innovative hotel in India charging just $2-5 per night  

Name: Rhea Silva
Company: Chototel
Age: 24
Website: www.chototel.co.uk

Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Rhea Silva was all too aware of the damage that housing shortages were inflicting on people’s lives.

So, having already built a career in real estate and hotels, the inspiring entrepreneur resolved to help solve this crisis… aged just 23 at the time.

After moving to London in 2016, Silva was able to kickstart her solution Chototel, a budget housing option for urban service workers offering rooms at just $2 to $5 per night, complete with unlimited gas, electricity and water. The first 240-room hotel is set to open this May in Nagothane, 70km from Mumbai.

Dubbed “the people’s hotel”, Chototel will provide utilities and services for which customers pay an additional charge. This money will fund the operational expenses of the building, which are expected to be small due to the unmanned hotel technology which will manage check-ins, billing, financial reporting and more.

Unsurprisingly, Silva has already received enough enquiries to book the entire hotel out, which is an indication of the immensely positive impact Chototel will have on those hit by housing poverty – not to mention the start-up’s growth potential.

Though her previous career saw her hold the role of managing partner at her family’s real estate business while heading up business development strategies for two start-ups, you could say that social enterprise runs in Silva’s blood. Her father brought the very first broadband ISP to India, while her granduncle set up the first co-operative bank in the slums of Mumbai.

However, Silva says she has faced her own hurdles in starting and scaling a business – particularly as a woman in business – having to “challenge social expectations and defy stereotypes daily” in order to gain respect as a business owner.

Yet, in spite of this, Silva has succeeded in scaling Chototel to employ over 30 members of staff and turnover is set to hit a healthy £1m for 2017.

Silva’s mission is to play a part in eradicating housing poverty, and she plans to expand her business’ offering to five million rooms over the next decade with ambitions to open new sites in London, Bristol, and India.

With such high – and rapidly rising – demand for her service, we expect huge things from Silva and her innovative work.

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