Event The 15-day Jagriti Yatra takes budding entrepreneurs through 8,000 kilometres across India

A team of 450 aspiring young entrepreneurs, 12 mentors, one train and a life-changing journey. It was like a classroom on wheels, quite literally so! The Jagriti Yatra that touched the city last week gave a peep into an initiative that has been encouraging the spirit of entrepreneurship among youth since its inception in 1998. Shashank Mani and Lt. Col. Suresh Patil, the men who have been with the journey of Jagriti Yatra from the start, shared the aims and objectives of the novel initiative. The 15-day-long national train journey takes the participants through 8,000 kilometres across the length and breadth of the country to “understand and build the India of smaller towns and villages through enterprise”.

Selected from 80,000 applicants across India and abroad, the 450 participants met role models, change-makers and leaders from different sectors during their journey. “The idea is to put a spark in the minds of the youngsters and expose them to various models of entrepreneurship in fields like agriculture, education, healthcare, manufacturing, water and sanitation and arts and culture,” says Col. Suresh Patil. Set up under a non-profit charitable organisation Jagriti Sewa Sansthan, Jagriti Yatra is headquartered in Mumbai.

While the journey exposes the participants to a host of ventures through their interactions with leaders such as Joe Madiath, Founder, Gram Vikas, and Kiran Majumdar Shaw, Founder, Biocon, the 15-day experience also instils many life skills among the participants. “Alertness, tolerance and teamwork are extremely crucial when starting your own enterprise. Jagriti Yatra teaches the participants all these skills. It is not easy to be with complete strangers hailing from diverse backgrounds. When the participants share a small train compartment together for so many days, it is a big learning ground,” adds Patil. The participants de-train at each location and meet with key role models representing different sectors of development.

The vision of Jagriti is ‘building India through enterprise’. It aims to inspire the young Indians living in the middle of the Indian demographic diamond to lead development by taking to enterprise, thus unleashing a movement of Enterprise -led-development.

The team recently did a survey across 2,300 participants of Jagriti Yatra and the findings were remarkable. “Nearly 18 to 19 per cent of the participants have started their own enterprise after the experience and around 25 per cent of them were involved in voluntary services,” said Shashank Mani, founder of Jagriti Yatra.

The interesting part of the initiative is that it saw an overwhelming response from smaller towns and rural parts- nearly 60 per cent of the participants are from that segment, said Mani.

The role of women in the entrepreneurship sector has also evolved in recent years. The fact that more than 40 per cent of participants of the Jagriti Yatra are women underlines this trend.