Sparking change

Pathik Pathak

Pathik Pathak  


The Spark India programme encourages students to apply innovation and business models to tackle social and environmental problems through social entrepreneurship

From increasing incidence of gang rapes, domestic abuse and crimes against women, to issues such as deforestation, and drop in global temperatures, social and environmental problems are rocketing at an alarming rate. Conventional methods are not adequate to nip problems in the bud; there is a need for innovation to tackle them. Enter, the trend of social entrepreneurship.

Pathik Pathak, faculty director of Social Entrepreneurship and founding director of University of Southampton’s Social Impact lab, sheds light on this trend, the lab, and the Spark India 2019 programme.

“Social entrepreneurship is the application of skills, ingenuity, innovation and business models to tackle social and environmental problems. It is relevant today because our global challenges are outspacing our solutions, and traditional means of change-making, such as public policy and charity, are insufficient,” he explains. “It attracts many students as they aspire to use their skills to work on the world’s most pressing challenges and to help build more inclusive skills. While many are entering the sector as social entrepreneurs, there are also opportunities in the supporting ecosystems, whether it involves working in incubators, accelerators, or as a social impact investors.”

Sparking change

Impact leaders

It is in this context that the Spark India 2019 programme gains relevance. In this fellowship experience, which takes place in Mumbai annually, students from different countries work on challenges, set by some of India’s most innovative social entrepreneurs, to meet diverse social needs. “In the process, they take steps towards becoming world-class social impact leaders. The programme is a unique combination of collaborative problem-solving with a personal leadership journey, in one of the most fascinating countries in the world. We selected students using several criteria such as open-mindedness, humility, enthusiasm, their understanding of India and the social sector, and their volunteering experience, among others,” elaborates Pathak. “We selected seven Fellows, who had already gained a wealth of experience and would be confident in the programme, and some who would benefit from the experience, as they had not done anything like it before. We are always keen to recruit students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and we have a strong record of selecting a majority of women.”

So, what kind of issues did the Fellows address this year? “They worked with a number of our partners in India, to combat a wide range of social issues including gender equality and the environment. Some of our partners included Kranti, an organisation that empowers trafficked girls and re-homes daughters of sex workers; Safecity, which make cities safer by encouraging equal access to public spaces for everyone, especially women; Down to Earth, which engages children and youngsters from humble backgrounds by facilitating education; Sampurn(e)arth Environment Solutions, a market leader in waste management; Acumen Fund, an international non-profit organisation that is changing the way the world tackles poverty, and RN Podar School,” lists Pathak.

Some of the Fellows share their experience.

Sparking change
Dimitris Stoidis, IV, MEng Aerospace Engineering

A truly transformative programme where one has the opportunity to learn about different change-making organisations. Spark India literally provides the spark for an individual’s personal development journey.

Sparking change
Kristi Liina Vahl, I, M.Sc Business Management

The programme is an amazing opportunity for personal development, and finding areas of improvement while building on one’s strengths. The continuous support from the cohort, and the programme leads, create an experience that leave a lasting impact .

Sparking change
Isabelle Freeman, M.Sc in International Relations

The skills and lessons taught are invaluable in facilitating significant personal growth, in a mere 10 days.

Sparking change
Mateusz Blazewicz, III, student of History

An eye-opening experience which shows you a bit of what people in India do and how they live. There is so much more to this country than lovely food, tourist sites, or crowds. There is the everyday struggle of individuals or groups to improve the lives of each other. A Spark India Fellow would gain insights into all this and more. What’s more, through workshops, which are part of this programme, he/she would delve further into himself/herself.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 6:57:33 PM |

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