Initiative Education

When ideas spark change

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Enactus, an international not-for-profit organisation, aims to develop value-driven leaders for communities

With several impediments to development, one of the means to addressing them is social entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs who can develop and implement solutions to issues spanning the social, cultural and environment sectors are the need of the hour. It also helps that organisations such as Enactus tap into students’ potential and interest at the college level, encouraging them to think of a prospective future in developing sustainable and innovative solutions through entrepreneurship.

Enactus is an international, not-for-profit organisation. It works with global business, academic institutions and students, specifically partnering with 72,000 students at 1,730 campuses worldwide. Enactus establishes student programmes on campuses around the world, working with the support of the faculty and a local business advisory board.

One such programme has been established at Kirori Mal College, Delhi, where the student chapter runs four projects, namely Project Dor, Project Patradya, Project Janbhoomi, and Project Syahi all committed to the upliftment of marginalised communities through entrepreneurial action.

Project Patradya produces edible cutlery in different flavours like chocolate, coffee and achari. Project JanBhoomi aims to tackle the problem of land degradation by producing organic and environment-friendly compost. A recent endeavour, Project Syahi combats plastic menace by replacing single-use plastic pens with paper pens that have a seed attached at the rear-end.

Sustainable solutions

The idea behind Project Dor, besides helping an underprivileged community, is to sustain a dying art form. It deals with the traditional art of tie and dye for the production of handmade scarves, dupattas and cushion covers. The artisans behind it are the migrant women of West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Ritika Jajoo, President, Enactus Kirori Mal College, explains the process: “Any Enactus project starts as a mere idea. We pick a problem, and work towards finding a solution. The ideas go through an extensive research and development phase. In this process, we also find underprivileged communities we can help sustain through the project, and do their needs assessment. We then go through a process of training with the beneficiaries.”

The students are involved at every stage. They interact with the community, while supervising the production process. The designs are researched upon according to market analysis and demand. With a stable and efficient production in place, the members, along with the beneficiaries, are currently focusing more on the marketing and sales of the products. The product is marketed through collaborations with boutiques and corporates.

Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. At the Marine Plastic Innovation Challenge hosted by the UN Environment Programme, the team received a ‘Honourable Mention’. They have also received grants from several corporates. They were chosen to be in the ‘Top 12’ at an Innovation Challenge, hosted in IIM, Ahmedabad this July.

For students who have to balance academics with projects that require an equal investment of their effort and time, what is the benefit of this exercise besides a CV point? “A plethora of soft skills, real world experience and corporate exposure with the satisfaction of making a difference,” says Jajoo. “Everything you learn in books, you get to apply in the real world. Enactus helps inculcate the value of social entrepreneurship in students and polishes their skill set to develop them into more effective, values-driven leaders.”

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 6:38:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/when-ideas-spark-change/article30122613.ece

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