Today, on a world tour of social entrepreneurship, I participated in an extraordinary event, and for the first time, I am almost convinced to start as a social entrepreneur at the end of my studies. I even have an idea.
The purpose of this unique event is to make each participant a job-creator entrepreneur rather than a job seeker. This entrepreneurial awakening aims to inspire these 450 young people to start businesses to build a better India (Enterprise-led development). The aim is to put in place solutions that enable “oil-tasking” development, i.e. holistic, sustainable, non-governmental, complementary, collaborative, inclusive and replicable solutions.
A collective emulation
Students, employees or entrepreneurs; urban or rural areas; engineers, salespeople or politicians; Indian or international, we are both great diversity and unity. We are all there for the same reasons: to discover the “real India”, to better understand the model of social entrepreneurship, to make us “changemakers” friends, to get to know each other better.
Each of us dreams of a career with impact, with the company as a vector. Questioning the pre-established models, we were marginal in our surroundings, businesses or schools.
It is a unique opportunity – the experience of a lifetime – to climb into the Jagriti Yatra, but also a responsibility. Everyone will have to bring change to their community on their return. From the first day’s introduction, the tone is set: “The country is watching, the country is waiting”, announces Shashank Mani, the founder.
A spirit of the body
We’re going to change. These things will not change until we have changed ourselves. Some things we’ve seen, and others we’ll see. Some things are written, and others we will write. Ahead of friends, it’s time for a change! Ahead of friends, it’s time for progress! The winds ask us not to stop, Heaven asks us not to weaken, The earth asks us to touch and feel it, Look at your destiny, and do not fear the truth. Ahead of friends, it’s time for a change! Ahead of friends, it’s time for progress!”
In this hymn, it is not a question of “bloody banner” or “ferocious soldiers”, only of being the change, we want to see in the world. Every time I listen to it again, this “Yaaron Chalo” gives me chills, reminding me of both my responsibility and that spirit of the body that unites us.
The tour is punctuated by visits from so-called role models. But not just any of them. If social entrepreneurs, who work for the public interest by taking an individual risk, are the heroes of the 21st century, those of Jagriti Yatra are superheroes. From the mythical Aravind Eye Care to the inevitable Barefoot College, via Goonj or Naandi, all these organizations were created by social entrepreneurs who have challenged the status quo and who today impact the lives of millions of people. Visionaries, inspiring, affordable: how can you not want to look like them?
A demystification of entrepreneurship
With remarkable closeness, each of them took the time to revisit the difficulties and joys of the “trade” of a social entrepreneur, as well as the keys to their success. Soon enough, it seems to you that being an entrepreneur is not as complex as it seems: it is “enough” to find a good idea, to focus on it, to have surrounded yourself, to show your passion… The money will come in a second time!
A field experience to arouse indignation
40% of Indians do not have access to energy, 45% of the most malnourished children in the world are Indians… But having key figures, understanding an intellectual problem does not lead to commitment! A social entrepreneur launches himself after a moment of indignation, after experiencing an injustice. Through field visits, the tour elicits empathy.
I will always remember this visit to the Montessori school, in the slums of Patna, which gave free remedial classes to the children of rags… and meet at the exit, in the street, a rag-picker of 6 or 7 years, barefoot, “close in the beak”, a bag of tens of kilos of waste on the back. So much is done, but so much remains to be done. Emotion makes you move.
A move to action
There is room for immersion and action. At the beginning of January, we spend two days in a remote village in Uttar Pradesh to develop a prototype social enterprise. Teams are formed based on the needs of the region and our interests. Google sponsors the competition, and the winners will come back two months later to test their idea by launching drivers.
This exercise has an impact: it leads to the creation of a business, I can attest to that. With Jonas from the Destination Changemakers project, we are working in Delhi with Ashmeet Kapoor (Yatri 2010), founder of I Say Organic, who had the click after this exercise.
An inner journey
In the end, not all ideas will come into being. But the important thing is to have changed yourself, to know yourself better and to know how to contribute, in a way, to become an entrepreneur of one’s own life.
These 15 days will have been an inner journey to explore one’s own dreams, desires and talents, trying to cross them with the needs of society. On the first day of the adventure, a great colonel of the Indian army confided to us: “I want to congratulate you all because they are making history… of your life.”
An unforgettable experience
Because fun MakeSense, has understood this since its inception, for example.
This event will remain unforgettable because it is unlikely. Spend 15 days and 15 nights at 7 in a 6m2, turn a series of seats into improvised showers, live a New Year’s Eve at 400 in a wagon… By multiplying the emotional effect through the intensity of the experience, you will get a timeless memory. Each of us will remember this “awakening journey” all our lives and his dreams and promises of that time.
The impossible is temporary. Change actors can by their courage, creativity, perseverance and passion radically change the game in a sector. “The world no longer needs thinkers, it needs people who act,” says Anshu Gupta, founder of Goonj.
Finally, our education does not prepare us to become agents of change. Educating outdated theories in a classroom is another century. It is high time we reinvented education to make it more practical, more creative, more collaborative, more inspiring and more responsible. These exceptional social entrepreneurs made me want to start and gave me the conviction that success is not correlated with age.