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Aina Gaur’s journey from a cushy job in the States to working with a social enterprise in India

Jubin Mehta
23rd Apr 2013
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Villgro has opened applications for the 6th edition of its fellowship program.


Aina Gaur

Aina Gaur was born and brought up in India but she moved to the US owing to her studies and had been there for over a decade. Studying at The University of Texas at Austin and the Red McCombs School of Business, she took up finance as a career. She went on to work with the likes of Ernst & Young but almost a decade down the line, she felt the urge to do something more, something that creates more of a social impact.Aina started out looking for opportunities and found a promising one in Villgro’s Social Fellowship Program. This program takes aspiring social entrepreneurs through a one year stint at social enterprises in India and gives them a platform from where they can go on to do more in the social space. Aina was chosen after a rigorous application procedure and she moved to India in September 2012. She got selected for the fellowship earlier in the year and had quit her job in July.

The first month is dedicated to bring the fellows up to date with the program and all the 8 fellows spent a month in Chennai at the Villgro office. This acclimatization month included visits to rural villages, meetings with successful social enterprises and networking rounds. And this is where Aina met Sustain Tech– a 3-year-old company that distributes their PYRO-an environment friendly fuel-efficient commercial cook stove.

Finding a match in ideology, Aina took up the financial side of the business and is currently responsible for all the activities of Sustain Tech on the financial side. Sustain Tech has operations predominantly in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka with its headquarters in Madurai. The manufacturing is outsourced but Sustain Tech takes the complete responsibility of distribution.

“I’ve been with the company for more than 7 months now and the experience has been phenomenal,” shares Aina. She had apprehensions when she took the decision but Villgro assuaged all of them once she came here. Taking care of all the needs of the fellows with respect to accommodation, travel and food, Villgro ensures that the fellows have an easy transition.

“60-70% of the Villgro fellows (5 batches finished till now) end up staying back in the same field and pursue their careers in India. I hope to do the same,” says Aina. Each of the fellow also has a couple for mentors to guide them on the way and act as sources of inspiration. “On a whole, the Villgro experience has been really positive for me and it has given me a whole new perspective to life,” concludes Aina.

If you want to apply to become a Villgro Fellow, apply here.

Disclaimer: YourStory is a partner for the Villgro Fellowship Program.

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