This social entrepreneur helps provide education to underprivileged girls across five cities

12th Sep 2016
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“I don’t follow my gut as much as let my gut punch out a path.” – Adrianna Tan

Entrepreneur. Traveller. Writer. Photographer. Adrianna Tan decided to combine all her professional talents and create business history in Asia. A long-time champion for gender equality, LGBT rights and empowerment for the underprivileged, Adrianna heads three organisations, two of which are successful business ventures, and the third helps educate underprivileged girls in India.

Adrianna-Tan

A traveller by heart, Adrianna has backpacked her way through 120 cities in the past five years, observing and learning the economic and social structures of most. Claiming not to fall into a particular category, her social entrepreneurship has won her international acclaim.

The Gyanada Foundation is an educational non-profit that she founded in 2013. On her several visits to India, Adrianna understood the missed opportunities of girls belonging to most rural sections of the country and the need for their empowerment. Thus, she launched the foundation with the intention of granting basic education and opportunities to these girls.

Operating across five cities in India, the organisation grants a bond-free scholarship to hundreds of girls in these cities. The scholarship offers them the chance to attend low-cost private schools in their communities. The organisation also offers training in English and Computer Skills to all its students.

Headquartered in Mumbai, Gyanada has partnerships with the Centre For Civil Society, Calcutta Rescue, HF, Pratigya and Salaam Baalak Trust. Currently, it has supported the education of 150 girls – a manageable number considering it pledges to renew each one’s scholarship as long as the student is still enrolled in its list. It encourages the girls to complete their education all the way till the 12th standard, even though some do drop out after completing their 10th due to family pressures.

“In India, even though there is universal enrolment for primary school kids, at about the age of 12, many girls drop out of school, unfortunately. Gyanada steps in and gives them a full scholarship so their parents don’t have to worry about the financial aspects. Our goal is to remove the disincentive a lot of families might have with regard to keeping their daughters in school. Obviously, there are other issues at play which cannot be fully solved, but this is the first step, and we are working very hard at it,” said Adrianna in an interview with High Net Worth.

Besides providing financial assistance, the scholarship also covers uniforms, admissions and stationery in certain cities. On some occasions, the organisation also extends additional support for other academic-related requirements on a case-by-case basis to the families. The foundation has done so well that it won the Public Service Award, including a $10,000 grant, from Asia Society’s Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative.

Other than The Gyanada Foundation, Adrianna is also the acting CEO and Founder of Wobe and Culture Kitchen. The idea for Wobe came from her association with The Gyanada Foundation when one of the young girls told her that her father had stopped hitting her mother when she started earning several rupees a day.

“I was struck by how helping underprivileged women to start their micro-business can bring about real social impact on the domestic level,” she stated. Thus, she launched the organisation that aims to empower the underserved classes in Indonesia by allowing them to sell digital goods, opening up a whole new set of financial opportunities for its employers and mandates.

As for Culture Kitchen, it was her lifelong dream to channelise her love for food into a successful venture. Culture Kitchen provides cross-cultural potlucks of sorts, where traditional dishes are served and local Singaporeans and migrant workers can meet and interact with each other.

“I decided I wanted to create moments for people across different ethnicities and cultures, and class, to meet and eat with each other,” Adrianna stated in an interview with Upworthy.

In all her projects, Adrianna has had the opportunity to interact with people from all stages of the economy, and through these meetings she has come to realise the flagrant disproportion of wealth, education and social positioning among men and women alike. Thus, she has embarked on the path of social entrepreneurship to try and empower these disadvantaged classes and help change lives, one person at a time.

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