How a village boy went from failing in grade 2 twice to Canada’s Best School and becoming the CEO of a social Startup and Public speaker.
I grew up in a small village of Chhangla with population of 1500 in the state of Punjab in Hoshiarpur. I have lived there till 18 years until I move to Canada to start post-secondary education. I remember how it felt like to grow up in a village with many things to do outdoor. I used to go out for cycling in the evening with my friends and roam around other villages. I had a lot of fun during my childhood but I would say, I was very poor with academics and I failed “TWICE” in grade 2. I know it sounds unrealistic but that’s how I used to be like with zero knowledge of basic math’s and English. My mom was really pissed about my condition so she changed my school from St. Paul’s convent to a regular school as she was under the impression that I might have inferiority complex due to higher standards of the school. I also remember that my mom took me to one of my Aunt’s for counseling that is a professional psychologist and explained my situation and it was my aunt who advised her to change my school.
After changing my school, I started working hard and learning basic math and English in grade 3. I remember how I struggled with cramming alphabets of English and making full sentences. I even use to cram the whole essays and work late nights in just grade 3 and 4. No one could ever imagine that a person can work that hard in just grade 3 or 4 and hence will eventually make it to Canada’ Best School. From that day onward I never looked back and kept working hard which lead me to get to University of Waterloo in Canada. Now I am proud graduate from a prestigious University and my mom still can’t believe that I have graduated. Nowadays I am running my social startup (Engineers for Hope) as a CEO from an Award winning incubator at Accelerator Centre, Waterloo, Ontario and also a serial motivational speaker during conferences, events and high schools which eventually lead me to the platform of world renowned TED talk. I am all set to give my first TED talk ever in less than 2months from now. I started a social startup because I call myself as the face/ambassador of my own people and have lived in a developing country for almost 18years of my life (witnessed the situation of people living below poverty line) and hence strongly believes that I have the potential to make a purposeful impact in the lives of my own people.
Our Results and future Project:
We have successfully executed our first humanitarian project overseas in Bangladesh on water and sanitation and now moving to India with the next project, which is all scheduled to start in the next year. We will be focusing on water, sanitation along with the accessibility to primary education as the quality of the education has been degraded in the rural areas. According to one survey conducted by Pratham, which surveyed 561 government schools with primary education in Punjab, found that only 40% of grade 3 children and 65% of grade 5 children are able to read text. Almost 22% percent of class 5 kids and 30% of class 4 kids were not able to do grade 2 subtractions. These numbers are really high which needs to be addressed and we will focus on improving the quality of teaching though various techniques. In order to improve the quality of education in India, we need help from a diverse group of people from local NGO’s, government bodies, corporate companies to the really smart people who dare to think out of box and bring solutions to the real people in real life.
Achievements and Closing:
In addition to this I was also the Engineering Ambassador of United Nation’s HeForShe movement and advocated women empowerment through guest lecture series in the leadership, Academic and startup world. I have also become the first South Asian in the history of University of Waterloo to receive Sandford Fleming Foundation’s Leadership Award.
I know it’s hard to imagine all these things but I have personally witnessed them and strongly believe that a person with conviction, hard work and sincerity can achieve many things irrespective of what others say about you. You have to believe in yourself and have a purposeful vision to make a change in the society and built businesses upon that.
Nirbhay H. Singh
CEO, Engineers for Hope
University of Waterloo, Alumni
#SustainableStartup ,“Built by locals, maintained by locals”, Award winning Incubator, #VillageBoy, “Twice failure”, #DevelopingCountry #UnitedNations, #HeforShe, #WomenEmpowerment #WaterSanitation #Education #TEDtalk #PurposefulImpact #SocialInnovation
Useful links and media coverage
Resource link for the statistics: