A One of a Kind Journey: Social Entrepreneurship Yatra
E-Cell, Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, is an archetype to foster budding social and business entrepreneurs. It facilitates an ecosystem for venture creation by nurturing entrepreneurial skills, management tools, and social perspective in students. The student body hosts multiple workshops, speaker sessions, and competitions throughout the year. One such event of the E-Cell, TISS is SE Yatra or Social Entrepreneurial Yatra.
The yatra is unique with its mission to promote social entrepreneurs and spread the word about social entrepreneurship. One can say that it is an entrepreneurial journey in a day conceptualized to bring the social entrepreneurial fraternity of students, scholars, practitioners and enthusiasts together in a bus ride to acclaimed social enterprises in and around Mumbai. The third chapter of SE Yatra was organized on August 11, 2019. The event comprised of speakers and visits to enterprises from domains such as agriculture, water and waste management, healthcare and education.
The event started with a session with Mr. Santosh Phad, founder of ThinkSharp Foundation. The foundation is working on bridging the gap between the rural and urban Indian education and have come up with an interesting concept of Study Malls. Mr. Phad shared his entrepreneurial journey and motivated the budding entrepreneurs to follow their passions. The session was followed by an interesting panel discussion on "Social Impact with Technology". The panelists included Ms. Rajul Patkar, co-founder of SoilSens, a venture based on providing optimized irrigation solutions for agriculture. She was accompanied by Mr. Asim Bhalerao, co-founder of Fluid Robotics, working on waste water management using Robotics & AI, and Mr. Ankit, founder of Greenway Appliances, the largest clean cookstove company of India.
The discussion brought to the forefront the challenges faced in taking the technologies to the community both in terms of it's acceptance and the distribution mechanism. The panelists suggested the audience that they should not be afraid of using technology and associated competition but should take the route of adequate protection and constant innovation to stay relevant in the business. For the last session, the audience was made to put on their thinking caps by Mr. Danish Aga, co-founder of Sky Education. Mr. Aga discussed urged the budding entrepreneurs to build on their creativity for problem solving. SkyEducation is also working with school and college students on similar Life Skill Education
This year two organizations were visited, first one being Sampurn(e)arth. It is founded by Mr. Debartha Banerjee, Mr. Ritvik Rao and Mr. Jayant N. The founders are alumni of the Social Entrepreneurship course at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and gave a good insight on how the entrepreneurial course and exposure as a student helped them shape their venture today. The organization works on converting household waste into biogas, compost, etc. Two of their plants, one within the TISS Campus and the other in Bandra, were visited during the Yatra. The participants got an opportunity to interact with stakeholders and the community working with them giving them an understanding of how social enterprises create an impact on the lives of people.
The second visit was to Ziqitza Healthcare Pvt Ltd at their Head Office in Dadar. The organization provides emergency ambulance services in Mumbai under the famous helpline no 1298. It also runs the state ambulance service in various states of the country in a PPP Model under the helpline no 108. The participants interacted with the Co-Founder & CFO, Mr. Manish Sacheti along with his team. The organization is an exemplary case of a sustainable social enterprise functional for the past 14 years. The operations and revenue models were discussed in detail during the interactions and the participants also shared their experiences of using the ambulance services of Ziqitza at various points.
The SE Yatra 3.0 concluded with everyone returning back to the institute, and having a discussion on learnings and reflections. Students from various colleges across Mumbai and Pune had come, and it was a great experience for them. Everyone has their own moments and learnings to recall, but as one of the participants said, “I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Yatra… The morning sessions were insightful, but the most exciting for me were the visits… interaction with rag picker community, and knowing about Ziqitza…” The E-Cell team at Tata Institute of Social Sciences is now preparing to host the annual biggest social entrepreneurial challenge ‘iPreneur’ in December.