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Social Entrepreneurship

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP ASSIGNMENT

SHAHEEN MISTRI

CONTENTS

1. Background

   1.1. Seed of Entrepreneurship

   1.2. Career as a social activist

2. Why I chose her

3. Top Learnings

4. References

  1. Background

Shaheen Mistri ,46, one of the most successful social entrepreneurs in India has used entrepreneurship to create a social impact in the lives of many children through her Akanksha foundation and Teach of India initiative of which she is the Chief executive officer(CEO).

  1. Seed of Entrepreneurship

She was born in a Parsi family in Mumbai. Due to her father’s transferrable job, she changed 10 schools in countries such as Greece, Lebanon, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and USA. In the USA, she went to a private high school in Connecticut. Her parents made sure that she and her brother don’t forget their Indian roots. Hence, every summer they went to Mumbai and it is here where the seed of entrepreneurship was planted. During the summers, she volunteered for visually impaired, orphans and various NGO’s. At first, she did not enjoy the trips to India but at the same time, she was struck by the massive difference between her upbringing and the children’s upbringing whom she volunteered for.

  1. Career as a Social Activist

At a very young age of 20, she started Akanksha foundation. After her first year at Tufts University, she visited Mumbai where one incident helped her shape her future choices. At a traffic light at Nariman point, few children came up to her car, begging. She said the following in one of the interviews after being asked about this incident:

I remember looking at them and asking myself at that moment, why am I going back to the US? Won’t anything I do in India be more valuable than going back home?”

She left Tufts, enrolled for a course in the University of Mumbai and decided to serve the children here in India. She begged and convinced schools to allow her to use their empty classrooms. The convincing finally paid off. In 1991, the first Akanksha centre started at Holy Name School, Colaba where she herself taught 15 children from neighbouring slums.

Akanksha foundation has now grown enormously with 21 schools and 60 centres in Mumbai serving 6,500 children. The aim of the foundation is to impart good quality education to children from low income communities to help them to lead better lives in future.

In 2008, she founded Teach for India, which is an extension of her work at Akanksha. Teach for India(TFI) is an initiative in which college students, professionals teach for two years in low income schools. She felt the need to scale up the work she was doing at Akanksha.In India, most of the class V students in government schools cannot solve a class I math problem or read English. She saw this as a huge gap which needed to be addressed through the solution of leadership and hence founded TFI. TFI is now in its ninth year has 40,000 students, 1,200 fellows, 240 staff members and 1,500 alumni.

  1. Why I chose Shaheen Mistri

The first notion that strikes after reading entrepreneurship is the act to set up a profit -making business. This is the traditional way of doing things. However, social entrepreneurship is an alternate vision where changemakers attempt to meet pressing needs in society in various fields such as education, health etc.

Mistri is one of the most inspiring personalities who have the alternate vision. She started volunteering since the age of 12 and grew up to realise the joy she experiences when she is around children.

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