Students, Leading the change for Rural India Towards a Better Future

In our endeavor of providing a platform for promoting Individuals and Businesses working towards creating new opportunities for the Base of the Economic Pyramid in India, we are reaching out to leading institutions in the country to assess the action on the ground.

Paritosh Sharma, in conversation with Prateik Pothuneedi- CEL President, BITS Pilani explores how students are leading the thought towards a new future for the Rural India.

Q. How do you see students’ interest towards the Rural India and the BoP?

A. I certainly see that the students are more interested in social entrepreneurship, beyond just starting a business and earning money, they are looking to create a lasting impact on the society and right now one of the most popular trends on campus is creating “for profit” social ventures for which we have the RED (read: Rural Entrepreneurship Development).

Q. There are various interesting ideas shared by the RED in your CEL newsletter, how are the students motivated to come up with such ideas?

A. We sit, we brainstorm ideas, which go through a feasibility analysis. Once done, we choose one and work on developing the same further.

Q. What measures are you taking to make sure that more students get involved?

A. Students are certainly very socially conscious and with us, the advantage is that we are based in very much a rural area. There are also quite a few social organisations on campus eg: nirman, National service scheme, which have a large followership. We collaborate with them, with regards to RED.

Q. Raising money, what have been the challenges faced?

A. The biggest challenge for us always is raising money. As in case our Bio-Gas project, we did an exhaustive analysis and had the plans ready, but where it did not pick up, was we were trying to raise capital from the villagers themselves. Even with the established organisations, it takes a lot of time to convince them to invest into such a proposition.

Q. Share with us, one crucial learning which you have received overtime?

A. One of the most crucial things we have learnt overtime, is trust. To make the villagers understand something, talk to them etc takes a lot of trust building. Prateik also shares an interesting byte: You have to have a woman in your group while going to these villages, as you are not allowed to talk to the females in these villages directly as a man.

Q. Talking about innovation, what have been the most interesting ideas by students till date?

A. At one point of time we were contemplating dust-less chalk and also did mushroom farming for sometime, which took a hit due to erratic water supply in the area.

Q. As the President CEL, what are your expectations from the external world?

A. Well, raising funds is surely one thing, other than that we require platforms to showcase to the world our capability and what we can deliver. This will also go a long way in creating the trust with our prospective investors. Mentors are the third expectation, we require their support towards learning from their failures and successes.

Q. What more can we see from BITS Pilani CEL in the coming months?

A. We have our annual tech festival coming up and also I personally invite you to TEDx which we are holding for the first time, with highly interesting stories in March this year.

Interacting with young change-makers is always interesting. We look forward to more such engaging and fresh perspectives.

We also invite you to be a change-maker and SUBMIT your innovation to the Global Energy Challenge creating opportunities for cheap and sustainable energy for the Base of the Economic Pyramid in India. You can also NOMINATE a solver and get a chance to win $3000

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