The first of its kind, Coffee & Conversations on Social Entrepreneurship in partnership with Ashoka brought together the community of changemakers under one roof on Thursday, March 30, 2017 in New Delhi.
The special guests of the evening included Mr. Yashveer Singh, Director, Ashoka’s Youth Venture and Mr. Ajit Singh, Founder of Anant Learning and Development Pvt. Ltd. and an Ashoka Fellow. Other guests included Mr. Sanjeev Chaturvedi of British Council; Mr. Manu Singh, Chairperson, Sarva Dharma Samvaad; Mr. Abel Caine, Head of Youth and Communications, UNESCO MGIEP; Mr. Gaurav Pandey, Head of Corporate Relations, Think Through Consulting; Mr. Yatin Thakur, Founder, CoWorkIn and Startup India, Mr. Deepak Hariharan, Founder, MentorYes, Mr. Deepak Goel, Founder, Karma Circles, Ms. Deeksha Gehlot, Independent Legal Advisor; Ms. Nina Kler, Blogger; Ms. Harshita from UnLtd Delhi, Mr. Omang Agarwal and Ms. Saumya Co-Founders, Youth For Peace Association; to just name a few.
We started off with an initial networking session where we, the young lot, just grabbed the opportunity to learn about the groundbreaking work being done in the development sector. One could witness inspiration oozing out of conversations all around.Most of the young lot was relishing the opportunity to connect and gain valuable insights around social entrepreneurship.
Yashveer Singh and Ajit Singh then just broke into a healthy discussion with a group after talking about their journeys and Ashoka’s vision for social entrepreneurship.
Ajit Singh, an Ashoka Fellow, from the outset, emphatically talked about the struggles of being a social entrepreneur.
Putting the light on the difficulties he had in his personal life he made it clear that one should be ready to lose out on friends or even family.
Starting his journey as a microbiologist to joining the army next he learnt a lot from working in diverse environments at various startups. He mentioned that throughout his journey he kept evolving and pivoting to sustain and survive which is characteristic of startups.
After a few projects starting with Bihar then Orrisa he finally managed to lay hands on a paid project which slowly paved way for funder to come in for support and sustainence of the organisation. The application based solution was one of the major turning points in the journey full of trials and tribulations.
Also, solving the primary problem of livelihoods this has proved to be a long race and every day is a new challenge. The Ashoka Fellowship was the game changer as it provided means to a wider and global network of people in the space.
The poignant recollection by Ajit Singh left us asking for more.
To top it all off, Yashveer touched upon implementing systemic and frame changes as final stages to being successful social entrepreneurs. Frame change being when the problem becomes everyone’s problem. He gave an overview of the initiatives under Ashoka Youth Venture programme which gave the young audience much to mull over.
It wasn’t just an event, but an experience that would inspire us for long and that marks the beginning of many such events in the future.
You can check out few glimpses from the event on our Facebook Album.
Hope to have many such Coffee& Conversations event in the near future!
– Swastic Yaduvanshi
Director, MASH Project