Category Archives: Schools

Why you need to go beyond the numbers to view rural poverty

In the past decade, much progress has been made in India and people have been justifiably proud of the improving economic situation. While most observers point to the top line numbers that show the number of people living below the “poverty line” has been consistently decreasing, by focusing on just these aseptic numbers, they fail to understand and capture the continuing anguish in the rural countryside. Continue reading

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A visit to the Agastya Center in Kuppam

Last year I had written an article about an interesting organization, Agastya, that was transforming rural education in India by bringing a fresh new approach to teaching and introducing science and technology concepts to parts of the country that are typically ignored. Since then I was fortunate to visit Agastya founder Ramji Raghavan in Bangalore and accompany him to their Agastya Center in Kuppam.

The Agastya center is strategically positioned on 170 acres of rolling hills with panoramic views of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Each day a small flotilla of buses ferry hundreds of kids from neighboring schools to attend a day long series of sessions with Agastya teachers. The center has several discovery centers rooms each dedicated to a subject – biology chemistry and so on. Eager teachers encourage the students to explore, examine and investigate the scientific phenomena being discussed through hands on experiments. Continue reading

Agastya – transforming education in India

I had the chance to visit Agastya’s operations in Hubli earlier this year. Agastya is a NGO based in India that is hoping to transform the educational system by making it more interactive, experimental and interesting for children. Recently Ramji Raghavan, Agastya’s founder visited Boston and I had occasion to meet and hear him speak passionately about why he started Agastya after a career in banking. It was wonderful to hear and see some of the videos he brought along about the great progress and impact that the organization is having.

I wrote a piece about it in Lokvani which I am reproducing below .  You can also see it at Lokvani. I will post the pictures I took a little later. Continue reading

Building a Sustainable Food Supply

Here is the final track description for the upcoming ForSE 2008: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs on October 10th at Boston University.

Building a Sustainable Food Supply

Today’s attention grabbing headlines increasingly focus on the high price of oil, the availability of water and the spiraling cost of food. Governments, business and nonprofit organizations around the world have responded to these challenges with programs or policies designed to help farmers grow more food using less resources, grow food closer to where it will be consumed and provide a better economic outcome for farmers. Current solutions range from new business models connecting small farmers as suppliers of multinational food corporations to teaching communities low impact, high yield farming techniques. However, the move toward a sustainable food supply is only beginning and provides an opportunity to explore resource constrained solutions.

Topics to be addressed in this session include: increasing yield from existing acreage, solving market access barriers facing small farmers, reducing the resources and environmental impact required to produce food, and resolving distribution problems with locally grown food in the U.S. and globally.

Sustainable Non-profits and Engaging Young Entrepreneurs

Here are a couple of more track descriptions for the upcoming ForSE 2008: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs on October 10th at Boston University.

Sustainable Ventures for Non-Profits

In decades past, many non-profits have achieved only temporary success and limited scale due to dependence on grants and donations. A new breed of ventures have begun innovating revenue models to build greater capacity and sustain operations. These approaches leverage the power of markets to meet social needs. Whether they’re building a socially responsible brand of clothing, providing renewable energy solutions, or bringing banking to the poor, these organizations have discovered the sustainable power of partnering with their customers.

Topics to be addressed in this session include: developing an earned income model, identifying market needs, measuring success, the power of scale, and balancing competing interests.

Cultivating a Generation – Engaging Young Entrepreneurs

A 2007 Harris survey shows 4 in 10 young people between the ages of 8 and 21 want to start their own business. Creative skill development and entrepreneurial experiences provide young people with opportunities to discover their talents and passions, believe in themselves and empower them to create their own futures. This track will explore educational programs focused on engaging young people in real world entrepreneurial experiences that launch them on a path toward building new businesses that create jobs, serve their community and have a positive impact on the world around them.