By Unnati Narang:
“Nothing ever becomes real ’til it is experienced.” — John Keats
For much of India’s youth, entrepreneurship is a glamorous idea, one that they would happily risk a “settled” job for. They are also the generation that has seen online ventures take off like never before, led by some 20-year olds from their garages or shacks.
But entrepreneurship is a very different when seen up close than what it is from a distance. They say that only a fool learns from his own mistakes; the wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Jagriti Yatra, a journey of entrepreneurship, helps you do just that. It introduces you to the “wise people” out there, the role models working at the grassroots of India in various cities for various causes, relentlessly in pursuit of an entrepreneurial ambition.
The Jagriti Yatra — organized by the Jagriti Sewa Sansthan — a not-for-profit organization, is an annual train journey that takes hundreds of India’s highly motivated youth, especially those from small towns and villages, on a 15-day long, 8,000 kilometer national odyssey to meet inspiring role models who are transforming India. At its core, the Yatra is all about ‘Building India through Enterprise’ by enabling the youth of India — primarily from smaller towns and villages.
Jagriti Yatra hires a train with 18 bogies from the Indian railways and goes around the country visiting 12 locations. At each location, the Yatris get to meet successful social and business entrepreneurs. Jagriti’s 450 Yatris, over 2,600 alumni, and others who watch the Yatra unfold across the country are instrumental in redefining and creating a new India — one that moves beyond “protest” to “building”.
Albeit a diverse group — with 40 percent women, and about 60 percent candidates from tier 2 and 3 towns — it is a group united by the spirit of enterprise. On the train, these 450 youngsters are grouped into smaller cohorts for cohort-specific discussions and activities.
Yatra Nurtures Entrepreneurship among Youth
Over the last 6 years of the Jagriti Yatra, more than 300 Yatra alumni have become entrepreneurs. What differentiates them is a more informed choice; these are individuals who have experienced entrepreneurship through this collective journey before carving out their own.
Meet Kalyani Khodke, a 2008 Yatri and founder of Range Design Studio. After having worked at Tata Motors for 3 years and one year after the Yatra, Kalyani founded her venture for innovative product design and management. One of her flagship products is an electric toy car that children can drive. “Our focus now is to build a completely indigenous product with high quality and safety standards,” she says. Or meet Dr. Prahalathan, a 2010 Yatri. Apart from his regular profession — a consulting Ophthalmologist at a leading eye hospital in Chennai — he is the co-founder of Bhumi, one of India’s largest independent youth volunteer non-profit organizations. Bhumi offers education to underprivileged children.
More than 40% are Women Yatris
There’s no reason for almost half our country to remain bereft of the opportunity to plunge into a journey of entrepreneurship. Women, central to India’s growth story, form a crucial part of the yatra too. The past Yatras have had 40% women candidates on the train. Other than this, it has women volunteers and team members on the train as well. Male and female Yatris are housed in separate bogies. A special female doctor and women security guards are also onboard for assistance.
Safety for women is of prime importance. In the words of a Yatri, Prayaga Hoge, who participated in the 2008 Yatra, “As a woman participant, at no time did I feel unsafe or threatened. It is incredible that after being together on the train for just 1-2 days such a spirit of camaraderie develops that everyone looks out for each other and is willing to go out of their way to help each other.” Jagriti Sewa Sansthan can connect potential female Yatris and/or their parents with parents of past female Yatris too.
Inspired to Act? Next Steps
Each year, Jagriti Yatra invites applications from thousands of youth between the ages 20 and 27. Through a rigorous process of identifying entrepreneurial aptitude and experience through a written application and interviews, 450 candidates are shortlisted to take this remarkable journey.
Interested candidates register on the website and this gives them access to the application form. The candidates fill in an application form which has a set of questions. The responses to these questions are evaluated by an eminent and highly experienced panel. Their reviews finally decide the selection. Sponsorships are also available for candidates who are deserving but cannot bear the expenses of the journey. Registrations for Jagriti Yatra 2014 have already begun.
Travel, exposure, collaboration, and discussions with role models — these are only a few pieces of what the Yatra truly culminates into: Action at the grassroots. After each Yatra, there is a systematic impact study that tracks the Yatris and their impact-activities. The Yatra team also connects them with experts and mentors to offer resources for business planning and fundraising. This is done about a month after the Yatra through a program called “Biz Gyan Tree”. This session takes place at the place of origin of the Yatra — Deoria, literally under a Banyan Tree that represents the growth and spread of the impact of young Yatris. In light of these initiatives, it is not going to be surprising then to see Jagriti Yatra reach its goal of creating a million entrepreneurs by 2020.
Apply now! Last date for registration: 30th October’ 2014
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