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Young Social Entrepreneurs, Here’s The Chance To Amplify Your Goals

The adoption of Sustainable Development Goals: Agenda 2030 has globally generated momentum in working towards inclusive development for a sustainable tomorrow.  Across the spectrum, extending from the public to the private sector, conversations centered on the 5Ps – people, prosperity, peace, partnership and planet that form the foundations of the 17 Goals are in focus to create impact.

These goals include 169 defined targets cutting across sectors to achieve zero poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy, decent work and economic growth; among others.

An important part of this global vision is the role of youth for realization of these goals.  An UNDP report in 2017, Youth as Partners for the Implementation of the SDGs, estimated that over one third of the 169 SDG targets highlight the role of young people and the importance of their empowerment, participation, and well-being. 20 targets across six SDGs are strongly focused on youth: Zero Hunger, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Reduced Inequalities, and Climate Action.  Further, the YouthSpeak global survey of 180,000 young people showed 68% believe the world will be a better place by 2030.

With changing aspirations, young people are optimistic and increasingly willing to come forward and contribute to social transformation.  Young minds in governance, entrepreneurship, investing circles, corporate world understand the need to proactively engage and involve themselves with the accomplishment of this ambitious agenda. A recent report by Ernst and Young,”Sustainable investing – the millennial investor”, suggests that the demand for sustainable investments is being driven, in part, by millennials who prefer to invest in alignment with personal values. At the same time, responsible global citizenship has extended into business solutions that are aimed at tackling development challenges.

Social entrepreneurship among the youth is also seeing a powerful positive trend.  Current demographic trends, coupled with the challenge of unemployment in the traditional job market, are pushing the youth to explore alternative avenues and tap into their entrepreneurial skills.  There is a renewed commitment to influence impact and a willingness to take risks. Harnessing this energy, young entrepreneurs are looking to balance and optimize the profit and purpose equation.

Several initiatives globally, and in India are encouraging young minds to ideate and innovate.  Business federations, large corporations, accelerators, incubators, management schools and governments are some key stakeholders in this ecosystem, who through their multiple programs are pushing for cutting edge business solutions.  The NITI Ayog’s Atal Tinkering Labs, Villgro’s iPitch, TATA Social Enterprise challenge are some notable ones to name a few. State governments across the country are also encouraging innovation with dedicated support to such entrepreneurs.

Whether it is competitions, mentorship programs, or awards – the recognition that there is a need to reinvent the wheel by endorsing innovative thinking is widely accepted.  It is at the heart of all such initiatives that celebrate and support businesses contributing to driving social change.

While in recent years, there has been an enormous upsurge in using business to create social impact, there also remain many stories of failed attempts.  This also needs to be addressed. It necessitates a deepening of the discourse around youth entrepreneurship to understand what can be done to make these ideas, innovations and solutions sustainable and viable. It is imperative to approach the problem holistically, and see to it that the stories of impact are not short term successes riding the wave.  An ecosystem facilitating good mentorship, upskilling, collateral specialized support services is fundamental to sustainable business building. It is only through such sustainability that long lasting impact is created that shall eventually lead to the accomplishment of the 17 SDG Goals set out.

The Sankalp Global Summit,  as one of India’s largest inclusive development and impact investing platforms, recognizes that the ecosystem approach lies at the core of celebrating entrepreneurship. It aims to build consensus and facilitate dialogue with some of the most relevant stakeholders for solving emerging challenges across high impact sectors.

The Sankalp Awards, as a part of the Summit convening seeks to support, engage, and recognize high potential enterprises tackling development challenges. The program is designed to support emerging social enterprises by strengthening their business strategies, providing fund raising opportunities and access to a global network of  investors

Established as one of India’s most prestigious social enterprise awards, since 2009, Sankalp Awards has recognized more than 1500 social enterprises, facilitated 500 + mentoring connections and raised more than USD $250 million equity investment.

Currently applications are open for the Sankalp Awards 2018 that will be hosted at the Sankalp Global Summit. For details on the awards, please click here.

Written by Trina Roy. Trina is an Associate at Intellecap Advisory Limited.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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