What was the nonprofit that you volunteered with and what is its mission?
The non-profit that I served is called the Jagriti Sewa Sansthan. It conducts an incredibly innovative and unique programme called the Jagriti Yatra (meaning “a journey of awakening”) whose mission is to awaken the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst youth and promote nation building through enterprise.
The participants on this journey include 400 youth who are screened and selected on the basis of their entrepreneurial inclinations and passion for making a difference to society. These youth are then taken on a train that traverses 9,000 Kms over 18 days, visiting 12 locations across India where they are exposed to real heroes who have developed unique solutions to India’s socio-economic challenges.
A 90-second video created by a foreign participant last year captures the journey beautifully.
Who in the community benefited from your Service Learning project?
The programme is meant to facilitate discussion, debate and deeper reflection on the power of enterprise in developing society. The genuine energy and optimism of the yatra is effective in catalyzing a personal transformation in the participant based on the learning’s from this experience. These participants also get access to a vast network of like-minded youth who want to find creative solutions to India’s burning issues. Interestingly, this event also impacts the role models visited who feel greatly appreciated and motivated by their sharing of experiences and insights.
What was your role?
My role in this journey was of a facilitator. As a slightly older and experienced person, I was responsible for guiding a team of participants through the implementation of the program. This included helping my team make presentations, form business plans, and participate in a wide range of other activities ranging from art sessions to personal development and leadership training.
What surprised you about the experience?
I was surprised by the efficiency and discipline with which 450 participants could be organized to maintain discipline in an event that is so complex to manage. The forces of engagement and interaction amongst the participants override the physical and emotional stresses of this journey. There were many examples of youth who had sacrificed their time and effort for social causes, others who had taken risks in starting enterprises early in life. I was pleasantly surprised that I could enjoy sharing space with 450 people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds for 15 days, eat, bathe, sleep and interact as bogeys moved from side to side on a moving train.
What was a key learning?
A key learning from this experience from myself was that social enterprises should not necessarily be thought of as non-profit. For profit enterprises with performance measured by social impact achieved need to be promoted. Innovations in models of earning revenue can help a social enterprise achieve long-term sustainability.
Where’s the next opportunity to serve and learn with the nonprofit?
The Jagriti Yatra is conducted annually. Every year it receives over 3,000 applications (17,000 registrations) from individuals eligible to be yatri's or facilitators: a number steadily on the rise. There are over 40% women on average and this year the number of international participants was over 50 and represented 20 different countries from all the major continents. Also, previous year’s participants are encouraged to volunteer with the organizers as part of the Engine Room Club and co-manage the programme.
In addition to the yatra, the JSS is developing an enterprise network and a knowledge platform that it will use to assist young entrepreneurs in implementing their enterprise solutions across verticals such as healthcare, education, agriculture and information & communication technology, especially where such enterprises will affect communities in rural and semi-urban communities.
How has the Service Learning Program impacted you and your fellow co-workers in the VMware India offices?
The VMware Service Learning Program gave me an opportunity to explore my country, partner with likeminded people, and learn how to identify problems while creating innovative and effective solutions. I am now equipped with various techniques to deal with complex issues at an enterprise level and empower my community to take on the world. VMware provides a strong network that supports us in making a difference in society and impact millions of people today and everyday. My colleagues and I are moved with the possibilities that we see around ourselves and are excited to participate by facilitating such events which can help the nation grow.
Vishal Vachani - Sr. Business Systems Analyst
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