Aanya Chadha, Youth Venturer, Reflects on Learning Where to Start

When I think about a year ago, when I was working alongside Rohan (co-founder DOR), we never thought of the opportunities we might get after working on a project in one village.  After that, we wanted to expand and make as much change as we could. We named our project, DOR (Hindi for thread), because it connects rural and urban societies together and works towards sustainable development. Maybe we were slightly ambitious. But earlier this month, when we heard from Ashoka about the Youth Venture Programme, a new door was opened for us. We saw it as an opportunity to learn and understand how we should actually go about working as changemakers.

Getting selected into the second cohort of the programme was a big deal for us. It was an honour to be amongst the select few who were seen as future social entrepreneurs.  Now that we were officially Youth Venturers, our first workshop awaited us in Bangalore. After a lot of convincing (pains of being a twelfth grader), I found myself on my way to three days of grasping as much knowledge as I could. 

There were so many things that we had overlooked while working last year, which came to our attention during this workshop. Till now, we never really knew the true meaning of entrepreneurship (I was even unsure of the spelling, to be honest) or the make-or-break points for a pitch, for example.

The first day and the first session conducted by Amit sir was tiring, challenging, yet very insightful. We pushed our creativity to a completely different level. I would’ve said that coming up with more than a 100 solutions/ideas within 20 minutes is impossible before this workshop. But while doing it, I surprised myself as I wrote every new idea that came to my mind. After using about 5-6 packets of sticky notes and making a mess in the boardroom of Ramada hotel, I think we all realized that there is no end to our creativity, we just needed to know where to start. The entire activity gave us insight into the methodical way of thinking about problems and coming up with innovative solutions, while keeping in mind the restriction of budget and the practicality of our plan. I’m pretty sure that all of us are going to keep these small details in mind.  

During the workshop, we began to understand how various other things come into the picture when we talk about social entrepreneurship, things that we had probably never thought of or even known about. From the concept of an elevator pitch, to how to tell a story, we all learned that the simplest and smallest things also matter. All the speakers who came shared their knowledge and experiences and conducted each session with so much passion and energy. It was absolutely amazing! Their journeys and their stories gave us insight into the harshness of the world that can only be overcome with the will and determination to do something different. Their stories have even given absolutely clueless people like me hope that someday I’ll find what I really want to do and excel at it. 

The environment around me during the three days was constantly buzzing with new ideas and a constant exchange of opinions and initiatives (even during lunch breaks). Meeting not only the speakers, but also the members of the first cohort was also an incredible experience for me. Personally, the best part about this workshop was the different people I met from various walks of life and the new friends I made who have all done a fantastic job making change. Being able to share all our experiences and our initiatives restored my faith in humanity that there are people who genuinely care. I hope to take these friendships forward and maybe someday work as a large team with the shared goal of "Everyone a Changemaker." 

I can’t possibly sum up everything that I’ve learnt over the course of these three days in a small blog that consists merely of a few words, but I know that all the different thoughts and ideas I’ve been exposed to are going to stay at the back of my mind whenever I wish to start something new in the future. Ashoka Youth Venture has been a brilliant means to bring together so many people to try and make a difference. I’ve been inspired by so many people during this workshop, and I too aspire to influence people around me to become changemakers themselves.

Interested in becoming a changemaker too? Learn more about the program and apply to be a Youth Venturer at india.ashoka.org/youthventure