Back Row (Left to right): Utkarsh Joshi, Awadh Poddar, Aakash Tayal, Jinay Savla, Rahul Popawala
Front row (Left to right): Ayesha Alam, Shruti Agarwal, Shreya Jain, Neha Agarwalla, Adrienne White, Emilie Nielsen, Sarva Damani

Entrepreneurial students transfer skills to the people of Mithapur in India

Student members of the Exeter Enactus group (formerly SIFE), travelled to India with the hope of making a real difference to the lives of residents in Mithapur, a village in Gujurat.
Led by Neha Agarwalla and Sarva Damani, the group of 14 Business School students had already identified that there was an opportunity to help a large group of villagers with the skills and resources to create their own, sustainable businesses.

The team managed to raise £3,800 and received an additional £3,000 grant from the Business School to help provide seed corn funding and other resources to the Indian entrepreneurs.

Neha Agarwalla explains: “From my background I knew that Gujarati people are by nature very enterprising but are hampered by lack of finances and experience. The Enactus organisation is all about using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform people’s lives, and I knew that we could make a real impact in this village.”

Over a two week period, the team worked with 72 people in a variety of ways; they conducted confidence building and ideas generation sessions, talked them through the basic principles of finance, marketing and sales and gave them general business advice.

This culminated in a total of 16 business ideas being presented to the UK team. These ranged from setting up a welding shop to button making and fast food businesses. 15 proposals made it through and each of them received funding to help set them up.

A local businessman, Mr. H. V. Kamani commented: “I was really surprised how much progress was made in such a short space of time. The project has been a great achievement and will make a long lasting difference to the village.”

Neha is planning a follow up visit to the village over Christmas to check the progress of the new ventures. She concludes: “The money we raised both from the Business School and from donors in India has enabled us to achieve a fantastic result. It was a powerful learning experience for the whole team and one which we’ll never forget.”

Date: 22 December 2012