Annual Independence Day Conclave – 2016

A hall swarming with more than 400 women, flashing smart phones and tablets, and capturing everything that is going on the stage. A Yatri entrepreneur who has built her business to over 2 Crore revenue, sharing her journey of enterprise from a small village in Maharashtra. Laying the foundation for a world-class Enterprise Centre that aims to cater to a 70-million strong region. A humble beginning but positive ambition to ‘build India through enterprise’.

All of this was not happening in Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. But in a Tier 3 district of ‘Middle India’ – Deoria in Purvanchal – where Jagriti is building an enterprise ecosystem. And the occasion was the 8th edition of Jagriti Annual Independence Day Weekend Conclave.

The first day of the Conclave, 13th August, saw Internet Saathis – a cadre of digitally trained and equipped women who will train 3.4 million rural women across 7 districts of Purvanchal – constituting a majority of the 700-strong audience. The day was themed around ‘women empowerment through enterprise’. The day started with a speech where I reminded and challenged the citizens of Purvanchal of our duty to participate in the re-building of Purvanchal. I invoked the spirit of Mangal Pandey who hails from this revolutionary area. You can read the speech here. The Jagriti Enterprise Centre – Purvanchal’s flagstone was unveiled by our esteemed guests. Through this Centre, Jagriti aims to generate 40,000 local employment opportunities and inject more than 600 crores in the local ecosystem by incubating 2400 enterprises over a 7 year period.

Vanita Viswanath, advisory board member of Jagriti and former CEO of Udyogini, brought out the challenges of women entrepreneurship in the Tier 2 & 3 districts of the country through a panel discussion.  Panelists included Pooja Sahi, a Deoria resident and founder of Deoria Designs; Savita Mundhe, founder of Rajlakshmi Foods based in Vadali of Maharashtra and a Yatri; and Vrundan Bawankar, manager at Pawan Public School in Nagpur and a Yatri. Indrajit Shaw and Suvarna from Jagriti team presented the Internet Saathi program to the audience and invited few Saahis to share their experience. The sight of confident and passionate women with smartphones, sharing their experiences before a brimming hall made us realise that we are on the brink of something path-breaking. The opportunity to change the lives of rural women through Internet Saathi program is unprecedented. And Jagriti is delighted to be at the forefront of this revolution in Purvanchal; thanks to our partners – Google and Tata Trusts. Farhan Akhtar’s song ‘Choo le aasmaan’, which is now the theme song for Internet Saathi, concluded the session on an energetic note.

The second day, 14th August, was marked with informative sessions for the local small and medium entrepreneurs. Moderated by Ashutosh Kumar, Executive Director of JEC-P the first panel discussion dived into the ‘challenges, insights and perspectives on regional incubation’. The panelists were Dr. Sunil Shukla, Director of Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI); Prof. Satyajit Majumdar, Chairperson for the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at TISS; and Vanita Viswanath. ‘Challenges and opportunities in agribusinesses’ was the topic for he second panel discussion, moderated by Amit Raj, Executive Director of JEN. The panelists were Vijay Pratap Singh Aditya, founder of Ek Gaon; AP Mishra, founder of Kautuki Agro Products; and Shriram Singh, an expert in agribusiness market and a Yatri. AP Mishra also explained the role of milk supply chain in rural economy and offered support to the local entrepreneurs to participate in the this growing network. Hari Bhardwaj, formerly with Amazon, talked about the power of e-commerce in creating market access for the local businesses. Finally, Shashank Mani and Ashutosh Kumar laid the vision for Jagriti Enterprise Centre – Purvanchal and ‘Naya Deoria’ (an urbanization planning for Deoria).  Together with EDI and TISS we plan to make our annual visit to Delhi, when the train stops a ‘Celebrate the ordinary Entrepreneur’ event.

I am pleased to declare that we have started to get financial support from well-wishers for the corpus required for building the Jagriti Enterprise Centre – Purvanchal. The Flag hoisting ceremony on 15th was held at the Banyan Tree, the symbol of Jagriti in Barpar village where we have acquired a 5 acre piece of land for the centre. With Trupti Doshi, a Yatri and the architect of the centre in Gorakhpur, we spent time looking at architectural details of the centre and also met with builders who we are shortlisting for the centre. We are keen to get support from well-wishers for the funding of this centre, the details of which are outlined here. Please contact Ashutosh Kumar in case you can help financially, in kind or through intellectual inputs towards this centre. (ashutosh@jagriti.org)

The Conclave strengthens our resolve to focus on ‘Middle India’ – Tier II and Tier III districts – where 58% of India resides. This focus with an enterprise formula can propel this district, Purvanchal as a region, and our nation towards growth and development, an aim Jagriti is committed to. On behalf of Jagriti, I would like to thank all the guest speakers who travelled from different corners of the country to participate in the Conclave. I extend my thanks to Sharat Bansal and Surendra Sharma, Advisors to Jagriti for gracing the occasion with their presence. A heartfelt thanks to the organizing team who pulled together the biggest Conclave so far – Ashutosh, Amit, Indrajit, Vaishali, Ram, Suvarna, MD, and Dheeraj from Jagriti; and Vicky, Vijay, Harinder, Ashwini, Abhishek, and Sanjay from the local Jagriti Sewa Sansthan. Finally, our gratitude to Shashi Tripathi, my mother who founded Jagriti Sewa Sansthan and all the citizens of Deoria who are now aware of the power of Building India through Enterprise.

Shashank Mani
Non Executive Chairman – Jagriti