From Roots to Kitchen – The Originality of Pickles

Name: Shagun Setia, Kehsav Parthasarathy

Yatra year: 2015, 2014

Company name: Rural Roots

“Be the change you wish to see in this world”- inspired by this quote, Shagun Setia and Keshav Parthasarathy decided to start a social enterprise along with their full time day jobs which can support their startup, in one of the tier-3 districts of UP, Deoria. Filled with an undying passion to help the poor, rural roots was started with an aim to empower the rural women.

They wanted to come up with a solution that not only provides employment outside the agriculture sector to the destitute but also empowers women and lifts their status in the society. In other words, they wanted to create a socio-economic change. This led to the formation of Rural Roots, a food-processing social enterprise, through which they hope to create long-term change in this region.

The turning point in their life, they said was a 15-day train journey across the length & breadth of India which changed their perceptions and opened their eyes towards the socio-economic inequality that prevails in India. In 2014, Keshav participated in the Jagriti Yatra, which helped him better understand problems in rural India. As part of this journey, he stayed overnight in a village in Deoria and this experience left an indelible impression on him. Shagun had the same experience when he went for the Yatra in 2015. They still remember being in a village with hardly any toilets, limited access to safe drinking water and people living in the most desperate conditions. It was this experience that propelled them to take an initiative to improve the conditions of people in this district.

They started Rural Roots with an aim to uplift the condition of people in Deoriaand benefit over 500 women in this region. The journey which has been great so far, initially wasn’t so easy.

“When we started the project, we undertook a survey of different villages to identify income levels and other social parameters in those villages, however, without proper roads, street addresses, and without internet in those villages, it was tough to gather the exact location of the village residents but Keshav learned a new software called “what3words” and taught this to the local team to gather the coordinates of as many survey respondents as possible.”, he said.

This was the first of the many challenges that they faced over time. The experience made them both adept at problem-solving which till date they consider as one of their key strengths. Apart from their experience, the passion that was imbibed by Jagriti Yatra through their tagline ‘Building India through Enterprise’ was what kept them going inspite of the challenges.

Today, two years later they have around 15 marginalised women who make pickles and other food items to sell. Apart from them, they even employ 2 full-time workers who manage them in Deoria. Their organization has successfully empowered women to take matters in their hands and contribute towards the growth of their families as well as the district. It was all because of their patience and support that the women are able to create ripples of change.

When asked for a message for the future yatris Shagun said, “JagritiYatra is a revolution that is transforming the youth of the country into responsible citizens. One should be part of it as it exposes them to rural India and encourages them to work for its betterment. No other organization will give you such an opportunity. Grab it and make the most of it.

For more info visit – https://www.ruralrootsindia.org/

To apply for Jagriti Yatra- http://www.jagritiyatra.com/

Isn’t entrepreneurship a spiritual process?

Destination 2: Art of Living, Bangalore

Jagriti Yatra is the journey of awakening, and the awareness leads to set greater goals in life and work passionately towards creating a better world. The second destination of Jagriti Yatra 2015 is Bangalore, which is well acclaimed as the Silicon Valley of India. This year the location was the Art of Living (AOL) centre in Bangalore, which turned out to be an amazing experience for the yatris.

The interactive session with the spiritual guru Shri Shri Ravi Shankar was indeed thought-provoking, and a real motivation for the yatris to lead a life of excellence. With its humble beginning as a small school in a sleepy village in 1981, Art of Living Foundation has now established its presence in 155 countries and empowering millions of people to live a peaceful life. A day on AOL and an interactive session of one hour with Shri Shri Ravi Shankar has made the day memorable for the yatris.

Here is the takeaway from the interactive session with the guru which is a piece of motivation for every passionate youth, “To be in a comfort zone is a sign of old age. What other feels difficult, it is entertainment for the youth.”

The noon session was also reviewed as equally motivating, as it started with a session by N. S. Parthasarathi, CEO of Mindtree. It followed with a panel discussion about Digital India, in which Shradha Sharma, Founder of Yourstory, took the role of moderator. Rahul Yadav, the brain behind Housing.com, was among the panelists, and the yatris listened to the story of his entrepreneurial journey.

JEN, a new edge to building middle India

Jagriti Enterprise Network (JEN) is yet another initiative by the core team of Jagriti to go a step ahead in its goal of building India through enterprises. It aims to institutionalise the wide and diverse network created out of the yatra each year and contribute a share to the development of middle India by enhancing the enterprise ecosystem. It enables the enterprise ecosystem accessible in small towns and villages through its network of facilitators at the district level.

JEN is closely linked to the JEC, which stands for elaborated as Jagriti Enterprise Network. In short JEC is the brick and mortar institution while JEN is the blood and sweat of Udyam Corps, and works for a common goal of building India through enterprises. Udyam Corps is the selected employees of JEN and they act as facilitators to bring in the support of the entrepreneurial network to the people in the underprivileged areas. They act as a support system for small and medium enterprises to get access to the top level management of organisations.

JEN aims to boost the entrepreneurial activity especially, in middle India by implementing a district level development framework and works at the grass root level in each district. JEN works with rural entrepreneurs by providing incubation facilities, giving access to funding sources, finding out the potential markets and helping to accelerate the business growth by proper planning and strategy implementation. Furthermore, local collaboration as well as exposure to the outer world is provided.

Hardly a year after its inception, JEN is now supporting three business projects in Deoria, an undeveloped village in the outskirts of Uttar Pradesh. By taking support of the JY network spread across the country, JEN has been able to help entrepreneurs to find potential markets to sell their products. JEN has a five member team dedicated to boosting the enterprise ecosystem in the selected locations initially and have already secured support from organisations like Tata Trust.

Amit Raj, who spearheads the JEN, was a facilitator during Jagriti Yatra in 2014. He is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Mines, Dhanbad, and has proven expertise in leadership, business development, and technology led business transformation. He has been working with Infosys for almost a decade in Australia, before he joined with JY. However, his entry into the JY family was pretty coincidental, although he was looking forward to volunteering opportunities in social sector back in India.

According to Amit, the attitude towards starting an enterprise among the communities in middle India has a long way to go. The major challenge JEN faces is to change the mindset of the people and they provide awareness programs for starting enterprises to meet the goal. As part of expanding the awareness about entrepreneurship, there are 12 yatris from Deoria in Jagriti Yatra 2015.

The mission of JEN is to nurture around 1 lakh entrepreneurs by 2022, when India celebrates its 75th Independence Day.Both JEN and JEC is part of a national mission of creating four centres of enterprise in four chosen cities, namely Deoria in Uttar Pradesh, Kajrat in Maharashtra, Madurai in Tamil Nadu, and Ganjam in Orissa. JEN looks forward to support around a hundred of enterprises and thereby provide employment for 1000 people by 2017.