|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/