Unshackling age barrier

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Unshackling age barrier

Sunday, 25 April 2021 | Shalini Saksena

Unshackling age barrier

Today’s youth are looking to make a difference. Their minds are behind some of the best business ideas which have made this world a better place to live in. SHALINI SAKSENA catches up with three such changemakers who beat all odds to become successful entrepreneurs

Investment plan for not so rich

Satyam Mehta

16 YEARS OLD

Founder, Rural Invest & Junkguards

One doesn’t expect a student of Class XII to spend most of his time looking for ways to make the world a better place to live. But this is precisely what Satyam Mehta, student of Amity International School, Noida did. Mehta tells you that he has a passion for social entrepreneurship. In his free time, he loves to play tennis.

His entrepreneurial journey became back in 2016. “My brother has a start-up. Through that I got to know everything that there was to know about business. He has an investment company. But I wanted to do something that was for the betterment of the society at large,” Mehta says.

The idea to come up with an app to help the poorer sections of the society came to Mehta when he realised that they lacked the ability to manage their finances.

“Usually rural India lacks financial literacy. We intend to introduce financial literacy in all parts of the country by giving them access to information needed for the same. Before I started this venture, I did a lot of research and found that only a small percentage of the population in the country even thought of having a bank account. Our aim is not to make them invest through our app but to inculcate financial literacy in them so that they can make calculated and intelligent decisions on their own,” Mehta tells you.

The problem in the country, according to Mehta, is that they don’t believe in savings; they believe in taking loans from informal sources.

“This could be because they don’t know how to go about it or don’t have access to the banks. We all know that moneylenders charge huge interest trapping the poor into a debt trap from which they can never get out. We all know about farmer suicides. This was another reason that drove us. We wanted people to know that they could take loan from banks,” Mehta says.

His interest in wanting to know more about investment was already piqued because of his elder brother. After much deliberation, he realised that a huge percentage of the country’s population had no idea about finances. Hence, Rural Invest was born.

“Before the present pandemic hit us, my team had identified certain villages around Noida to find out about their lifestyle and getting to know their needs. But due to the first lockdown, we couldn’t visit them personally but held some webinars where we talked about financial literacy. We intend to go visit these villages as and when things normalise a bit. We intend to target UP first and then slowly move to other States,” Mehta tells you.

He doesn’t anticipate any challenges in trying to convince the people to use the app once they actually get down to meeting them personally. “I am sure that people will be willing to listen to what we have to say and offer. They will understand how easy to use our app is and how they can not only secure their future but also their children’s. Once they are introduced to the app, they can invest as low as  Rs 100. It is a good amount to begin with and see how things work before they start to invest on a more regular basis,” Mehta explains. He plans to study abroad. Once he finishes his graduation, he plans to come back and continue to work with Rural Invest.

But his first venture came when he had just finished Class IX; it is Junkguards. The aim is to reduce the e-waste.“I had taken part in a competition when I was in Class IX. We bagged the first place and learnt everything there was to know about e-waste. There was so much e-waste to be collected. We created a platform that connected all the stakeholders involved. This way the waste could be collected in a timely manner and disposed of just as properly,” Mehta says.

A cup of Boba tea anyone?

Harshita Jain

16 YEARS OLD

Founder, Necessiteas

What does a 15-year-old do who goes to the US for her vacations and comes back home to India and misses her favourite drink — the Bubble tea? Well, she makes it and then turns it into a business venture. Meet Harshita Jain, a student of Class XII of The American Embassy School in the Capital studying the IB diploma and all set to graduate in a couple of months.

She has plans to pursue a business degree come fall provided everything falls into place. She is waiting to hear from a few more colleges before she finally makes a final call.

A couple of years back, in 2018, she took up a course offered by Young Entrepreneurs Academy. “The idea was not to end up having a business of my own back then. But a part of the course involved us to come up with a business idea. I am born in the US and go there every year. I was having Bubble tea craving. A friend of mine posted a photo of her having it and I too wanted to drink it. It was a very small thing that started me on this weekend venture that I have,” Jain says.

For those who don’t know what the Bubble tea or Boba tea is, the drink originated in Taiwan in 1980s and soon became a a rage the world over. It is a cold, frothy drink made with different flavours, sweeteners and  milk with tapioca pearls at the base of the drink. It is a drink that is enjoyed by people of all ages.

“Basically, these pearls are like sabudana. The only difference is that these pearls taste really nice. I import my tapioca from Taiwan. There isn’t good quality available here in India at present. My company — Necessiteas — believes in delivering quality product to the clients; it is my USP. I try to make Bubble tea. To begin with, it was more tea-based; one was drinking and chewing the pearls at the same time. But now, it has expanded and there are fruit flavours. We have vegan options, sugar-free options. What stays constant is that you eat and drink at the same time,” Jain tells you.

Interestingly, even though she was born in the US, her paternal home is in Delhi. Her maternal home is in the US. Both sides of her family are into business. Her mother’s side of the family is into jewellery and her father’s side deals in chemicals. So, Jain grew up listening to business and things that are happening in the office and what can be done in case a problem occurred.

“My grandfather started a business on his own. I grew up listening to his stories and really got inspired. He came from a very small town but built an empire all on his own. The struggle, the hard work and diligence to make it big in life really got me fascinated. That is where I got my initial entrepreneurship from,” Jain says.

At present, since she is still in school and has a tight schedule, she makes the tea only over the weekends. Since she makes these teas herself, she can’t mass produce; her largest batch has been of 100 bottles. Those interested in buying can go to the company’s Insta account and message the order and it is delivered. However, once the school is over for Jain, she plans to expand her business and teach a couple of people how to make the pearls and the drink itself so that even when she is in the US, her business will continue here.

Unfortunately, for her COVID-19 played spoilsport. “I wanted to open a pop-up store but it is now on hold. However, home delivery has worked for me. While I may not be able to deliver huge quantities but whoever has had the drink, they love it. It feels great that people were willing to try new things. It is great that even the older people love it. We also do custom drinks as well — make it with soya milk or sugar-free. Making the pearls is time consuming so I can’t make many bottles. The range for the drink is between Rs 200-Rs 250 for 200 ml. We also have a system that if people return the glass bottles, they get a discount. This is to reduce plastic waste,” Jain says.

Spreading happiness all around

NAKSHH KOHLI

16 YEARS OLD

Co-founder, Founder, The Happiness Project

According to a study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 10-20 per cent of children and adolescents experience mental disorders worldwide. Half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14. If untreated, these conditions severely influence children’s development, their educational attainments and their potential to live fulfilling and productive lives. Children with mental disorders face major challenges with stigma, isolation and discrimination.

To address mental disorders two students of Sri Ram School Moulsari, Gurugram came together and Happiness Project was born.

One is told that the aim is to work towards the attainment of balanced mental health amongst children, in accordance with the new Mental Health Care Act 2017, which has come into force from July 7, 2018.

“Our team works with children belonging to disadvantaged categories, with no access to counselors or trained medical practitioners. Through a greater awareness of mental health issues and general social support for such children, the project focuses to achieve effective prevention and assistance,” Nakshh Kohli, co-founder The Happiness Project explains.

The Class XII student tells you that he always wanted to do something for the society at large and started an ecommerce portal when he in Class VII. This portal came up after Kohli did a course with Young Entrepreneurs Academy. At the end of it, the idea that he had got him a funding of Rs 75,000 and ethniquemojo.com, a website that is dedicated to bringing the artisan to the customer was born. The portal is still live.

“We partnered with Literacy India first. They have a great data of artisans who do wonderful work. We contacted them and developed the website.In Class IX, I saw a lot of cases related to mental health and Apoorvi Bharatram and I decided to do something to improve the situation,” Kohli says.

He tells you that that he is lucky that his school has a back-up where students can go but there are so many other students who don’t have access to counselors who can help.

“This is when The Happiness Project came in. We focus on students studying in Government schools in Delhi-NCR. Dealing with how intense senior school is, exam anxiety, what career to choose, Where to study? and how to apply? are some of the issues that students face,” Kohli says.

Since he is in Class XII, the coming year is going to be intense for him. But he intends to carry forward the work and he and Bharatram have started and work with as many schools as possible.

Unfortunately, the present pandemic put spanners in their plans but once the lockdown opens and things get a bit normal, he intends to get back to work as well.

“We have a website which makes it easy for students to take the surveys. We get an enormous data which is then analysed and results tabled as a report. This takes time. There a quick checklist for an individual to take a mental health survey. This is what we have been working on for the last one year — to make it more sustainable. So even if there is no one to man it manually, it can still churn out the results,” Kohli tells you.

The major work that this project does is the work that they do with schools directly.

“Take an example. I give students unique links that no one else has access to to develop a comprehensive report about depression, anxiety and cognitive and biological disabilities. This report is given to schools who can then work on the findings. In Government schools, we hold fully funded personalised workshops for teachers with psychologists. The teachers can then help the students where necessary,”Kohli says who is planning to study Computer Science in the US.

In the two-and-a-half years since Bharatram and Kohli started there have been many instances, from Government schools, where students have come up and told the duo that till now nobody had ever thought of asking them anything let alone related to mental wellbeing.

“This one of the major reason why we continue with this project in Government schools. We never expected such a fantastic and positive response from the students here,” Kohli says.

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