by Vicky Das, MiM 2018
Sunny and hot Sunday, 4PM, in Bangalore.
Taking a break from my volunteering project as an impact consultant, I wanted to share with the LBS community the incredible journey my friends and I are experiencing here in India.
As Masters in Management students, a few of my classmates fully took advantage of the year and the resources LBS offers, to develop a social initiative. The idea was not only to give our time to do some good, but also to bring an impactful idea to life, that would last throughout the years and enable future LBS students to employ their skills and knowledge in helping others.
After six months of research, brainstorming, set-backs and perseverance, the Ashaa project was born.
The concept was to connect students with social organisations based in Bangalore. In collaboration with Head Held High, an accelerator program for social entrepreneurs and activists, two groups of MiMs would work for six months as consultants for an NGO/social entrepreneur. In addition, they would get the chance to travel to India and work intensively for two weeks on the project.
Here in Bangalore; I feel very lucky to have joined the pilot of this programme. We have unpacked our luggage only a week ago, and yet it feels we have accomplished a lot already.
There are two organisations we are working with: Liter Of Light, an NGO that installs solar lamps in remote areas, and Estah Society, an agricultural cooperative. Within a week, we have been able to develop a business plan, to propose an investor pitch and to elaborate communication materials. Not only are we giving our hours as volunteers, but also applying our knowledge. Thus, we are able to impact the core structure of those organisations, helping them to become more sustainable and to grow.
On the other hand, this experience, specifically the exposure to a wholly different culture, has taught us a lot. We have had the opportunity to discover rural India, by visiting farms or driving 6 hours to meet a remote community. The countryside, a mix of green landscapes, lush from the rainy season, and mountains and rivers, is astonishing. Furthermore, we met very humble people, living in poverty and yet not in misery. Finally, we have experienced a new business culture and we had the opportunity to attend a conference on the Corporate Social Responsibility sector and to network with people from various industries with a keen interest in social impact.
The city itself gathers a great mix of cultures, both from within India, as well as internationally. This is especially reflected in the amazing food culture; one can find restaurants catering to every taste and the veggie-friendliness of Indian cuisine has been a great joy to us. Despite being a 10+ million city, Bangalore is surprisingly green. There are many parks where cultural events take place or people just gather to hang out, play cricket and enjoy the shade. The traffic can be quite crazy with 5 lanes of vehicles squeezing onto 2 lanes of street, not to mention the occasional random cow stopping on the middle of the street. The people of Bangalore have so far been nothing but incredibly kind and helpful. Despite the language barrier at times, we have not once felt lost or misunderstood.
And then of course there’s also the great yoga classes!
Now there is one more week to go, and I look forward to new adventures to come.