Making a difference by Starting Up

Making a difference by Starting Up

These are three stories that I found inspiring and hopefully will be successful in getting across a small message, something we, as students, should ponder upon for some time during our education.

A group of 7 Indian students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology won the institute’s annual entrepreneurship competition with their idea of using thrown away banana peels to make sanitary pads for young women. The cost of each of their products was 2 cents whereas Proctor & Gamble, who were the leading suppliers of these sanitary pads, were marketing them at 75 cents each.  The students started a small company called “Saheli” and targeted Indian states of Karnataka and Kerala but before they could manufacture a single sanitary pad Proctor&Gamble offered to buy them out. In the words of one of the students, “Proctor and Gamble made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. The question on all our minds was, should we become pawns in a big corporate company, or should we try for a victory for Saheli”. A few years have passed since and now we can find outlets of Saheli in remote villages in Karnataka and Kerala.  The students live in small apartments, not making close to as much money as they would have made if they had take P&Gs offer. But they still find a certain sense of satisfaction from their work; they’re making an impact, which, according to them, is after all what it’s about.

The next story is about a student who graduated with a Masters degree in Psychology from Harvard. Numerous high salary offers came her way but she’s currently researching on behavioural analysis of teachers in America. A large percentage of homes in America are broken homes, where a child grows up without the support of one or both of his parents. In such situations the teacher plays a pivotal, almost parental, role in the grooming of the child. However being a teacher is no easy feat. Punishing a child for misbehaviour can cause him to go into depression; not punishing him might give him to freedom for more misdeeds. Similarly being nice, strict, indifferent etc., all have their share of unfavourable consequences. These reactions from children often cause teachers to leave and it has been determined that finding a replacement for one teacher costs a school an average of $17000 . Now the student’s work might be considered thankless, since not too many people invest in such an endeavour, but there are many schools around America who are forever in her debt.

The third and final story is about four graduates from MIT who decided to set up glass houses in Mexico. They currently stay in a small apartment in Mexico City whose rent is about 50$ which they split equally.

Through these examples I’m trying to differentiate between the mentality of most people and the few who dare to think out of the box. Most students in India, before even taking a look at an institute, pop the question- “How much salary can I expect to get after I finish college?” or “Which big corporate firms hire from this institute and what are my chances of getting that job?” Maybe it’s time we removed that demon from our head, the one which made us believe that the highest paying job is the best job. Yeah sure it will be cool living in a large mansion overlooking the beach and driving a Lamborghini to work, but maybe, and I know this might sound ludicrous, but maybe it might be cooler living in smaller apartments taking the bus to work, as long as what we’re doing is actually making an impact.

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