Storified.me in association with Tipping Point brings to you 25 finalist of the Competition Tipping Point 1.0. A unique pitching competition for identifying, mentoring and “tipping” women entrepreneurs. So watch out for the 25 amazing stories in the next few weeks.
“Life is all about momentary flux, this shall pass. Every composite thing must decay.”
India is an economy that reels under a huge divide between the urban and the rural classes. More often than not, villages are shadowed and ignored while all the benefits and development are enjoyed by the rural class. Sitting in an urban household, we often have conversations over chai about how we should change the economy and create an impact, but how many of us do it?
Nupur Agarwal, a social entrepreneur from Uttarakhand is changing lives and going out of her way to make that difference. Born and brought up in Dehradun, she chose to pursue her education from a boarding school. Her school was a space where she could explore her interests and excel in them. She fondly remembers, “My principal was my inspiration as she taught me to believe in myself. This teaching helped me figure that music, leadership and finding innovative solutions were my core interests.”
She went on to pursue Business and entrepreneur studies from Lancaster University where she was introduced to the concept of “Social entrepreneurship”. During her course of study, she did many part-time jobs, community service, traveled Europe and built her perspective as a global citizen.
In August 2013, when she came back to India, she was determined to do something for the people of India, the rural class, people who mattered. A year passed by, though, and she got deeply engaged in her family business. Through her successful insights, they could expand the business from one family entertainment centers to four of them.
It was when she was diagnosed with Dengue in October 2014 did she get time to ponder about life and act on her social entrepreneurship plans. The one month of bed rest gave her time to think and strengthen her belief in doing something powerful that would empower the masses.
There were two issues that bothered her – the lack of self-expression and the high level of discrimination in the society. In June 2015, she founded the Dehradun Drum Circle to help people express through music, dance, and art. It was a place where people from all walks of life were welcomed without discrimination. The movement was a success and Nupur started organizing two circles in a month. Today, 20000 people follow the movement and Nupur hopes someday this can become a global movement leading towards a larger religion called “Happy Humanism”.
With one of her issues being sorted, she was on the lookout for innovative solutions for the other issue in her life – discrimination in the society. One day, while handling her family business, she came across a candidate applying for the position of a sales boy. A conversation with him gave her food for thought.
She sat down to research and the result was “Evolve”. In Nupur’s words, “Evolve is an ecosystem which gives socioeconomic benefit to rural people and uplifts environmental and cultural awareness among urban people via products and services.”
The concept is simple as well as unique. Nupur has come up with a range of products and services to pique the interest of the buyers, but at the same time being environment-friendly. The returns and benefits are used to empower the people in the villages.
Evolve has plantable pencils, books, and calendars made from recycled paper and elephant poop. What is unique is that once you have used the pencils, books or calendars, you can sow them in the soil and it would bloom into a beautiful flowering plant, herb or vegetable. There are seeds packed into the products.
Rural tourism is slowly picking up in our country and many tourists want to explore the real India, the village life. Evolve helps plan your trip and gain insight into the lives and lifestyle of the rural people. Evolve also has a farmer’s market meaning you can purchase organic produce directly from them.
While the ideas are unique, the implementation for Nupur has been painful. She hasn’t been able to secure funds and is still struggling to make this happen on a bigger scale. She says, “ We are unable to raise funds due to lack of awareness regarding social enterprise amongst investors. I am not looking for grants but need funds for my business model. I want to create a sustainable ecosystem to empower people”
Nupur has turned to social media and believes the way to reach out to people is by delivering a great story through videos and vlogs. These reach out to the clients and send the message effectively. Her Drum circle and her interest in nature, music dance and meditation help her keep motivated through her struggles.
On the path she has taken, she knows the struggles are unlimited but it would end in the smiling faces of rural people. She believes in keeping doing what you love but do something that matters.
On an ending note, she advises, “Be your unique self. Believe in becoming and not in being. Live your life by the presence and not by possession.”