The entrepreneurial coach: A train journey through social enterprise in India

Entrepreneurship in this day and age is instinctively defined as a journey of collaborations and alliances, that helps budding entrepreneurs grow and reach their goals. A one-of-a-kind journey, the Jagriti Yatra – that recently completed its 11th edition – serves the mission of building India through social enterprise.

Supported by Schneider Electric Foundation for three years now, it was initiated by the Tata Group. Jagriti, hindi for ‘awakening’, is an organisation that makes constant and continuous efforts to support young entrepreneurs, through its three main initiatives: Jagriti Yatra, Jagriti Enterprise Network and Jagriti Enterprise Center.

“Enterprise is the new tool”

The chairman of Jagriti Yatra, said: “Today’s generation is witnessing a new paradigm in contrast to the initial years during independence. If at that time Satyagraha was a tool, and Swatantra  (freedom) was a mission, today we believe that Udyamita or enterprise is the new tool.

“A country’s development is the new mission and this has to happen in the smaller towns and villages far beyond the metros that we have looked at for far too long.”

Entrepreneurial coach

Participants of this unique journey, also called yatris, traverse across India in a specially chartered train over 15 days with 12 different role models, covering nearly 8000 kilometres on wheels. The distance travelled in the last 10 years by these yatris is equivalent to travelling twice around the circumference of the Earth.

Parmeswaram Iyer, Secretary, Ministry of drinking water and sanitation taking a session in Delhi.

Jagriti Yatra focuses on seven verticals, namely energy, health, agriculture, water, sanitation, manufacturing and education. With an immaculate focus on imbibing the spirit of enterprising India, yatris get a chance to present their business models over the given set of problems, as part of the Biz Gyan Tree (BGT) activity.

BGT ensures that yatris are acquainted with the intricacies of starting an enterprise and are prepared for the journey they all dream to embark on.

Including 11 years, 1200+ enterprises and over two million people, the impact of the Jagriti Yatra speaks for itself. The mission to provide an invigorating ecosystem to aspiring changemakers has been actively supported by the strongly bonded family of 5000+ yatris, that have found their roots in various roles, doing their bit, in their own ways.

Jagriti Yatra 2018 commenced on 24 December 2018 at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and was flagged off with 500 “yatris” who demographically belong to over 28 states and 49 countries. Women’s empowerment is among the core goals of the yatra, and this year approximately 48% of the yatris travelling were females.

Commenting on the plans for the years to come, founder Shashank Mani, said that if the last 10 years at Jagriti were about building the world’s longest entrepreneurial train journey, next 10 years will be all about building robust enterprise ecosystems in tier two and tier three districts of India.

Here’s what Pulkit Garg, media and content manager, Jagriti Yatra had to say about this year’s journey:

TD: What does this yatra plan to achieve for India?

SM: The yatra is about networking and the process of ‘collaborate, ideate and create’. The major vision of the yatra is to achieve the goal of building India through enterprise. It is majorly to benefit aspiring entrepreneurs, from tier two and tier three districts of India.

“Eradicating unemployment, and empower more job creators than job seekers”

The yatra aims to achieve the goals of eradicating unemployment, and empower more job creators than job seekers. Yatris majorly understand the importance of networking, market connect, financial sustainability of an organisation, or how to kick start an enterprise from scratch. Apart from it being about role model lessons and learning from their experiences, it’s also about the self-introspection. It’s about exploring the self, more than the outside world.

What successes has the programme had?

Jagriti Yatra has had a 25% of success rate, probably the highest among all such platforms and incubators. Over 1200 enterprises in the last 10 years, have been setup in alignment with organisation’s goal of building India through enterprise. Broadly over two million people have been impacted by the way of activities of Jagriti Yatra.

The Yatra has been replicated in five different countries, by our yatris, making it one of the few models of India getting replicated across the globe. This unique Indian experiment is gaining global footprints by being replicated all over the world, by Jagriti alumni, such as The Millennial Train Journey done by a Jagriti alumnus in USA & Ticket for change in France.

“Ccontribution of Yatri ventures towards Indian GDP is about INR200 crores last year”

There have been a myriad of successful yatri stories. The total contribution of Yatri ventures towards Indian GDP is about INR200 crores last year. Get my parking, Great African Caravan, Atulakya, etc., are just some of the many ventures that have made it big

How do you plan the route and sponsors?

The route is planned by keeping a note of the role-models and ensuring that all the seven verticals are covered during these visits: Education, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Water and Sanitation, Arts, Culture and Sports, Energy and Healthcare.

We have been supported by Schneider Electric, Indian Railways, Coca-Cola India, Sheroes, BASF, TCSRD, TATA Steel and many more partners, in either monetary or non-monetary fronts.”

Schneider Electric and alumni feedback

Speaking about the value of Jagriti Yatra, Venkat Garimella, VP Corporate Strategy and CSR Schneider Electric, said: “Our country is at a transformational phase and on a high growth path. The journey forward will be supported by entrepreneurs especially outside the metro cities.

“At Schneider Electric, our vision is to support individuals, households, and communities gain access to energy using a variety of innovative, energy-efficient, sustainable and reliable solutions. With our partnership with Jagriti Yatra, we are able to further strengthen our commitment in building this ecosystem, that brings together corporates and local businesses, and energy-preneurs, dealing with various product and solutions in the Access to Energy value chain. We welcome all the participants who are embarking on this journey with us of Making New India Energy Positive.

“Living on a train, meeting an amazing diversity people and feeling the energy of young Indians”

Rashmi Bansal, an Indian author and one of the 2018 role models on the journey, said: “Jagriti Yatra is a fantastic experience. Living on a train, meeting an amazing diversity people and feeling the energy of young Indians who aspire to ‘do something’ for the country. Each role model we visited whether Aravind eye care or Akshaya Patra were hugely inspiring.

“But equally inspiring were many of the yatris who range from tribal entrepreneurs to tech start up founders. I was invited on board the train as a mentor but I’ve learnt so much from my fellow travellers that I feel like a student.

The 500 participants of Jagriti Yatra 2018 completed the journey on 8 January 2019 in Delhi.

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