Delhi’s public schools teach entrepreneurship by catching them young, very young

Mobisite, a start-up that repairs and refurbishes old phones and sells them for Rs 1500. Mobisite team from Saniya, Amrita Mishra, Sukh Sagar, Ishika Negi at work.

This is the first of a two-part story about the Delhi government’s initiative to introduce entrepreneurship courses for students in grades 11-12

Between June and December, when a satellite TV channel first aired its promo for the Indian version of the popular American reality show Shark Tank, dozens of students in grades 11 and 12 at public schools from Delhi had come up with “sharp” business ideas which they had executed. and discussed the investments needed to grow their businesses. Many came out with flying colors in interviews that were no less grueling than those faced by candidates who went to Shark Tank India.

The students successfully sold stakes and secured investments, were offered mentorship and discussed their future plans. Almost all of the students had quantified their benefits and highlighted the number of jobs their projects would create.

They did it all on camera, with the public watching them on “Business Blasters,” a weekly taped TV show that premiered Nov. 28.and in leading channels including NDTV and India Today. It is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. on Sundays for eight weeks and will also be uploaded to YouTube. The capital’s newspapers also publish a full page on Sundays.

“Deal Exploders”

The Delhi government has projected Business Blasters as the biggest startup program in the world. Launched September 7andit is meant to be the practical component of the “Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum” (EMC) for students in grades 11 and 12, which the Delhi government had started in 2019.

The government has allocated Rs 60 crores for this scheme which will among others provide start-up capital of Rs 2000 to each student and will involve three lakh students.

The EMC became part of the curriculum for students in grades 9-12 in over 1,000 schools as of July 2019, after piloting it in 24 schools in April and May. According to the Delhi government’s education department, the pilot program was evaluated by teachers as well as external experts.

The confinement did not allow the teaching of CEM and its practical components to be interrupted. EMC teams of teachers and business coaches designed activities that were communicated to students via teachers’ WhatsApp groups in the form of posters, video links and text messages. The response from students has been encouraging.

Read more: Locked in, but not excluded: women entrepreneurs in Ahmedabad

A Grade 11 and 12 science teacher explained the philosophy of what they hoped to instill in students through entrepreneurship: “The EMC was started to prepare students to be ready for the to come up. The idea is that they recognize their skills and talents, refine and perfect them and take responsibility for their career, their professional path; he must take up challenges, dream big, innovate and recognize the opportunities that surround him. This is our idea of ​​an entrepreneur, and this is the mindset we want to develop in our students.

EMC classes are held daily with stories, activities and exercises to help students learn and understand concepts such as mindfulness, self-awareness, joy, confidence, taking on new challenges, being curious and observer, think critically, recognize opportunities, be creative, communicate and lead. effectively and be a lifelong learner. There are no written exams, grades or grades, the focus is entirely on the process and not the outcome.

From job seekers to job creators

Delhi’s deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, is credited with being the mastermind behind the idea. Under his leadership, the capital’s public schools have transformed enough to give the best private schools a hard time. Among Sisodia’s first innovations was the introduction of the now popular “happiness program” in schools.

Sisodia never misses an opportunity to talk about EMC arguing that the absence of such subjects in school curricula until now has been one of the reasons why India was a developing country when it was in school, and continues to be after so many years.

“The majority of school programs prepare children to be job seekers, their education becomes useless for them,” Sisodia said as he launched the EMC in a school. “There were vacancies for some peon positions, where applicants had to be 8 years oldand class pass. More than a hundred graduate students and numerous doctors have applied there. If they had had an entrepreneurial spirit, many of them could have opened coaching centers.

Read more: The Future of Jobs: Ahoy One Person Corporation!

Unemployment is the country’s biggest problem. About 2.25 lakh to 2.5 lakh students pass the 12and jury examinations in the capital each year. Sisodia explains that if even 40,000 to 50,000 of them could develop the mindset to work on their own, create jobs and not look for jobs, “the job creation quota of Delhi will be reached”.

The government conducted a pilot study before launching the project-based Business Blasters program for all students in grades 11 and 12. At Khichripur School, students were asked to come up with innovative ideas and received 1,000 rupees each as seed capital to ‘go into business.’ The quality of the ideas prompted the government to double the seed capital when it rolled it out in the capital. A total of 51,000 student teams have pitched their ideas, worked on projects, took on marketing and sales in their neighborhood, and made a decent profit to boot.

Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia with students from the entreprnerushp program
“We will soon see children coming out of schools in Delhi giving jobs to others instead of queuing for jobs.” Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia with Business Blasters participants at a school in Delhi. Photo courtesy of

Ideas born out of COVID and online courses

Many ideas have come from students’ personal experience with COVID and online courses.

In Shaheed Hemu Kalani Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya government in Lajpat Nagar, Nitin Saluja, an IIT alumnus used his love of tea to become the founder of the hugely popular Chaayos outlet. Seema Bansal, Asia-Pacific manager and director of the Boston Consulting Group was one of the “sharks” to whom he presented his idea.

Sukhsagar, leader of an eight-member team known as “Mobisite”, first went to a mobile repair shop to learn the trade, fixed his friend’s phone and presented it as a idea. The team bought old, dead, unused cellphones for small sums from their neighbours, borrowed equipment from a local repair shop because they didn’t have the money to buy them, and refurbished these cell phones.

The team includes a mobile renovator and team leader, a data interpreter, a marketing and application and website manager, a promotion and advertising manager, a content design and development manager. accountability. They had sold 12 refurbished phones when they took on the “sharks”. Online classes showed them that many students didn’t have phones, so their idea was born. The team gives a six-month warranty and charges a bit more for a long warranty. They invested Rs 8,000 and earned Rs 32,000! Each fully refurbished phone costs Rs 1500.

As they expand, they are planning an app to help owners of older phones gauge the value they will get for the device that otherwise would have gone to a landfill or e-waste bin. Speaking of business, the team said they needed Rs 90,000 for a month but could reduce it to Rs 50,000.

At present, only one of the eight can actually fix phones, but if they scale up, they would consider employing people to do so, or even hiring engineers, said team member Amrita Mishra. who now takes care of advertisements and promotion. It sounded like music to Sisodia’s ears. Sisodia, which is part of each team of judges, seeks a commitment from the students: that they are job creators and not job seekers in the future!

Seema offered them half of the Rs 50,000 and added mentorship. Nitin committed the remaining amount and internship opportunities for the entire team.

Another group of students, the Techup team has developed software with which they can upgrade the humble old PC. They also used this software to make low-cost computers. The idea is to offer an affordable PC that gives good performance.

Again, the problems many students had with online courses sparked the idea. After thinking about the technical details as well as copyright issues and costs, the “sharks” considered it a breakthrough idea and offered the six team members money and orders – for new computers as well as upgrades.

Afifa, Gulnaaz, Dhruvi and Asghar, a group of four dynamic students from Sarvodaya Co-Ed Senior Secondary School, Moti Bagh, introduced “Silai Mitr”, an app-based sewing service that enables the end customer to get garments sewn by the best Indian tailors. .

The idea was born out of a personal experience of not being able to get a dress sewn in time due to the busy schedules of tailors, especially during festive seasons. Taniya, co-founder of online saree and blouse portal, Suta, was impressed. “It’s a simple and effective idea because it solves a challenge people face on a daily basis, which is finding a tailor. With a little push, it can become very big not only in Delhi but all over India.”

(To be continued… Pay attention to the final part, where we talk to more participating students and examine the long-term vision of this program)

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