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In Conversation With Aashish Beergi, Co-Founder & CEO, MASH Global

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Aashish is a youth activist and a pasionate social entrepreneur based out of New Delhi, India. He has been a British Council’s Global Changemaker and founded MASH Global. A graduate from Jamia Millia Islamia, he represented India at the International Youth Forum 2011 in Seliger, Russia and the Global Youth Summit in the UK, 2009. Recently, he was invited at a high-level Experts Meeting on Youth Mobile initiative by UNESCO in Paris, France.

Aashish also consults businesses in Media and Waste Management. He has also been a part of Young India Challenge since it’s inception in 2014, first as a Happiness Team member and also as a mentor.

We got a chance to interact with him recently and he happily answered a few questions for us.

Here’s a snippet of our conversation:

Q1. What drove you to come up with the idea for MASH Project?
Ans. I had been volunteering with various youth organisation during my school and college time. During this period, I realised that many of my friends also wanted to volunteer and work with various cause based organisations but, due to time constraints and challenge of travelling from one-point to another, it would be difficult for them along with their ongoing studies and other extra-curricular.

On the other hand, I saw many grassroots development organisations facing major challenge with basic tech-based requirements like a decent website, good quality content for blog and active social media engagement. Many of them also required a mobile-app based intervention to scale their impact.

MASH Project started as an idea while I was attending UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris in 2013 where one of the workshops focused on how young people can use the mobile apps as a platform to make a social impact. This got me excited and I started thinking about various ways how young people can remotely/virtually volunteer to create mobile apps which requires not only tech-based expertise but also other areas like research, designing, content writing and social media marketing among others.

Q2. Being a Social Entrepreneur is tough and a lot of struggle is involved. How difficult was it for you to convince yourself and your family that this is what you want to do?
Ans. I believe anything that you do which is not a conventional or a mainstream career choice, it’s difficult to convince your family & friends when you start. Most important thing in this journey is yourself belief. I’ve had many challenges during this course and it’s the self confidence which has kept me going! I think once you’re confident about what you want to do and do it regardless of all the challenges, people around you, and start believing in you. One must know that it will take time, and you need to have strong perseverance.

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Q3. You were a part of the 1st Happiness Team at the 1st Young India Challenge and have been associated with Human Circle and YIC since then. How has your experience been being associated with the #DoWhatYouLove Movement?

Ans. It has been a real pleasure working with Human Circle since its early days, the energy and zeal Kamal, Wioleta and the whole team brings together is amazing! I have learnt a lot while working with Human Circle and it has also been a great partnership with MASH Project.

I have some great memories as a member of the Happiness Team during the first Young India Challenge. I made some very good friends and really happy to see the community and #DoWhatYouLove movement getting bigger! 🙂

Q4.  What was your first thought when you heard about #DoWhatYouLove?
Ans. I was like Wow! We really needed something like this. In a country of a billion, with over trillion dreams, we need passionate young people who are committed to turn their dreams into realities. We need platforms where these young people can come together, meet like-minded people, get inspired and work together to create a community that continues to empower many more. I draw a lot of inspiration from #DoWhatYouLove movement and very excited to see it growing and touching lives of so many people.

Q5. What inspires you to be a part of #DoWhatYouLove?
Ans. I think the biggest inspiration to be a part of #DoWhatYouLove has been the cause and intent behind it. I personally have gone through an experience where I felt the need to be a part of community which believes in you and supports in your journey to follow your dreams and turn your passion into profession! Another reason is the people behind the movement and people you meet during this movement, I have personally learnt so much being part of the various programmes and look ahead of greater involvement with it.

A version of this article appeared here

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I obviously didn’t have everything figured out

Nikhil Kamath

Back in school I was one of those intelligently cool kids who know how to get all the work done and are kind of indispensible. Everyone looked up to me and thought, “This guy has everything figured out”, and I thought so too. I graduated from school in 2014 and joined India’s Top College for Hotel Management. But by 2015, I was turning into a mess, I was writing a food blog that had 0 hits, I didn’t have a proper friend circle and everything was going from coloured to black and white. I was not happy with whatever was going  on, so one fine day before joining training at a prestigious hotel I decided to  drop out of Hotel Management to do CA (I obviously didn’t have everything figured out). At this point, I didn’t want to do multiple things; I just wanted to do only one thing that would make me happy. Then in 2016, after a year of trying to figure out what my passion was, YIC happened.  I met some amazing and like minded people, I figured out that writing is my passion and I wanted to write and tell stories.

After YIC, I started working towards following my passion for writing and within 2 months my work had featured on Little Black Book Delhi, Food and Wine India, Fagnum.com and my blog was appreciated by many people. I finished writing a novel for which I’m currently doing publisher hunting and I hope I’ll be able to publish it by the end of this year. Also I realised that apart from writing in English, I could write well in Hindi too.  Over the past 6 months since September 2016, I can see the transformation in me. I’m happier, more confident, more willing to take risks and mentally stronger. YIC and #DoWhatYouLove has changed my life for good.

Nikhil Kamath
(YIC SRCC 2016)

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I don’t care if people say that I didn’t achieve anything

Shalini Shikha

Hello I’m Shalini Shikha from Madhubani Bihar. I studied in Banasthali Vidyapith Rajasthan and now I’m pursuing my bachelor’s degree from Satyawati College, University of Delhi. I have always been passionate about doing something different, something unique, something that goes to those who need my work. For me it is not about earning million bucks, it is about changing million lives.

So, I started “SAAKARSHAILI” for the women living in slums of Delhi who will now get a platform to showcase their skills of creativity and greater exposure to markets. This is an initiative where women will be taught “MITHILA PAINTING”. The handmade work will then be sold to traders. All the cost of materials will be borne by the initiators and 60% of return will be given to the women for their hard-work. This social cause is to be first implemented in LAL-BAGH slum which later will be taken on a large scale. It comes with a vision to eradicate unemployment and to educate them. It comes with a vision of learning while earning. It is an initiative to explore.

Now you might be thinking what is so special in what I did. Yes so here is my story. I’m from a society where one out of 50 girls get a chance to study. I’m from a society where girls of my age have 2-3 babies. I’m from a society in which girl in jeans, girl talking to a boy, girls who hangout and uploads pictures while hanging-out, going to areas like slums are considered to have questionable character. Maximum permission that my society can grant me is to have a so called “respectable job” till the age of 23, later to which I am supposed to get married. But I am lucky to have a father like mine. Irrespective of the fact that he is one of the most respectable man in the society my father took this step to send me out for studies, to provide me what is best for me. I know he never shows but he fights a lot for me. He allowed me to study but he also dreamt of me doing a respectable job according to my society. But even after completing my intermediate by PCM I took step to pursue ECONOMICS and follow my passion. I know I worked against the person who did a lot for me, in direct sentences I betrayed my father who always supported me. But I know one day he will be proud of me and I will change the meaning of society and respectable job. I know if I fail it will be because I didn’t performed 100% not because I choose something wrong. I do not care if people say that I didn’t achieve anything big but I care about my father I never want that people will make him regret his decisions. I can accept defeat but I never want to see my father defeated. It might sound like a very small problem, but to me it is a big risk. The only thing inside my head and heart is to stand for what I believe in and transform the lives of others through my action.

Let people say what they want to say. Work vehemently and passionately to fulfill purpose of your life.
“Kuch to log kahengey , logon ka kaam hai Jenna”.
And last but not least :- zindagi ki asli udaan abhi baki hai, humare iradon ka emtahaan abhi baki hai, abhi to naapi hai muthi bhar zameen pura asamaan abhi baki hai.

Shalini Shikha
(YIC IIT Delhi 2017)

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From Problem I faced during my education to rural students development Project

Sayli Bhoge

I was born on 7th August 1997 in Shevgaon, a small village in Ahmadnagar District. Till 3rd standard I studied in Government Marathi medium school in my village where my mother was a teacher. I was a bright student so my family decided to send me to school in Taluka Place. So, I went to Abasaheb Kakade Vidyalaya, Shevgaon. Initially, home sickness was my biggest hurdle and I soon overcame it as well.

In 10th I scored 94%, moved to Pune and took admission in Brilliants Academy. During 11th standard more focus is given on concepts but at my school it was more about students mugging up all the questions and answers and score very good marks. So, I couldn’t do well in 11th. Also, what bothered me during 11th was that some of my classmates used to taunt me because I was from state board and in semi English medium which did hurt me. After being the school topper for over a decade, finding myself in such conditions made me feel highly depressed all along the 11th end. 12th standard studies became most difficult task for me which used to be my strong point at one time. Due to this I started taking treatment for depression. Then my mental condition started affecting my physical condition as well which led to 4 long term diseases.

For recovery, from that situation I was sent back home. Before a month to the 12th class final exams I moved backed to Pune for preparation. With just a month’s preparation, I managed to clear my 12th class. I took admission in Pune Vidhyarthi College of Engineering Pune. In 1st year of engineering I worked hard to improve. One day during an Entrepreneurship Development Cell seminar in our college I learnt about Entrepreneurship. After the seminar I joined the EDC as a coordinator and came across a senior’s Business Plan. I started working on my own Business Plan. This interest ended howvever, with the backlog in 1st year. In the 2nd year I observed many of my friends were interested in making smartphone apps. So I decided to arrange for a workshop for our students in the college. Since I was new to this, I wasn’t aware of the right processes and procedures involved and despite my 2 month long effort, I failed in organizing a workshop. I realized that there was no one in the EDC anymore, so I went across, arranged for the permissions and started to set up the EDC once again. And subsequently managed to conduct the workshops as well, for which I got a great response. Since I was the only one manning the EDC, I conducted interviews for EDC and formed a team of 70 students. We started working on various competitions related to entrepreneurship. In one of those events competition we secured all India rank 3. So, this Diwali when I went back home, I realized that the education system was no longer the same. All the students were focusing only on mugging up and not building the concepts, leading to the situations that I had faced during my 11th and 12th class. Students were neither involved in co – curricular and extra – curricular activities anymore nor were they focusing on the state language anymore. After consulting the Trustee of my village school, we drew a plan of action and conducted surveys. My experience of studying in village, town and city was helping me greatly here.

Following that YIC happened, although I was a little concerned when the interview was announced as I am not very confident about my English, but the interviewer showed me support by offering to interview me in Hindi, I was told that only talent is what matters not the language. I cleared the interview as well and YIC was a great experience for me. Well, currently I am working on that project with aim that every student from any village or small town in the country should get a fair chance to learn skills which help him/her to compete when he/she will come for further education in city.

Sayli Bhoge
(YIC IIT Delhi 2017))

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Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass

Richa Misra

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain. I was five years old when I danced for the first time and eventually it became my passion. I never aspired to become a choreographer as I always wanted to be a part of the corporate sector but dance was always more than a hobby for me and it was the only thing that made me come alive. But I never knew life had some other plans for me.

If I had to summarize my college life in five alphabets, it would be D.A.N.C.E. I formed an official dance group of college with fellow dancers. I fell in love with the stage and I wanted to perform every single time. I got selected for a dance camp which happened in Gujarat. This camp was an eye opener for me as I realised that there is a big difference between a talented dancer and a trained dancer. That’s when I decided to move to Mumbai so that I can move one level up as a dancer. So, I told my parents that I want to study in Mumbai.

Going in the flashback makes me laugh as I was fooling myself. I didn’t realize I was making all these efforts just for dance and not for studies. In the first go my parents didn’t agree to my thought as I had got admission in an M.B.A college of Bangalore and because being parents they had their own insecurities about Mumbai. It was a difficult task to convince them but somehow I did. Well my passion for dance made me do it. The next hurdle was finance. I didn’t want to bother my dad as he had just started his own business. My maternal grandmother helped me with my Mumbai finances. I told her I’ll find a job soon in Mumbai and I won’t bother. Soon my dance course was over I got selected in a marketing company and I started taking care of my own expenses. After some time I left that job and I was looking for a more creative job. One day while travelling to my city I thought for four hours at a stretch and I realized that I am only meant for dance. As soon as I reached home I told my mom about it. She was happy about it as by now even she had realised that I am only meant for dance.

Once I came back to Mumbai after my vacation. My only aim was to find a job through which I can manage my expenses and through which I can spare enough time for dance. Luck was in my favour and I found one. In the end, I would like to say I will do whatever it takes to follow my passion.

Richa Mishra
(YIC IIT Delhi 2017)

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I add confetti to each day. I fix problems with my glue gun

Simeen Anjum

Hi! My name is Simeen. I am 19 years old. I want to share my story of gaining independence and recognition and a voice of my own. I won’t go a lot in detail but I was once considered a dumb child in my family. The child that wastes stationery, plays with glue sticks and does not study. My parents would never give me any money because they’d think that I’ll waste it buying craft supplies. Even on festivals, our relatives would give me chocolates instead of money.
Okay so this is my story:
It started when I was 16 years old. I’ve always loved crafting. So I designed my crafts into products and started selling them in my class and school. I got a very good response so I set up a Facebook page (Simy’s Handmade) and that was the turning time for me! I got an amazing response. A lot of people started ordering things. Other campus companies collaborated with me for decoration services. It grew! I got in touch with carpenters, tailors, welders and a number of artists. I had such a vast variety of products to offers & I started getting orders from other parts of the country. And I’m proud to say that I have completed 3 happy years of my business & I have over 3000 happy customers all over the country. I’m titled as ‘the youngest entrepreneur’ in my campus. I am always invited to put up my stall or do decorations whenever there’s any event. I have helped more than 20 people earn money.
What matters to me is not the money but the trust and respect I have gained in my family and society running a successful business and employing people around me. Now even if I ask my parents for a big amount of money saying I want do a start-up, they’ll happily give it to me without any questions because they trust me, they know I’ll do something productive. One more thing that I came over is our social construct, the things people say. I’m a girl and I work; the first thing they’ll say is ‘why do you have to work? Are you poor?’ Well no. I don’t have to be poor to work. Everyone should work. Everyone should grow. And most importantly, this entire business thing has made me a very better person. I not scared of anything anymore, I take my decisions, I take better decisions, I am more open to ideas, and I’m confident that whatever comes my way, I’ll come over it.

Simeen Anjum
(YIC IIT Delhi 2017)

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I will eventually reach where I aspire to be

Adnan Farooqui

I’m a computer science engineering student and I have always been fascinated by technology, machines, electronics etc. and I had pretty much decided that I would become an automobile engineer. That goal sustained till I got halfway through 9th standard. It was the time after the middle term exams got over and my birthday was approaching and my father decided to gift me my first computer. I had never had a computer before and all I knew was how to do some MS office and a bit about Paint and movie-maker. But I was very excited about my first computer still. Though I knew nothing about computers, I bought a pretty high end pre-assembled desktop. Initially, I spent days listening to songs, playing games and surfing the internet, until about a month later when I started developing curious questions in my mind like, ‘how does this machine does all this work’ and ‘how can I customize it as per my wish’. I started to hunt for answers and kept on trying, tweaking and exploring. About a year had passed, with my consistent efforts I had gained a sound knowledge now. My interest shifted towards website design and graphics design then. after learning them, I started freelancing, a bit of YouTube, started a blog on which I experimented various marketing and SEO techniques and as usual I didn’t stop there. In class 11 and 12th I learnt Java and SQL. I decided to take up software engineering to do something in the world of computers. I kept on learning and experimenting new stuff, advanced stuff and old stuff it went on and on and it is still going on. You would be wondering how did I get the time to do all this and what about my parents, did they not stop me from spending that much time on computers. The answer to those questions are, I gave priority to what I loved doing and what I found out to be my passion despite of my parents constantly yelling at me and scolding me. I gave time to studies as well, scored 85% in 12th boards as well. My priorities always remained to doing what I loved and eventually my parents also understood and started to share my vision. During 11th & 12th standard I was in constant pressure of getting into an IIT or an NIT and for that I had to study but I was still doing my computers thing. It was a very tough task- keeping the balance. I did not get into an IIT or a NIT not even a govt. college. I am in a decent private college now. But I still look at the positive side of it, I don’t need an institution to follow my passion or to showcase them to the world. I know that I will eventually reach where I aspire to be.

Adnan Farooqui
(YIC IIT Delhi 2017)