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www.indiatoday.in | March 7, 2020


Women's Day: 7 brilliant young Teach For India fellows who became she-preneurs to change the world

As part of the Teach For India Fellowship, many young Indians decided to leave their pre-defined career paths and teach in a low-income classroom for two years. Here are the stories of 7 brilliant women entrepreneurs who started off as TFI fellows are now changing the world.

As part of the Teach For India Fellowship, many young Indians decided to leave their pre-defined career paths and teach in a low-income classroom for two years. Over 10 years since the organisation’s inception, close to 67% of them continue to remain in education.

Today, those leaders are starting their own schools, running organizations that are serving the poor, holding important roles in politics, and so much more.

However, while Teach For India over the years has seen tons of such stories of transformation, what makes the organisation’s impact truly heartening, are the growing examples of women entrepreneurs and leaders, who are taking their place as founders and owners of social enterprises, creating ripples not only as teachers in the classroom, but mobilising lasting change for the nation.

On International Women’s Day, here are a few women entrepreneurs from Teach For India, who bear the torch for a brighter tomorrow:

1. Pooja Chopra

A 2013 Teach For India Fellow, Pooja Chopra is the founder of Khwaab Welfare Trust, which is working towards financial independence and empowerment of women living in low income communities by bridging micro level knowledge gaps and imparting livelihood skills.

Pooja deeply believes in the power of financially-enabled and empowered woman in positively impacting her child's education, family's welfare and community's development.

At Khwaab, Pooja and her associates lead community and livelihood projects where they are developing a thriving market for handmade, artisanal and eco-friendly products created by low income community women of Mandawali, East Delhi.

2. Hemakshi Meghani

Hemakshi Meghani is the founder of Indian School of Democracy. Hemakshi Meghani is a 2011 Teach For India Fellow. She has worked with various startups around education policy, and with Boston Consulting Group where she advised the NITI Aayog on a state transformation project in education.

Inspired by her service in a Teach For India classroom, she went on to graduate from the Harvard Kennedy School, where she spent time studying public policy and how leadership can play a role in making people’s lives freer, safer and more prosperous.

She now leads the Indian School of Democracy with the single minded focus of nurturing leaders who exhibit a tangible course of change, coupled with an endless imagination.

As a Teach For India Fellow, she learnt to lead with love and empathy, values she brings to her own social enterprise today.

3. Ankita Nawalakha

Ankita Nawalakha is the founder of The New Education Project (TNEP). She started working in Teach For India classrooms at 18, as a volunteer. Inspired by the impact Fellows had, she joined the fellowship in 2015.

In her 2nd year, Ankita and her team piloted a year-long transformational journey for her kids. With a vision to deepen her understanding of the ground, she joined Teach For India as a Program Manager before taking up TNEP full time.

Her journey as a teacher taught her to believe that children are the leaders of today and not tomorrow and that every child has the potential to be a leader.

The New Education Project is founded on the premise that leadership for a better world can be groomed and nurtured from a young age. If their unique talents are identified and channelized.

4. Chandni Chopra

Chandni Chopra is a 2013 Teach For India Fellow and a Business Graduate from the Kelley School of Business. She is currently the Director of Schools at Simple Education Foundation, an organisation that is on a mission to transform government schools in India.

Chandni spearheads Design and Implementation of SEF's flagship programme, and has played an instrumental role in framing the educational philosophy of the organisation.

Chandni is also the Co-Founder of Khel Khel Mein, a nonprofit initiative that aims to foster a culture of sports among the children.

Chandni is a passionate educator and believes in the power of people. Before joining Simple Education Foundation, she worked as a Program Manager with TFI and led their Udyami programme in Delhi, which encouraged young students to tackle challenges inside their own community.

5. Swetha Guhan

Swetha is the Co-Founder and Head of Product at Key Education Foundation. She started her career as an engineer in stem cell research before doing the Teach for India Fellowship in 2012.

She has a Masters in Elementary Education from TISS, Mumbai and has worked in the core academic team at Agastya foundation. Swetha also led Research and Product development at Experifun Educational Solutions.

In her tenure as a TFI Fellow, Swetha and her associates learnt that 90% of a child’s brain develops before the age of 6, and early childhood education could improve their life outcomes for a long time to come. However, she saw that Early Childhood Education [ECE] is one of the largest unregulated spaces in Indian Education.
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Despite research and efforts to improve quality, the gap between different economic sections of society was widening each year in terms of the parent’s ability to provide quality ECE for their children. These findings gave birth to the Key Education Foundation.

6. Alamelu Kathiresan

Alamelu is the co-Founder of Math Love, an organisation that nourishes 21st-century skills through Math.

Alamelu worked as an IT consultant with an MNC for two years before joining the Teach For India Fellowship in 2016. In her time as a Fellow, she saw that while Math is a much feared subject, it also has endless potential to create a holistic learning model.

She decided to strive to make math the most loved subject, instead of a dreaded one, and transform her students into confident math learners. This was the genesis of her organisation.

7. Nisha Subramaniam

Nisha is the founder of Kanavu, an organisation based on School Cluster Transformation. A sociologist and journalist by qualification, Nisha completed her Teach For India Fellowship in 2012.

A 5-year journey as a Program Manager and Senior Program Manager on staff at Teach For India Chennai deepened her desire to explore what the vision of ALL children receiving an excellent education really meant.

All her roads of thought led to rural Tamilnadu, where Kanavu was born.

(Source: https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/featurephilia/story/women-s-day-7-brilliant-young-teach-for-india-fellows-who-became-women-entrepreneurs-1653456-2020-03-07)