I nurtured my father’s dream of creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem for kids

Bhagyashree Gandhi
Vikalpa’s Abhyudaya Global Village School

I have been on a journey from mere existence to purposeful living. I live in a space with 317 children, 35 adults, 45 cows, 1000 birds and millions of honey bees. They help me evolve every single moment. I feel empowered every day with the freedom to make choices for myself. I choose self-awareness over self-doubt. I choose empathy over sympathy and judgement. I choose to be a change-maker instead of pointing to problems as a mere spectator. These choices take practice.

After almost five years of work in the corporate sector, first, as an engineer in the power sector and later as an MBA HR graduate in an investment bank, I had realised I do not want to do this for the rest of my life. I was constantly wondering, “What will truly energize me throughout my life?” and “Will I ever look forward to Mondays?” As I waited for my answers, I happened to meet Sachin. Since he came from a family with the same spirit of social service as mine, we both decided to quit our jobs in Bangalore and Pune respectively. It was a tough decision that came naturally to us. My father had started a school called Abhyudaya Global Village School near Nagpur in 2010. The school rested on agricultural land of around 5 acres. We saw a bright green future in this school. We started commuting to this place 45 km away from the city.

When our son Shashwat was three months old, we took another decision. We completely shifted from Nagpur to the farm and decided that Shashwat will study in the same school. That pushed me to be even more invested in the day-to-day learning, activities and relationships that make up a school. At Abhyudaya Global Village School, I perform the role of Director of Academics. Our aim is to be a fertile ground for organic education to help children to become self-aware and responsible individuals. We use sports and agriculture as tools for understanding life in an integrated way. The school is an unaided school but gets support from the community and a few corporates. The school has pulverisers, wooden oil mills, demonstration units of small enterprises so that children can imbibe and understand entrepreneurial qualities from a young age. As a social entrepreneur, I feel overjoyed to work from this space.

Opportunities for women in your sector today.

Women who have an inclination towards alternative learning spaces have a great scope to work and feel satisfied. There’s a huge gap in the current education system. With the new education policy coming up, women will definitely find a great opportunity to work and contribute in areas where education is more meaningful and impactful.

Your mantra for being a strong and inspiring woman in business.

Just keep evolving like a river, don’t get trapped by clinging to any specific belief. Keep an eye on your intentions.

If you would like to share any contribution of yours which inspired fellow women in business.

The women in my team have started realising their self-worth. Their individual journeys of the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly have begun. They have decided to shun off their images so that they feel free of the burden they had been carrying for years.

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