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We know that stories can make children believe so strongly in possibility that they can dare to change their lives.
What we do.
Our flagship project, ‘Be! an Entrepreneur’ also called ‘Be! Schools’, is a series of 75 stories, games and weekly action projects that have been teaching 300,000 young people age 12-15 in 1,000 Government Secondary Schools in Bihar 21st Century Design-Thinking Entrepreneurial skills at school.
Since 2012 we’ve worked in 1,000-3,000 Government Secondary Schools in Bihar. 150,000 of the young people we reach are girls. 2/3 of our stories feature girl heroes and young women entrepreneurs taking on India’s biggest problems and solving them through grit, determination, design and the spirit of problem-solving sustainable enterprise.
To design Be! an Entrepreneur, we began with research. We asked young people face to face through focus group discussions and interactive design tools, Who are your heroes? What problems would you solve if you could right now and when you are 18? We designed tools to map the entrepreneurial skills that children have and use in their lives. Then, we travelled across 10 states in India to listen to young people about what they really want to change in their lives. We mapped 150 sustainable enterprises that solved multiple problems, in search of the entry point for young people from low-income groups. Fusing two research streams together, we wrote, designed and prototyped stories that introduced young people to new heroes: entrepreneurs.
Why we do it
When we began we knew that there would be 200 million young people under 30 and out of work in India by next year: 2020. This is the largest young unemployment crisis the world has ever seen. While millions of young people struggle to stay in school, 50% will drop out without the skills they need to get a job or create a job. And girls, young women are even more adversely affected. Even if they stay in school they are not learning the skills they need to start an enterprise or make it through a critical job interview. We want to make secondary education relevant to employment so that young people stay in school and learn the skills they need to get a job, create a job and move out of poverty.
Get a Plan, is our current project, built on the success of Be! an Entrepreneur. We’re designing 30 new graphic novels that are in-depth, 25-45 pages of illustrations of how to start the enterprise, the skills you need, all wrapped up in an adventure narrative. Each story comes with a business plan, cash-flow, branding guidelines and where you can access capital to get started. They are complex, but early testing shows young people like the level of detail and also the pragmatism of what can go wrong. A new MOU with the Government of Bihar gives us critical access to Grade 9 - 12 in 1,000 schools for the next five years reaching 500,000 young people every year. The core KPI is, after five years, how many young people transitioned from school to equitable work of their choice.
Meanwhile, in the city of Mumbai, we’re designing and launching The Children’s Scrappy News Service a news talk game-show format to enable children across 1,200 schools and on national television to make the city a place to play and take on Climate Change. www.scrappynews.com