Entrepreneur: Monis Shamsi
Business Name: You Can Foundation
Welcome to Entrepreneurs of India #startupstories episode 111
The average age of half of India’s population is twenty-five. It gives a hope for the country in coming years. Youngsters can do wonders if they roll up their sleeves to make a difference in the country. But only a few of them are working at grassroot level to address the pressing problems of the country. Monis Shamsi is one among them. He’s creating an impact in the society with his NGO, You Can Foundation. As its president, Monis helps youth channelise their energy properly.
Monis started with blood donation camps and expanded to providing education to the youth. He believes the traditionally structured way of educating students has weakened their curiosity and ability to ask questions.
“Right from the school days students are made to think in a very structured manner with an eye on the final exams. I realized this is exactly what I need to break. And, to break the wall, I decided to evolve my organisation’s purpose and vision,” he says.
Today, You Can Foundation is in the forefront to equip the youth with education, community development, volunteering, and self awareness. Monis talks about his pursuit and shares the story of You Can Foundation.
1) How did you get your idea for this NGO?
As an individual, I have always been engaged with social issues and problems of the locality, communities around me and the nation at large. I always try and understand the state of our nation and the social initiatives happening in contemporary times.
Since my childhood I have been visiting hospital either with my father or sometimes with my younger brother due to their long life medical problems.
My younger had to be given blood regularly. During that time, I realized that so many other people may also be going through the same situation. That incident gave birth to a very strong vision that I must do something for the society.
I started by organizing blood donation camps to save lives of people who were in need of blood. The idea led to the birth of my NGO. At the same time, I started experimenting with education for my bread and butter. What began as a mode of livelihood soon developed into a full-time passion.
While teaching children, I realized the gaps in our education system. My blood donation camps led me to educational institutions for volunteers. In a short span of time, I developed a very strong rapport with several students, teachers, parents and educational administrators.
While talking to them, it came to my mind that many students today are not socially very much engaged. After doing some research, I realized that individualism and consumerism is developing because of a very structured education system which hardly has room for questioning and freedom of thought. Right from the school days students are made to think in a very structured manner with an eye on the final exams.
I realized this is exactly what I need to break. And, to break the wall, I decided to evolve my organisations purpose & vision. Now my organisation work in the direction of Youth Development through experiential learning, and that is how we learn and evolve, We engage youth in volunteering and community services using the methodology of experiential learning by partnering with institutions, NGO and colleges.
The idea is to sensitise youth and give them a platform where they can understand themselves and society as well and solve the problem with an entrepreneurial approach. This is the amalgamation of education, community development , volunteering , and self awareness.
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
India is going to be the youngest Country in 2019, we have 27.5% of population between the age group of 15-29 years. By 2020 we are expected to have population exceeded by 1.3 billion with a media age of 28 years.
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
My family had always supported me. I still remember the date 3rd December 2013, when I decided to start my NGO. I was on complete bed rest due a fracture in my leg, but I decided to go to the nearest register office on wheelchair to get my NGO registered & that was the time when my family supported me without any question.
4) What was your biggest mistake in and what did you learn from it?
When I started my organisation I was relying on donations, although my team (Volunteers) always helped in fundraising. But i realised that it was not a sustainable approach, so I decided to use entrepreneurial approach to make my organisation sustainable in long run.
5) What habits contribute to your success?
I give time to myself and that one habit has always helped me to connect with people I deal with. If you can understand yourself, you can understand people around you.
If you can manage yourself,you can manage anything in this world.
6) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
I am happy with whatever I have and what I have been doing.
7) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think
What you seek is seeking you – Rumi
8) Where do you find inspiration?
I find it in everything I see. Sometimes I find it in a flower and sometimes in a tree. Sometimes in clouds, air and water . Everything around you has something to say , something to inspire, the more we are aware the more we see and hear.
9) What is your favourite book ?
Not a regular book reader.
10) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Start where you are , with what you have.
It takes an avalanche of hard work and dedication to run an NGO that addresses the grave issues faced by the country. Monis Shamsi and his team have taken that less-trodden path to make an impact by educating the youth in the right way, calling into aid an entrepreneurial approach.
Their efforts are not profit-driven. Instead, they want to create a positive change by unleashing the full potential of youngsters in the country. A big thanks to Monis and his team for stopping by to tell their inspiring story.
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