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Hult Prize TU Winner: Team Aegis on Social Entrepreneurship

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The literal meaning of Aegis is ‘the protection, backing, or support of a particular person or organization’.  Well, this name perfectly complements the initiation of the winners of Hult Prize at Tribhuwan University.

Sushant Gautam, Saramsha Dotel, Ashish Paudel and Sumit Dhungana, are the co-founders of the group, and they are determined to work to make a difference that incepted with the announcement of the Hult Prize competition in TU.  While all of them came from engineering background, they say that they are working to blend technology and social entrepreneurship._dsc0225

Saramsha shares, “All of us come from an engineering background, and the stereotype is that engineering students are bound to technical works only. We were always focused on doing more; more than what the books taught in the classroom. We are very close friends. As soon as I saw the Facebook post that informed about the Hult prize, I found it catchy since it was about social entrepreneurship and was in search of ideas that could revolutionize the whole world and it was for youths like us.”

“It felt like a competition when our classmates and other students started talking about it and it was the time when we actually took up the challenge and started focusing on the idea generation,” he added.

However, they didn’t have any concrete plans on how they would be generating an idea and pitching it. It all started with a brainstorming phase. Sushant shares, “I could somehow connect with the stories of refugee because I’d seen one of the teachers in my village who was fighting for his dignity.” The rest of them being naive went out to seek ideas. Instead of just one focal point, they reached onto many vague ideas which could hardly be implemented in real life.  Finally, they made a first move with the idea that they had in mind which led them to the next level in the competition.

As they were through to the next round, they got to attend a mentorship session. In the session, they reached out to many experienced people and sought out consultation. Also, they researched on the past data by UNHCR and other organization. Ashish said, “It was the mentorship session where we got to know our mistakes and correct it.” At that phase, they wanted to do something unique which could be simple to implement with a successful business model.

Sushant shares, “We sat in a café and discussed on the ideas. While refugees do not have a citizenship, they have stories. If their untold stories be told to the world, their dignity could be restored.” Ashish adds, “In many cases, the government has not even recognized them. So it could be the best idea towards social entrepreneurship as it could force the government and people towards their acceptance.” They also focused on implementation and presentation of their ideas.

It is usually hard to relate their educational backgrounds to their deeds. Saramsha explains, “At the end of the day, what we use our education is for the upliftment of social life of people. Zuckerberg started Facebook using technology, but at the end it touched the people; the social being and we should all work to make the social sector strong. Also, we wanted to change the mentality of people that engineers could also bring out a reasonable and feasible idea so that changes could be made, and an impact could be created.”_dsc0645

In this process, they also learned that education was the long-term solution to all the problems. They also learned about the possible solutions to unemployment and what could be done to overcome it.

The main challenge they faced in the process was the shortage of time, lack of reliable and factual data and conflict of ideas. Added to this, social entrepreneurship was not their field of study.

The competition has been a constant learning process for all of them. Sharing more about this, Saramsha and Sumit together say that teamwork and co-operation are crucial for success, and the skills of the teammates should be utilized through division of work. Likewise, Ashish shared connection of two different fields to make the life of better is what he learnt. “Technology is just a tool and it would be a cool idea to use it to bring smiles on the faces of people. Furthermore, he shares that working with like-minded people was the best experience. In a team, we were all heroes and all of our contributions was inevitable for our victory.” he added.

At the end, they urge all the youth to not to stop dreaming and take a step to bring about a change. With every step, new opportunities come by and you will get to learn and experience more. Let us all take a minute to ponder on our lives and see what we can do to make a change.”

Their concept of ‘power of Web’ will surely stand example to all the people who aspire to use technology for people.

By Anusha Kadel