My Second Hand Shoes: A Be! Story
Progress Report April 2011
‘Be! an Entrepreneur’ is a multimedia, skills-education project to teach young girls in India, who live in poverty, entrepreneurial skills so they can use their education to transform their lives.
10 epic movies, 50 books (each teaching an entrepreneurial skill) and a 15 part radio series inspire millions of young girls from low-income groups in India to choose to become entrepreneurs and to pioneer enterprises that to solve the social, economic and environmental problems they face in their lives.
Be! makes going to school relevant to employment – encouraging India’s poorest girls to stay in school to learn entrepreneurial skills that will help them to get a job, or ‘create a job’ by choosing to become entrepreneurs, after they finish school.
Be! Books are a work in progress
50 Be! Skills books teach 50 entrepreneurial/employability skills to young people age 12-18 from low-income group in Government schools in India.
Each Be! book teaches an entrepreneurial skill to children, from identifying a problem/ opportunity, to making a plan, a budget, building relationships and the power of communication and persistence. Children will read one book a week and complete a skill activity that allows for constant monitoring of the program – the activities show how children understand the ‘skill’ in their context. Activities range from mapping your social network that will get you to the chief minister to making a children’s newspaper to interviewing local entrepreneurs about their businesses.
Be! Skills books are based on extensive research with over 1,000 children across India to map the entrepreneurial skills they have and use in their everyday lives.
Be! books portray regional stories and are in local languages.
Book 1-35: Explore key entrepreneurial skills with girls: from identifying problems, to making a plan, taking initiative to building relationships, identifying resources to managing finances (financial literacy).
Are graphic novels, blue-prints of 15 sustainable social enterprises that solve local problems and generate income. These books repeat the entrepreneurial skills learned in the previous 35 books
The books that have been completed are:
Book 1: Entrepreneurs are Everywhere
Entrepreneurial Skill – Introduces the concept of ‘entrepreneurs’ and how they are everywhere.
19 year old Jeevan works on a train and travels across India. This book is a series of letters he sends to his younger sister Sarita who stays in the village. Letters are about entrepreneurs, who they are, where they are and what they are doing.
Book 2: My Family Tree - Everyone in My Family is an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurial Skill – Establishes that though entrepreneurs seem ‘new’, they go back generations; even in your family tree.
Young Seema wants a swing and pesters her grandmother for one. But instead her grandmother tells her a story of all the people in her family and the wonderful, entrepreneurial things they have done. Inspired, Seema figures out a way to make her own swing.
Book 3: Getting to the Bottom of It
Entrepreneurial Skill – Identifying problems and interconnections between problems
Seema, a 12 year old girl from a village moves to a slum in a city and meets her blind cousin Pawan. Seema becomes Pawan’s eyes as they travel through the slum—and later the village—discovering the problems of waste, water, housing, health, migration all around them.
Book 4: My Uncle, the Bridge Builder
Entrepreneurial Skill – Supply and demand, identifying that businesses bridge gap between supply and demand
Girish Uncle, a bridge-builder who has built over 90 low-cost bridges, sends his journal to his niece Afreen to help her understand the gaps and needs in villages like hers. Girish Uncle’s journal shows Afreen the importance of filling these gaps and connecting people and places.
Book 5: Three Girl Detectives and the Case of the Missing Village
Entrepreneurial Skill – Inquisitive
Three young girls realize that their village is not on the map and undertake the journey to find out why this is so. Through research, gathering information and asking questions they finally succeed in putting their village on the map.
Book 6: Bijli Brings a Carnival to her Village
Entrepreneurial Skill – Building Relationships and Social Connections
Bijli goes to a carnival in a neighboring village and now wants it to come to her village so that other young girls too can enjoy it. But to make this happen she must get signatures of 200 villagers. Bijali builds relationships and uses her network to convince people and realizes how her social connections help her.
Book 24: Second-Hand Shoes
Entrepreneurial Skill – Marketing, Market Research and Advertising
Mishti is a young woman from the slum who sees how many people from her community don’t have proper shoes, or any shoes at all. She starts a second-hand shoe business to fill this gap. But how do you sell old shoes? Mishti realizes that it’s all about marketing—understanding your market, setting the right price, packaging, presentation and advertising. (A few designed spreads from the book have been attached)
Book 40: Seher’s Bolt of Lightning Business
Seher brings light to her slum when she starts an enterprise of renting solar lanterns to street vendors and homes in her neighbourhood, thereby solving the problem of lack of electricity and dependence on kerosene. Through her journey she battles the system and a corrupt slum lord before finally succeeding.
Book 41: Phulwa Lights a Bulb
A village in rural Bihar changes the way they live after dark when Phulwa, a young girl who is a mechanic not only brings light to the village using rice husk, but also brings an enterprise to rural India.
‘Be! an Entrepreneur’ is a large scale multimedia skills-education campaign (50 skills books each teach an entrepreneurial skill, 10 movies and a 15 part radio series) to inspire millions of young people age 10-16 from low-income groups to choose to become entrepreneurs and to pioneer enterprises that solve the social, economic and environmental problems they face in their lives. From water to waste, energy to housing, Be! believes that young people who have grown up in poverty have the capacity to pioneer enterprises that create jobs, solve problems and generate income, they have just never been given the chance before.
50 Be! Skills Books teach 50 entrepreneurial/employability skills for young people age 10-16 from low-income groups in India – from identifying a problem, to making a plan and a budget to generating resources and building a team to taking a risk. Be! Skills books feature 10 urban/rural business models, in the form of graphic novels, 50-100 pages long that solve issues of water, waste, sanitation, energy, health, transportation, communication, craft, information, agriculture/farming and education. Each Be! book has an in-built activity that children complete once a week.
50 Be! books each teach an entrepreneurial skill to children age 10-16. 10/50 books teach enterprise models where the skills in the series are explored through graphic novels. Here is a story of one of the graphic novels -
The Amazing Adventures of Phulwa the Mechanic
Meet Phulwa. She is 19 years old and unlike any other girl in her dusty little village. She works as a mechanic helping her father, Ram Prasad, at his ramshackle garage on the highway.
One dark night, a car breaks down on the highway. A city-wala pushes the car to Ram Prasad’s garage and is surprised to see Phulwa there. “You’re just a girl, how can you fix a car?”
Phulwa stands up for herself. “I’m the best mechanic in this whole village. I’ll show you.”
But Phulwa’s village doesn’t have electricity and without it, she can’t repair the car, not even with her expert jugaad skills. Embarrassed and angry, Phulwa decides that enough is enough. Young men from her village have been leaving for the city in droves. There is no enterprise here and everything shuts down at dusk. It’s time for things to change. She’s going to find a way to bring electricity to her village.
She hunts down information and with the help of Kumar discovers a village a 100 kilometers away with light. This village generates electricity from a biomass gassifier plant. This is Phulwa’s solution, but she can’t do it alone. She needs to get the people in her village to contribute money to construct the biomass plant. But how will she convince Gayatri, the sarpanch (village head) to support her? Especially when Gayatri’s scheming husband is intent on sabotaging Phulwa’s plan? And how will she convince the villagers, who have long since given up on the dream of electricity?
Find out when this graphic novel comes out later this year.
The Research Book: Three Girls’ “Detective” Story
Tara, Aafreen and Razia are sitting in a Geography class and are studying the map on the wall. They realize that their village is not on the map and decide to find out why this is?
Book No. 5 in a series of 50 Be! skills books deals with the entrepreneurial traits of being inquisitive, actively searching for information and the power of observation.
Family Tree-Everyone in my Family is an Entrepreneur-One of the 50 Be! books about a young girl named Seema who is a young, naughty girl in a village and is pursuing her grandmother to buy her a swing. Her grandmother refuses to ‘buy’ her a swing and instead begins to tell her granddaughter a story, tumbling back into the history of their family’s entrepreneurial adventures over the last four generations. It seems that everyone in 10 year old Seema’s family was an entrepreneur who created opportunities. From the innovative gypsy great grandmother who brought goats to the village and taught the entire village to make butter, to the resourceful Aunt who grew vegetables on her roof in her tiny city house because she had no land. From the persistent great grandfather who to this day, is the only man in the village to have carried water on his head to win the affections of his love (male/female reversal of roles) to his daughter who was the first girl to go to school in the village and disguises herself as a man because she ‘must vote’; and then there is her son who gave 10 mango tree saplings to his daughter on her wedding instead of a monetary dowry and today, her daughter has a thriving mango chutney business that exports ‘YUM-EE chutney’ around the world.
The story ends with the little girl swinging on her self made tire swing, into a wide open field of possibility, underneath a ruminating, ominous sky. She wonders what entrepreneurial journey lies in store for her, swinging over a village field and into an urban city – this is the transition into the next book of recognizing problems in villages and cities.
Tara’s ‘Bolt of lightening’ Business-One of the 50 Be! books about a young girl named Tara. A young entrepreneur who starts her own enterprise, rents Solar lanterns to street vendors and residents in her community and life transforms everything in the area.
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