‘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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