Are you a young professional working in the business or technology field and love challenging problems? Do you possess expertise in any of the disciplines of engineering or science and enjoy sharing knowledge with others? Does helping start a sustainable social business sound interesting to you? Well, if the answer to any of these questions is yes, here is an opportunity for you to mentor students from leading universities in India and US and help them lay the foundation of a sustainable business which solves critical issues like clean water and clean energy.

Welcome to the Acara Challenge! Acara Challenge is a program that uses best practices from industry in concert with university courses to enable students to create real businesses. The program matches university students with counterparts in another country (USA, India and Mexico in 2010) and industry mentors and challenges them to develop solutions to difficult problems, such as the lack of clean water and energy in urban slums. Acara is inclusionary and taps into the passion of its volunteers, business partners, university participants, and like-minded organizations and individuals.

Be being a mentor for the Challenge, you will play an important role in shaping the university teams and helping to grow sustainable businesses. The students will be  creating (with intent to launch) a business that impacts social change: designing and evaluating products or services that help with issues relating to water or energy needs in India or other “Base of the Pyramid”

We are seeking volunteers with a background in one or more of the following areas:

  • Business start-ups (corporate or new)
  • Technology Evaluation
  • Design Thinking
  • New Product Design/Engineering
  • Marketing
  • Business Models

The students are bright and motivated. Acara Institute and the participating universities will provide curriculum, lectures, access to resources and a specific Challenge for technology and business  development (2009 was “Clean Water in the Slums of Mumbai”). Acara will provide continued to support to launch a business to the two best concepts that come out of this process. We know that having access to a business and/or technology mentor creates a better team. We need at least one mentor for each team to assist with the early “fuzziness” of design thinking. someone who can perhaps provide some suggestions for when teams get “stuck”, can help the team to understand that the design must be commercially  feasible, can help with evaluation criteria of design concepts or business models….In short, someone who has been through this before and can take away some of the ‘angst’. Acara Institute does have mentor training and resources available; if you enjoy the entrepreneurial space and have some  experience, you’d be a great fit.

Mentors provide business and/or engineering expertise to teams  throughout the challenge and in some cases, help to launch the business as well. The time commitment varies, as described on the link below, depending on your interest. It could range from just a few hours total as a subject matter expert to several hours per week as a team mentor.

Link to Acara Institute :

Link to learn more about mentors and how to sign up :

Participating Universities – Indian Univs: IIT Delhi, IIT Roorkee, TERI University, KIIT Orissa, VIT Vellore and K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management.
US Univs: University of Minnesota, Duke, Cornell, University of Illinois-Chicago, Illinois Institute of Tech-Chicago, U of Hartford, Arizona State University.