I visited the K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research with Fred on Thursday, where we met with the Director and some faculty members who will be taking care of the the Acara Challenge during the course of this semester. Somaiya had invited applications from students and about 15 have been selected to participate in the challenge, based on interviews.

During our interaction with the faculty and students, I realized that Somaiya has been working on a number of projects for community development in and around the campus from setting up a bio-gas plant to helping a nearby village do kitchen farming. The group of students that we met was diverse in terms of background, work experience and personal aspirations. There was some skewness in the sense that most students were from engineering/sciences background and were now studying business, but as it turns out, it is actually more helpful for Acara to have students with such backgrounds.

Somaiya has a large campus with a number of institutions and disciplines being taught across various age groups. From primary schools to research labs for PhDs,  Somaiya inculcates inclusive education amongst it students who are quite active in the areas of community development. A few presentations were made by the Acara teams at Somaiya, which were pretty interesting, in terms of the ground work the students had done. Some very insightful questions also came up during our discussion. One of them being about Acara’s views on B2B vs B2C approaches in the domain of social businesses. And the answer is, “We do not differentiate. Whatever creates more impact is better!”

As these budding social entrepreneurs start their work on field research and design thinking, I will keep all of you updated on what’s going on in Somaiya and across other campuses. Stay tuned!