In my last post, I said that we will do a series on questions and challenges that Acara has been facing and would love to hear all of your thoughts. Just to give you a background again – the Acara Challenge is a semester-long education and entrepreneurial training program that runs across universities in India, US and Mexico, where students learn about design for social change and create sustainable solutions to community problems.

The question of the week is: ‘Should the Acara Challenge be sector agnostic!’ During the first two editions, we had specific topics guiding the Challenge – clean water and clean energy for cooking. The question is whether such topics help ideate and remain focused or they create barriers. One might argue that when students visit the community as part of the Acara Challenge course, they might discover problems across several domains including education, financial inclusion, energy and livelihood and might have ideas to solve any of them. Passion, sudden interest, personal connection – it could be anything. So why should the Challenge make them channel their thoughts in one or two directions only!

On the other hand, one might argue that specific topics probably enable focused thought processes and might help participants quickly choose one area instead of delving into multiple problems and spending time choosing the problem area itself. With the limited time at hand, this approach probably makes more sense for us. But again, ideas and businesses are started by people who are passionate about certain ideas and passion can be for any domain – from unemployment to technology for agriculture.

What do you think!