Archives for posts with tag: Analysis

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!


Yes, IT is on. And here’s the link to all events happening around and through the week.  NextBillion did a post on GEW a few days ago and it reminds me of how entrepreneurship and sustainable development continue to dominate as topics of interest at universities around the world. Each November, the Global Entrepreneurship Week connects people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. Co-founded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Enterprise UK in 2008, GEW has become a quite popular series of events.

So what does this mean for us? As a community of students, researchers, VCs and mentors  including people from academia and industry, entrepreneurship is something we celebrate throughout the year – through the Acara Challenge and through our Sales for Social Impact program. Entrepreneurship is a part and parcel of our vision and nature.

I want to use this opportunity to do a series on some important and difficult questions that we have been facing in our work of encouraging and supporting student entrepreneurship, both in developed and developing countries.

Here’s the first question: How important do you think it is to teach entrepreneurship and design thinking to students? As Acara Institute, we have been doing this for over two years now and have faced several roadblocks. And when we looking at business plan competition organizers or early stage incubators, we wonder whether that’s what we should focus our efforts on.

Should we drop our agenda of teaching students about concepts of sustainable development, business planning and team management! And instead, just invite entries for social business plans from universities around the world! Wouldn’t that be much easier, rather than continuing to work with faculty members and training them so that they can hep students? But isn’t education an important component of the value chain. Can we simple assume that students have enough information and self learning tools that they can start ventures, particularly those focuses on the bottom of the pyramid. Or maybe with limited resources at hand, it makes sense to just support mature ideas with successful proof-of-concept and forget about the education part!

We look forward to hearing from you!