“We were having soup and discussing our business plan. It was then that we hit upon the idea of marketing aloe vera soup powder and setting up a kiosk where the soup will be sold,” said P.R.Vignesh Babu, a student of DRBCCC Hindu College about the venture that his team attempted in Ambattur.
The students trained communities in the area to prepare aloe vera soup powder, helped them establish a kiosk and provided marketing assistance. “We learnt how to apply the classroom lessons in a practical situation. We initially struggled to befriend the people, but the process taught us how to overcome challenges,” says S. Sharmila, another student of the college who was part of the team.
At the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) India regional competition here on Thursday, groups of ‘socially responsible business leaders' from 18 colleges presented entrepreneurship models they had developed, their profits and the benefits derived from the projects by the local communities.
Some ventures involved students identifying skill sets of a community, and helping them market their talents, while in other models the communities were trained in producing and marketing various products.
SIFE acts as the incubator by providing a platform, guiding and mentoring students to make an economically sustainable business model.
A team from Dr.MGR-Janaki College of Arts and Science for Women trained communities in the Paramakeni village to prepare ‘prawn wafer.' “We helped the self-help groups sell the product in outlets in the city, and their profit increased from Rs.950 initially to Rs.2,300 in a month,” said S.V.R. Lavanya, a student of the college.
The success of the project is not just about the profits made by communities, but the change that the business has brought about in their lives, said participants.
“We expect the teams to take the initiative beyond the competition and college, and instead focus on its long-term implementation,” said Sumi Gupta of WNS Global Services, a BPO which is one of the organisers of the SIFE competition.
At the end of the regional competition, eight teams qualified for the SIFE-India National Competition that will be held in Mumbai next month.
Six of the teams were from Chennai – Velammal Institute of Technology, Anna Adarsh College for Women, Loyola College, Dr. MGR Janaki College of Arts and Science for Women, S.S.S. Jain College for Women, DRBCCC Hindu College, and two teams from Bangalore – Seshadripuram First College and Sri Bhagawan Mahavir Jain College.