Entrepreneurs face unequal challenges even before getting in an investor's door. Our data illustrates disparity, even in the field of social innovation.
A Little Idea, Twenty Years Later
Uttara Bharath Kumar was graduating with a degree in English in 1992. Unclear about her future, and with no job, she planned to return to India to chart out her path. A marketing flier posted on her campus encouraged her to attend a talk given by an Echoing Green Fellow and a staff member. Uttara had an inkling of an idea for a social enterprise, and successfully applied to become a Fellow in 1993.
Her organization, Nalamdana, meaning ‘are you well?’ in Tamil, celebrates its 20th anniversary next year and continues to use creative communications methodologies to shift behavior in health, education, and sanitation across India. As we reconnect with our alumni and continue to support our Fellows, Uttara visited Echoing Green a few weeks ago to give us an update on her work across India, Zambia, and the United States. While Uttara is no longer at the helm of Nalamdana, she still serves on the board and provides technical guidance for programs and research. So we formed our own little “brain trust” to offer her advice, feedback, and guidance as she traveled the country to share the stories of their work. We’re not surprised that her little idea has sustained for two decades, creating an institution of knowledge, while putting on thousands of street plays to entertain and educate.
With the 2013 Echoing Green Fellowship now open for applications, we wonder, what circumstances, by chance or otherwise, are leading you to launch your enterprise? What “little” ideas will we be hearing about in 2033?
We’ll admit that the Fellowship is more competitive than it was twenty years ago and the application takes some serious time and self-reflection. But, our imaginations—and we hope, yours—are running wild with the possibilities for the future.
Photo: Uttara with Echoing Green President Cheryl Dorsey in November, 2012.
Bringing about dramatic and lasting social change requires lifelong leadership and learning lessons along the way.
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