Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.
I have prior experience of fundraising for the Southern African Fund for Education during my time at the University of Cambridge. This endeavour helped me build strong knowledge of social challenges, a network of colleagues engaged in social development and equipped me with critical skills in fundraising, partnership development and impact evaluation. I have strong interpersonal skills supported by cross-cultural competencies and proficiency in six languages including Mandarin, French, German and Spanish. I have also received training from business experts during a 5-week Climate-KIC workshop focused on training young entrepreneurs to build sustainable, for-profit enterprises that will combat climate change. I have been mentored for the past year by Bruno Cotta, Director of Enterprise Strategy at Imperial College London, and now have a better understanding of business strategy development for rural markets. In the year since Oorja was founded I have honed my pitching skills to raise over US$100k and supervised a team of undergraduate students at Imperial College on the design, construction and testing of the Oorja prototype.
Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?
I am being mentored by Bruno Cotta, Director of Enterprise Strategy at Imperial College; James Allen, investment manager and advisor focused on the agriculture, cleantech and responsible investment sectors, and Leah Stern, Portfolio Manager at Echoing Green. I am also being advised by Lukas Lukoschek, co-founder and CEO of Meshpower, a solar micro-grid company operating in India with similar goals to Oorja. I am currently in conversations with several potential technical partners who will provide assistance with technological development. These include Prof S Dasappa at the Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore), technology developer for low-cost gasifiers; Dr Hari Sharan, Chairman of DESI Power and rural electrification expert; Dr N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy, CEO of E-GEO, rural energy specialist and expert in biochar application. I also receive additional technical support through my PhD supervisors, Dr Jason Hallett and Dr Paul Fennell, as well as the wider academic networks that I am part of at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College and the Joint BioEnergy Institute in Berkeley.