Far from Bangalore, in the city of Moscow, Russia, Dmitry Tomchuk, Director – Program Development, and Mikhail Azarov, Project Manager at the Rybakov Foundation read about the NEN-led E Week campaigns in India and got inordinately excited. They had chanced upon another non-profit whose initiatives and successful campaigns could provide a primer to what they were trying to accomplish in Russia. Also, the Rybakov Foundation where they worked was looking at organizing E Week at the Russian universities.
Dmitry and Mikhail decided to go to Bangalore immediately, and meet the NEN team and their member institutes. Since they wanted to make it to the E Week celebrations during 20-27 February, they got their expedited visas in two days instead of the mandatory seven days that it takes for a visa to India. Here’s an account of their visit from Chaitali Sengupta, NEN’s regional manager for the Karnataka, Delhi/ Jaipur regions, who took them around to NEN member institutes in Bangalore and Mysore.
The wonderful journey of introducing NEN and E Week to Dmitry and Mikhail of the Rybakov Foundation started on 22 February morning and ended on 25 February when the duo left for Mo scow from NEN office.
Day One – 22nd February 2016
On 22nd, I took Dmitry and Mikhail to Dayananda Sagar Business Academy (DSBA), a new management campus which was participating in E week for the first time. Their entrepreneurship initiative is led by Dr. Veena K N, Dean, her team of faculty and a bunch of very energetic students. Dr. Veena KN, is an experienced NEN faculty who has spearheaded and taught entrepreneurship development programs in various institutes.
The DSBA team greeted us with a traditional Indian welcome and presented the activities oraganized on campus through the year and those planned for E Week. This was followed by a discussion with Dr. Veena on the entrepreneurship culture nurtured by NEN in academic institutions. Dr. Veena also spoke about her institute’s academic curriculum and how it had integrated entrepreneurship education into its system.
Dmitry and Mike interacted with a few student entrepreneurs who had started ventures recently, and took part in activities with the students including a flash mob organized by students. Dima & Mike danced their heart out!
The second stop was at the International Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore (IIIT-B) for a discussion on how the prestigious technical campus manages entrepreneurship education despite the academic pressure. We also discussed about the institute’s Incubation Centre, its initiatives on campus, and collaborations with other players in the ecosystem. Mr. Ramesh Sundaraman, Mentor, I-MACX @ IIIT-B, Innovation Centre, shared his experience and future plans of the institute.
Day Two – 23rd February 2016
The next morning we went to Mysore. The first visit was to the Vidhyavardhaka College of Engineering, which is one of our oldest members having come into our Network in 2007. We were warmly received by the acting principal Mr. Krishnappa, team members of Aspera, the E Cell of the college.
After a warm welcome with a Mysore Peta, Mysore Pak and Kaushalya, the Aspera team took us through a presentation on their E Cell including its origins, organization structure, activities and E Week events; characteristics of a matured E Cell; and association with NEN, and NEN’s role in building the entrepreneurship ecosystem on their campus.
The Aspera team discussed in detail about the activities for E Week 2016. The activities included 36 hour startups, mentoring engagements with alumni entrepreneurs, bootcamps, prototype development at ‘The Vault’ – their Innovation Centre, internship with startups, fund raising for E Week (sponsorships), significance of the E Week pledge and organization of large awareness campaigns in a city like Mysore.
Dima and Mike enjoyed watching the E Week videos from last year, and interacting with the E Cell members and student entrepreneurs at the ‘Control Room’ which is the nerve centre of E Week celebrations on campus. We spent about couple of hours at VVCE.
We also visited NIE IT, sister campus of National Institute of Engineering (NIE) in Mysore. We joined Dr. Vidhya, Principal, faculty team and members of NEON, the E Cell for a traditional lunch while we discussed about the new team putting their best efforts to have a grand E week. At the new and picturesque campus of the institute Dima and Mike joined a workshop on waste management and witnessed the launch of a campus company. Last but not the least, we went to the Mysore Palace, posed for a few pictures and bought presents for the family.
Day Three – 24th February 2016
We started with a visit to Mount Carmel College (MCC), just a walk away from the hotel. Students spoke passionately about their weekly Santhe (local Market place) which is held every Friday on campus to encourage local small entrepreneurs and students to showcase their products and sell. They also spoke about their campus company units, credit courses and programs to empower women by giving them a platform to start their own businesses. They shared some of the innovative ideas conceived during E Week like Food Truck Festival etc. and their plan to approach local media and radio stations to cover E Week events on campus. The students were most excited to talk about hosting the E Week regional finale at their college. Sumita Kumar, Associate Professor, Coordinator , Entrepreneurship Cell, spoke about their growth as educators and mentors under NEN’s guidance.
Lastly, we visited Al-Ameen Institute of Management Sciences, a very old prestigious college of Bangalore, a high entrepreneurially potential new campus too. The visit started with another round of warm welcome by the Chairman, Dr. Mumtaz Khan, Principal & senior faculty members, followed by E Week activities including the innovative idea competition and fun entrepreneurial games under the tree. Dima and Mike in turn entertained the students with song and dance from Russia.
The plan was to give them different flavors of E Week from different institutions who were at different levels in their growth as Centres of Excellence in entrepreneurship development. It was all a combination of energy, seriousness, fun and warmth! We ended the day with shopping at the Cauvery Emporium and a good ‘no spice’ meal.
Day Four – 25th February 2016
On the last day of their visit, I brought them to office. They interacted with our team and collected all possible information. There was exchange of gifts and pictures. It was perfect culmination of all the excitement and learning about WF-NEN and E Week celebrations.
However, this all will be incomplete, if I do not thank my colleges, my faculty members and my students. Their love and respect for NEN is amazing, and the bond that each one of us have built over so many years is evident. A salute to the oldest stakeholders of NEN! Each one of them took so much of effort right from Chairman, Secretary, Principal, faculty members, students to the support staff in making it memorable for Dima and Mike.
No wonder, Dmitry was ready to sign an agreement with us from day one and kept reminding me at the end of each day. He mentioned many a times that the experience was beyond their expectations and yet they had experienced only a part of NEN and E Week. Dima & Mike have taken back with them not only bag full of beautiful presents but memories and ideas that they can use to ignite the passion for entrepreneurship amongst the students of Russia.
I made good friends for a life time! Thanks for giving me this opportunity to experience this roller coaster journey of NEN once again.
Chaitali Sengupta is NEN’s Regional Manager for the North and South (India) regions, and can be reached at Chaitali@nenglobal.org.
Rybakov Foundation is a non-for profit organization, founded in 2015 and aimed at economic growth acceleration of Russia through auxiliary social capital development.