The Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET) at the University of California, Berkeley, has partnered with The Purpose Academy, a programme by the 1M1B (One Million for One Billion) and the Silicon Valley’s Innovation Acceleration Group (IAG). Manav Subodh, the co-founder of the 1M1B Foundation, said The Purpose Academy aims to engage the brightest young minds to solve the world’s most complex problems. The SCET, Subodh added, will help support the initiative by connecting students with the UC Berkeley campus and faculty, and by providing mentorship from UC Berkeley students.
“The Purpose Academy provides a real-life impact lab environment in which students discover not just what makes impact initiatives successful and scalable, but also what makes them fail. Students are then paired with a grassroots organisation from the villages of India and are given real challenges to solve,” Subodh said.
The programme will start in June and end in August. It is 150-hours-long, and will be delivered in two stages. “High school and senior school students with a passion to solve problems in villages are encouraged to apply. The batch size is limited to 25 students and selections are based on interviews,” Subodh added.
Participating students are expected to benefit from the guidance they receive from global leaders, faculty and mentors. For example, Ralph Guggenheim, the American graphics designer and the co-producer of Toy Story, will teach students how to create campaigns and tell stories. “Top students will be given an opportunity to showcase their work at the SCET and other global platforms. Students in the previous batches of 1M1B programmes have used these opportunities to create an authentic personal profile to stand out, like presenting at TEDx, United Nations, World Bank, getting covered by the media, launching apps, making chatbots and even publishing research papers,” Subodh said.
He added that this might also help India become more atmanirbhar (self-sustaining). “The Purpose Academy is mobilising bright young minds of India to solve one of the hardest challenges of rural areas, i.e. jobs and entrepreneurship. Students work to get aspirational jobs for youth in villages, support cottages industries, artisans, farmers and women entrepreneurs. The past cohort worked with a few industrial training institutes (ITIs) near villages and improved the placement rate from 10% to 50%,” he said. “People secured jobs close to their villages and home towns, eliminating the need to migrate to big cities. Some students utilised their technical talent and AI skills to create a chatbot for career counselling, another one creating an AI loan guru, matching profiles and credit scores to various government schemes and bank loans. The vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat cannot be realised unless we bring in inclusive development and reduce social inequity involving villages. The Purpose Academy is a step in this direction.”
1M1B mobilises young people to create impact at the grassroots and villages of India. Since 2015, 1M1B has been working in over 152 villages in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Programmes range from skill development, entrepreneurship and enabling finance for rural entrepreneurs. Over the last few years, 1M1B has trained over 10,000 young innovators on AI and mentored them to create innovative solutions for grassroots challenges.