India, Pakistan and UK Students Collaborate to Design Sustainable Ventures on Women Safety at the International Social Innovation Challenge

New Delhi, Delhi, India:  The Jindal Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship at O.P.  Jindal Global University recently hosted, the International Social Innovation Challenge (ISIC-15), designed around the theme of ‘Empowering Women through Safer Communities.’ This first of kind “collab-etition” format consisted of students from three different universities – O.P Jindal Global University (Jindal Global Law School), The University of Southampton and the Lahore University of Management Sciences. The students navigated their cultural, ideological and disciplinary differences to come up with innovative ideas for sustainable social enterprises. After an intense competitive pitch on the last day, one of the teams emerged victorious. The winning team and their venture, ‘Sashakta’ will receive free support from a leading crowdfunding platform in the UK and undergo incubation from all three partner Universities for the fruition of their social enterprise.

Prof. C. Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University while addressing the students at the challenge emphasized on the need for greater collaboration across the globe, he said “It is a novel idea to get the youth of three countries Indian, Pakistan and UK to work toward designing sustainable ventures on women’s safety at the International Social Innovation Challenge. Forums such as ISIC-15 allow students to discover in an experiential way, that as future global leaders they will have to find local solutions to global problems and understand local perspectives and challenges to address global issues. We at JGU have worked since inception to collaborate with over 100 institutes in 34 countries with the belief that it is this global exposure which will instill in our students global values to become global leaders of tomorrow who can think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to pressing global issues.”

The event cultivated a powerful narrative of global collaboration and challenging assumptions. Jeremy Wade, Associate Director, Jindal Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship at O.P. Jindal Global University, said: “it was inspiring to witness students from such different backgrounds come together so effectively to tackle a global social problem. As a 21st century global community, we are facing a range of complex and unprecedented problems. This experience leaves me feeling more optimistic about the potential for the next generation of leaders to tackle these problems with creative solutions.”

The format of the challenge was a carefully thought out three-fold approach – to understand, to design, and to deliver a sustainable solution to the  global social challenge of empowering women through safer communities.

Upon arrival the students from the three universities were divided into five international teams which then underwent 10 days of skill focused workshops to facilitate the creation of sustainable social enterprises. Workshops were conducted by the University of Southampton staff – Dr. Pathik Pathak, Josie Francis and Roxanne Persaud – who led students through the process of design thinking, prototyping and digital dimensions on social innovation. From the Jindal Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship (JSiE), Jeremy Wade and Rohini Sen led workshops on the business model canvas and community engagement. Rahul Nainwal, Founder of UnLtd Delhi (a partner organization), delivered workshops on the theory of change and the ideation process. Another primary partner for this event, British Council India, organized a roundtable discussion with experts in areas of women empowerment followed by female-driven cab rides across Delhi to meet the management team at the social enterprise, Sakha Consulting Wings Pvt. Ltd.

Each team was designed to work collaboratively with students from each of the three countries, as opposed to the formation of competing country teams. This led to the creation of bonds and collaborations that truly transcend borders. “What I discovered is that the hostility between Indians and Pakistanis is based on perceptions based on stereotypes and generalizations. This experience allowed us to break these stereotypes. We all got along amazingly.” says Zoya Asad, student from Lahore University of Management Sciences. Zoya’s sentiments were echoed by Alex Dawson, a recent graduate of the University of Southampton who said: “The highlight of the programme for me was watching the Indian and Pakistani students working together.”

The organizers of ISIC-15 see this model of global collaboration, skill- based training, and local community engagement as key to equipping students with tools required to tackle 21st century challenges.

 The last night of ISIC-15 was eventful in the truest sense. The final award ceremony was followed by a dinner where the participants bid each other goodbye with promises of sustainable ventures and friendships. Rachit Shrivastav, a final year student at Jindal Global Law School and also a member of the winning team said “I had never considered the idea of starting my own startup before ISIC-15, now I am convinced that is what I want to do after graduating.” Rachit’s words perhaps best sum up the vision of ISIC-15 and motivate us to discover our inner social innovators and entrepreneurs, outside the cliché of higher education in India.

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