#PuneBusinesses: Education and More…

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A month ago, I was searching for information about Pune business on Google. One query led to another and half an hour later (which basically amounts up to more than 25 queries), I had a trend- apparently, real estate is the only business in Pune. At least, that sector seems to have its SEO understanding down to an art. Search for “report” and “Pune”, you’ll get results from Real estate. Search for “industry report Pune”, you’ll get real estate. Search for “Pune IT industry report”, you’ll get “real estate”.

So I figured ‘business’ was a good subject matter for a column when The Punekar was kind enough to invite me to write. The way I see it, the worst I can do is add to the visibility of Pune’s business content.

Now there’s a lot of business happening in Pune, and there is also a lot of information available – it just doesn’t seem to be particularly accessible on the Internet. To set some expectations so that you may decide whether this column is worth your time, I define business in a rather broad sense – I’m likely to write about trends (if I find any), social entrepreneurs, global links to Pune, education, technology… but I’m likely to steer very clear of the kind of news and announcements that business blogs and newspapers report and write about since they are already doing a great job of that.

From a viewpoint perspective: this column will focus on two viewpoints: yours (reader) and mine (writer). So if you want to read something or are curious about, drop me a line and I’ll do my best to look it up, find some credible and interesting information, turn it inside out, and see if I can make a decent enough column out of it. Meanwhile, I have a few thoughts and I’ll start with those. Education, work, business and society are not only closely related but pretty much integrated and so I begin my learning process in this column by taking a look at some interesting things happening in education in Pune.

In August, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Pune will complete 10 years of existence. While the impact of the institute’s work will only be known over a further decade or so, I found it refreshing that the IISER follows a transparent communication approach, publishing their performance (data is available right up till 31st March 2016). You can view these on their website. Meanwhile, here’s a visual I found interesting.

SMVisual

At different points on the education spectrum, doing similarly impressive work at a different pace, socio-economic segment, and scale are two organisations that I have come to know these past couple of years: ShyamchiAiFoundation and CARE Foundation. Both are non-profit organisations working to contribute to society through education, but with different approaches.

ShyamchiAaiFoundation, founded by Sheetal Bapat, has successfully implemented several projects, the most notable being a career assessment pilot project that the Foundation funded and implemented a couple of years ago. That led to the launch of MahaCareerMitra (a career helpline and portal) in April 2016, a PPP project led by SAF and the School Education Department, Government of Maharashtra. As part of Career Mitra, 15.47 lakh students appearing for the Maharashtra State 10th Board exams were administered an Interest Test, measuring interest in Arts, Commerce, Technical, Health Science and Fine Arts. But more on that another week.

Meanwhile, the CARE Foundation has been quietly running a community school for the past decade, striving through sheer grit to provide education and wholesome food to the 300-odd children from economically challenged sections of Pune.

What does either of these have to do with business? For starters, they have been started by people who I consider social entrepreneurs; both based in Pune, and actively chipping away at two of the biggest challenges in India- meaningful education and employability.

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