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  • Writer's pictureMantra4Change

Entrepreneurs of Chandapura

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

At 10:30 AM, students of grade 7 at the Government Higher Primary School, Old Chandapura, gathered in their activity room. Their energy was palpable as Ms Sindhu entered with materials of all kinds in her hands – ready to kickstart the two-hour workshop of the Entrepreneur Cell. “Settle down, kids,” she says. “Today, we’re going to make paper bags out of brown book wrappers. Remember how you made these bags out of newspapers the other day? The bags you make today would be sturdy, reusable, and slightly water-resistant alternatives to the other. They can be sold to nearby shops and medical stores in your area. Shall we get started?”

Quickly, the tables are made, the tools are out. Students now understand how to create paper bags because these weekly sessions have introduced them to not just bags but earrings made out of quilling paper, pen holders out of ice cream sticks, tribal paintings, greeting cards, woollen decoratives like wall-hangings and more.

The Entrepreneur Cell was proposed by Mantra at four Chandapura schools, supported by ARISE – with the idea to provide children with skills and a means to earn after they graduate from schooling. The project is equipping them with financial knowledge and the ability to improve the quality of their products.

Around 130 students of classes 6 and 7 across the four schools have been attending these weekly workshops led by a resource-person from the community, creating the products in teams and improving their quality with practice.

For Ms Kavitha, the Cluster Resource Person of Chandapura, the E-Cells compliment a curricular structure – Socially Useful Productive Work (SUPW). “By promoting concepts like Best out of Waste, the students are able to be more resourceful, innovative and curious as they enter the E-Cells every week,” Ms Kavitha said.

In a matter of 2 hours, Manoj, a student of the Old Chandapura school made about 8 paper bags one after another. Amazed at his speed and the quality of his work, his peers gathered around him to observe his process and inspire the same in their work too. Manoj finds making paper bags a worthwhile activity because a number of shops in his area use these, they’re better for the environment than plastic bags, and he has even found the need for more bags in his community. For him, making paper bags isn’t an activity limited to the 2 hours in school. When he goes home, he and his siblings engage in the activity too.

At the end of the session, the students gather around Ms Raunakh Jaan, the E-Cell coordinator at the Old Chandapura school to learn all about pricing. Allowing them to create a detailed break-up of materials used in each product, Ms Raunakh gets the class to arrive at the cost. The young faces light up as they figure out the worth of every building block in their product. In the end, as students add-up the values, Ms Raunakh can be seen reminding them to include “Nimma Shrama” [Your (students’) hard-work].

“The project is aimed at helping students understand the use of their skills beyond schooling. By participating in E-Cell, our children are creating opportunities for themselves to earn later,” said Ms Raunakh.

The project has gained momentum in a month, leading to other schools in the area becoming interested in setting up their own E-Cells. The Ramasagara Government Higher Primary School, not far from Old Chandapura has 25 of its children engaged in the weekly workshops. “We learned about this new initiative seeded in 4 schools of Chandapura. Seeing the level of engagement the students show in the activities, we were very interested in introducing students in our school to the E-Cell as well,” said Ms Nagarathnamma, HM of the Ramasagara School.

“Developing these skills will help children improve their capabilities as they grow into adults. Additionally, it’s a very empowering feeling for these children when they’re able to make the items that are generally unaffordable in the market,” Ms Nagarathnamma added.

To build the entrepreneurial spirit in its entirety, the schools are working together on creating a catalogue containing all the products and aid its marketing. Plans ahead include setting up a Makkala Santhe (Children’s Market) in Chandapura, allowing the young entrepreneurs of Chandapura to sell their products.

By Team Mantra4Change

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