Interview with Bhuvaneshwari Loganathan
Co-founder & COO at MIT Square
Co-founder & President at Raj Square Charity Foundation
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey?
I am the Co-founder & President of RAJ Square Charity Foundation. As a Social Edupreneur for the last 10 years, I believe in providing cutting-edge technologies for students to develop the sharp skills so they build several Make in India products that can revolutionise our Indian community. In particular, the focus is on women empowerment and enablement.
I moved into social entrepreneurship for the same reasons that so many other people across society are moving into this field: They see new opportunities to solve problems in creative ways; as individuals, they have far more power to understand and address social problems at scale than in the past; they see enormous needs to solve problems that aren’t being addressed by traditional institutions, whether businesses, governments or non-profits. We have provided several scholarships by raising funds to support rural and underprivilege students.
For me, the role model in the education sector is Mrs Sudha Murthy, the Educationist, celebrated author, and Infosys chairperson. Mrs Sudha Murthy received the Life Time Achievement Award was also conferred with the Padma Shri which is the highest civilian honour in India. She has received numerous awards for her academic excellence. This clearly demonstrates her contribution towards the development of education and children in India.
Through her initiatives, programs and books, she has encouraged young and elderly to inculcate a habit of reading in them. Sudha Murthy’s education and relentless efforts at contributing towards the improvement in the society has changed the education system in India to a great extent. Her efforts at revolutionizing the Education System of India has been phenomenal in the country where she supported the use of Computer Technology in educational institutions in Karnataka. Considering Sudha Murthy as a role model I have taken several bold steps in the educational transformation.
Socio-economic development impacts my personality and makes me incredibly optimistic and outgoing, regardless of the situation I’m in. I really enjoy being a social edupreneur.
Q2. What did attract you towards social entrepreneurship instead of job?
A 9-to-5 job seemed like the dream career and I aspired to do whatever needed to make sure I could work in my own cozy office, work my normal hours, get paid a nice salary, pension, vacation and all the great perks of working in a large corporation
Just over few years in the corporate job, I just couldn’t take it anymore; it was time to move on. Many of my colleagues couldn’t understand why I was so happy, with an unknown future. My mom asks when I’m going to be serious and get a job again.
In 2010, we deeply thought about educational transformation and why several rural/underprivileged students are deprived of quality education. Some of the UK programs (like the ACCESS PROJECT) motivated and inspired us to set a national vision and plan for learning that can be enabled by technology through building on the work of leading education researchers; education leaders; edupreneurs; classroom teachers; developers; social entrepreneurs; and Non-profit organizations in India.
The 3 things that kept me moving forward, not allowing me to go back to that previous lifestyle:
Working on a social development and not being tied down to a cubicle feels like I can finally breathe. I’m free to choose what I work on, the time I work, and location I feel like working that day. From my home office, coffee shops, or co-working spaces; needing a reliable Wi-Fi connection is enough to get me through my day. I build my own team and work with people I actually want to work with. Do I even NEED to work under someone? I think I’ve worked enough – I’m going to focus on the community development!
I don’t need to be carrying a particular task, but I do it because I get self-fulfilment from it. The flexibility to work on whatever initiative I choose for the month feels amazing. Making the decisions on how the direction of our NGO moves forward, creating and aligning my vision to the team – is all under my control. If we don’t want to work with a certain sponsor/funder/beneficiary – we simply don’t. If we can help and make a meaningful impact on our society – we will every single time.
3. Endless Opportunities
There are several opportunities to get connected with the sponsors, funders and beneficiaries. Understanding the requirements and supporting the underprivilege people gives complete satisfaction.
Q3. You are the President at Raj Square Charity Foundation. Please share something about Raj Square and its projects?
The Raj Square Charity Foundation is a small Private Foundation that was established on Jan 1st, 2020. The Raj Scholarships and Learn4Free Programs were running informally from Jan 2010 under the Leadership of Dr Mithileysh Sathiyanarayanan in fond memory of late Raj brothers (Varda Raj, Kesava Raj and Selva Raj).
At the age of 19, Mithileysh had a vision to uplift the community by providing free training programs & scholarships. After graduating from the University of London, he started providing support to several underprivileged students in India. Following our founder’s vision for 2020, we set-up the foundation in Bangalore, India as a non-profit corporation, and our officers and board of directors include family members and friends.
The foundation operates without permanent staff and its board of directors serve without compensation for administration and contribution. Creating this Foundation was a purposeful decision of the original donors with clear goals and intent – to support students, women and old people who require financial assistance. Our wish is that the Foundation will unlock a path for people to make a positive impact in their communities. We want the Foundation to reflect life, how to approach it, how to renew it, and how to make a tangible impact.
RAJ Square represents “People + Partner + Persistence + Prosperity” with a tagline “Count on us anytime”. Purple theme represents “Philantrophism”. We are here to serve the community & mankind.
Mission: “High Educational Aspiration & Awareness Realises Innovation & Talent”
Our charity organisation is committed to improving the life-chances of children through excellence in education, encouraging children to challenge themselves and hold high aspirations in their learning, personal and social development. Our aim is to achieve our mission & vision through adherence to, and the practical implementation of, our key values. We encourage students to challenge self and externally imposed restrictions, hold high aspirations for their futures and develop a thirst for learning. We understand that the way to achieve this is through ensuring consistently high standards of innovative teaching and broad opportunities for learning via a rich and relevant curriculum.
The purpose of the charity organisation is to support its partner organisations by building upon their strengths so that they can work together to achieve rapid educational transformation. We strive for each of our partner academies to become a centre of excellence and believe that they can achieve this through collaboration in closely linked small groups within the charity organisation structure to share support, resources and talents. We believe that it is essential these small hubs are led and mentored by successful professional leaders in education who are grounded in the day-to-day reality of effective educational improvement.
“Every child must understand the importance of education & innovation, and how various products are developed through high quality learning experiences, sharing knowledge, igniting curiosity and broadening horizons”.
Key values to create an impact
Working in education, we have the ability to profoundly change children’s lives. With such high stakes, our organisations are always prepared to provide children with the same standards that each member of staff would want for their own children.
Every member of staff in our organisations have a personal responsibility to be positive and supportive of each other. This leads to high expectation and a culture where excuses are not tolerated. Everyone is accountable. Everyone must take responsibility.
As conveyed by the organisation’s motto, “High Educational Aspiration & Awareness Realises Innovation & Talent”, every person within our organisations, whether staff or children, should consistently aim for excellence in their individual roles.
Staff must be prepared to go the extra mile to provide the best possible education for our children. The interests of children are always placed ahead of those of staff.
Innovation and Development
We believe that children’s learning will be enhanced when leaders and staff evaluate their own performance and are committed to the professional development of themselves and others. This will include organisations keeping abreast of educational research into effective teaching and learning, and continually improving the educational experience of their children.
Some of the projects:
Raj Women’s Program – the program focusses on women development, empowerment and talent enablement. We provide education support, career guidance and family maintenance.
Raj Scholarships – the scholarships are mainly focussed on young women students, but we also provide support to young men students who are in dire need to support themselves with the school/college fees.
Raj Learn4Free Program – the Learn4Free Program targets students and families who cannot afford to pay school/training fees. We provide training in the latest technologies and various tech-driven subjects.
Q4. What is essential to get success for any NGO?
First, socio development model must have a right value, an ethos, and the most important thing is empowerment and enablement. The services/programs/projects should be ready to go to the underprivilege people. These are the clear indication that founders of the NGO must have thought about the social entrepreneurship.
- Go Beyond Mission/Vision to Value. By all means, start with a clear and powerful mission & vision statement, but quickly move to your value proposition.
- Revenue should not be the goal for any NGO. Student, parent & college satisfaction plays a critical role to create a value in the society.
- Thinking like an Entrepreneur is fine but focus on social development.
- Sharpen Your Socio-emotional Skills.
- Strong Collaboration skills is very much needed.
- Develop a niche service by going beyond obvious programmes.
Q5. What do you think is most essential in shaping a Young Generation future?
There are several essential points to be considered in shaping a Young Generation future. Some of them are:
- Students must develop ability to make decisions on their own and develop a dynamic personality
- Must be Pragmatic in their thinking and approach
- Person-centred thinking and approaches must be learnt
- Students must understand the importance of networking & team/peer working
- The importance of resilience, community and family support is highly essential
- Every parent/teacher must ensure that a child is at the centre of thinking and planning, and that they should have choice and control over their future
- The wealth of opportunities within local communities, leading to cost-effective ways of meeting outcomes must be planned efficiently.
- Students must strengthen core life skills.
- Government must aim to reduce sources of stress in the lives of children and families.
There are many levels at which social entrepreneurship for shaping a young generation future can and should be encouraged. At its essence, the goal is to help build a society in which many, many students have the confidence, skill and desire to solve problems they see around them.
There are many ways to improve the education system so that young people have experiences that build these qualities, and give them a sense of agency, a sense of their own power connected to an ethical framework. I would argue that this should be one of the fundamental goals of education and building a young generation future.
We could build into the curriculum of every school and college such experiences. We could use our powerful media to make the field of social entrepreneurship more visible to support young generation.
Q6. What do you think are the emerging Educational sectors in 2021?
AI with IoT – to assess and analyse student performance, behaviour and characteristics based on the tasks, assessments, assignments, projects and exams.
Virtual, Augmented & Extended Reality with IoT – to enhance student learning and engagement with the naïve subjects/courses.
Blockchain with IoT – with the help of the school/college’s own cryptocurrency, students can get a wide array of opportunities to explore Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technology.
Q7. Please share Best moments in your social entrepreneurial journey:
The best moment for me is this year, as we were interviewed by the media people and several articles were published about our contribution to the development of students during this pandemic. We groomed students to identify problems that the community is facing – this led students to develop several mobile applications, face masks, face shields, sanitizers, touch-free systems, ventilators and virus test kits.
Memorable moments in the non-profit organisations can be triggered by various causes. Some have a positive vibe, while others are a bit more challenging. Nonetheless, they are all great experiences to learn from. Reaching a milestone or making the best out of an unexpected situation, will definitely be worth remembering for the years that are about to come.
Q8. What new strategies have you come up with during these Pandemic time and your plans ahead to steer to success ?
Just-in-time development – To tackle this pandemic, we trained & mentored students to develop various prototypes that can be turned into products. We will continue to mentor students where they will be part of deployment & Go-to-Market strategies.
Build core competency – Widespread connectivity will help us to focus on what we aim to do best, while partnering with other charitable organisations and sponsors to fill in the gaps during this pandemic.
Open education plans – Since education has become screen-centric, we have come up with technology-enabled learning programs with socio-emotional skills – innovative pedagogic approaches which will help students to understand real-world requirements to face the world bravely and confidently.
We have already started working on our Vision 2025. Our goal is to focus on “Talent Enablement” and I envision to see a complete educational transformation in India. The objectives we are focussing are:
- Personalised & Bespoke classrooms: Towards more personalised learning in multicultural environments and towards stronger integration and use of external learning opportunities.
- Socio-Emotional Education System: we emphasize that formal education and training must become reintegrated into society by better aligning learning objectives with societal reality and labour market requirements.
- Tech-enabled Learning: Tailor-made learning experiences fostering quality and equity using the latest & innovative technologies.
- Future careers: Increased professional flexibility, flatter hierarchies and open knowledge exchange between leaders, experts and students
- Training strategies: Recognition of informally acquired skills through the use of Make in India, Digital India & Startup India initiatives.
Through these objectives, I envision to play a major role in reaching out to several schools, colleges and universities across India to introduce students to various disruptive technologies and innovative courses.