Archive - May 2014

Social Businesses With A Twist

There are entrepreneurs and then there are creative entrepreneurs, people who have brought about a social change while creating a profitable business. Young and innovative, they take the cause seriously and the means, not so much.

This exciting article by Fast Company spotlights seven engaging enterprises that treat serious social business in a fun manner. From clean water ATMs to making electricity-generating toilets, these under-35 entrepreneurs are changing the world.

Read the Fast Company article to see how Simon Griffiths is raising money on a crowdfunding platform to improve sanitation in developing nations, how Sebastian Lindstrom is travelling the world to document other people’s social work and much more.

Excerpt:

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Anand Shah’s company Sarvajal is working to bring clean water to India. But it’s not just giving it away. Instead, it’s creating a network of water entrepreneurs, giving each a clean water franchise to run. Each of these franchisees sets up ‘water ATMs’, where rural Indians can go and see their water being purified and bottled.

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Engineers at Cal Tech, including Asghar Aryanfar, have – at the urging of the Gates Foundation – created a new toilet for the developing world that will help stop disease and also generate power, even in the most remote locations.

Simon Griffiths, Jehan Ratnatunga, and Danny Alexander make toilet paper. But it’s toilet paper with a mission. Who Gives A Crap TP is a buy-one, give-one form of bathroom hygiene. Buy their product – funded on Indiegogo through a stunt where Griffiths sat on a toilet until the company reached its goal – and money goes toward helping clean up sanitation in the developing world.

 

Read the article in its entirety here

He’s Got The Power!

vikas gawda with flag

Vikas Gowda is one of four Olympic medal aspirants who, with the support of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), is campaigning on Ketto to raise funds and compete with  his international counterparts. 

The 6-feet-9-inches-tall Vikas Gowda has several feathers in his cap – a Major in Mathematics from the University of North Carolina, a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, a national record and an eighth finish at the 2012 London Olympics. With an already luminous career, this 31-year-old discus thrower and shot putter is all set to make India proud at the upcoming Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

You were the first Indian to ever enter the finals of a throwing event in the Olympics. How does that feel?

It feels good. I work hard and there is a lot that I want to accomplish.

You are a Mathematics Major from the University of North Carolina. How did you balance your time between academics and sports?

When I was in school it was tough to manage time. You have to prioritize and make sacrifices so you can succeed in both academics and sports.

How were you introduced to this sport?

My father introduced me to sports. He was a decathlete and national coach in India. I would go practice with him when I was a kid and that’s how I started.

Walk us through your training regimen.

I throw three to four times a week. I also lift weights, do sprints and plyometrics. There’s a lot of work that goes into preparing for the season.

How many hours a day do you have to practice?

I train a minimum of four hours a day but most days are about six hours.

What are the costs associated with your training?

There are a lot of costs associated with my training. Coaching, training equipment, access to facilities, supplements, proper diet, travel, medical, and rehabilitation require a lot of funds.

How would you compare the standard of training in India and that which is available abroad?

The standards in India are improving. Around the world it is very easy to access good training facilities. India has good facilities but not very many. When I was a kid growing up in Maryland, there were so many tracks and tennis courts, basketball courts, and other sports facilities within a ten-minute drive of my house.

What has been your biggest achievement yet?

I think my silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, making it to the finals at the London Olympics and winning gold at the Asian Championships in India are my biggest accomplishments.

How is crowdfunding important to you and other rising athletes?

It is very important. It shows the athlete that people care and want you to succeed. It’s going to help me bring my coach with me to Commonwealth and Asian Games.

Explain OGQ’s role in your life and career.

OGQ has played a very important role in my career. They believed in me when no one else did. Without them I don’t know if I would have reached this level.

What systems, structures and establishments do we need in India to give Indian athletes a better chance at winning at the Olympics?

I think the most important thing that can be done is making access to facilities easier. That will increase the talent pool and give India a better chance of winning medals in the Olympics.

Vikas-Gowda with gold

Changing The Face Of Indian Sports

Ours is a cricket-loving nation. That is indubitable. The past few years may have seen football gradually getting its foot in the door (pardon the pun), but in terms of mass appeal and interest, that’s where the buck stops. The field of Indian sports has rather narrow parameters today. The amount of support – financial and otherwise – is gravely lacking when it comes to athletic sports and games.

Interestingly, even the craze for cricket seems reserved only for the national- and international-level competitions. State and college-level competitions don’t get much backing nor spectator interest. Where there are lakhs being spent on televising international competitions, with investments in multiple high-tech cameras and whatnots, state level competitions see a miniscule percentage of financial backing and very poor media coverage.

On one end of the spectrum is the advent of the IPL, which gave cricket furor a whole new glamorous dimension.  And at the other end of the spectrum is our ‘national sport’ hockey, which sadly gets played to near-empty stands. It is unsurprising then that Olympic track and field sports such as shot put, javelin throw, discus throw and others like speed walking, luge and air rifle shooting have little backing and still lesser audiences. Even major sporting events like the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics generate meagre levels of interest among sports enthusiasts in India.

It is a sobering truth that Olympic medal aspirants who are immensely talented are struggling to match international levels of competence because they don’t have the kind of facilities and infrastructure their foreign counterparts enjoy. Athletes like Shiva Keshavan (luger), KT Irfan (speed walker), Vikas Gawda (discus thrower), Pooja Ghatkar and Ayonika Paul (air rifle shooters) were lucky to have the NGO Olympic Gold Quest supporting them, helping them get the training and equipment they sorely needed to prepare for the  competitions.

It is a crying shame that KT Irfan initially trained without a proper pair of shoes because he couldn’t afford them. Today, this athlete – who is also an army man – is a national-record holder. Pooja Ghatkar made the daring decision to pursue rifle shooting over a mainstream career, even though she knew funds would be a constant struggle for her. She won the gold medal at the Asian Air Gun Championship in Kuwait this March, amongst other successes. Ayonika Paul, an incredibly disciplined athlete, realised she couldn’t ask her parents to fund her sporting career. Today, she has won multiple medals in the Senior National Championships.

These successes and future ones are India’s for the taking. All Indian sports needs is for us to believe in it. All our athletes need is for us to believe in them. The way Olympic Gold Quest has. The way Ketto has. They way you can. Fuel their journey to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Support these amazing athletes and pave a path for a brighter future for Indian sports.

Ketto’s initiative for Indian Sports: http://ogq.ketto.org

Donations can be made here:

Pooja Ghatkar: http://ogq.ketto.org/campaign/campaign_details.php?fmd_id=89#.U4WEFJSSxF0

Ayonika Paul: http://ogq.ketto.org/campaign/campaign_details.php?fmd_id=94#.U4WD_ZSSxF0

KT Irfan: http://ogq.ketto.org/campaign/campaign_details.php?fmd_id=93#.U4XFKZSSxF0

Vikas Gowda: http://ogq.ketto.org/campaign/campaign_details.php?fmd_id=92#.U4XFLpSSxF0

Thank You!

Team Ketto

Ace Shooter Hits Bull’s-Eye

AP

Ayonika Paul is one of four Olympic medal aspirants who, under the wing of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), is campaigning on Ketto to raise funds to compete with  her international counterparts.  Learn more about the ace shooter in this in-depth interview.

Ayonika Paul is a young and talented 22-year-old rifle shooter who has represented India in many international tournaments. She made her mark globally in 2008 when she won the gold medal in the International Junior Shooting Competition in Munich.

A complete all-rounder, Paul is also studying engineering in Bombay and is equally committed to sports and academics. She has won several medals in the Juniors category over the years and today she is a serious threat in the Seniors league with her consistently excellent performance. With her fierce dedication and determination, you can trust this woman to shoot a bullet right through the competition.

In this exclusive interview with Ketto, Paul speaks to us about her journey, how she balances her time between sports and academics and what she requires to make India proud at the next Commonwealth Games.

How were you introduced to this sport?

Summer holidays for me were about lazing around and also exploring different sports and arts. I indulged in many different sports like basketball, water-polo, skating and dancing, whereas swimming was a regular activity. However, when I heard about shooting I was thrilled because guns had always fascinated me. In my first inter-school competition, I scored 144 in open sight, and over time, the sport took me over. I couldn’t get enough and wanted to shoot regularly.

You are only 22 and you have achieved so much. How do you balance studies and play?

I have a good sense of time. Since I was a child, my mother would tell me that I need to first complete my studies and only then would I be allowed to go for my training. Even now that discipline works for me. Whenever I study, I am fully focused and the same applies to shooting. I carry my books during all my tournaments. I believe in quality over quantity and enjoy whatever I do each moment.

Walk us through your training regimen.

4 AM: Wake up

4.15 AM-7 AM: Study

7 AM: Breakfast

7 AM-9 AM: Nap

9.15 AM: Yoga

10 AM-1 PM: Training

1.15 PM: Lunch and Rest

2.30 PM-4 PM: Training

6 PM-7.30 PM: Swimming or Gymming and Stretching

8.30 PM: Dinner

10 PM: Sleep

How many hours a day do you  practice?

Four and a half to five hours a day.

What are the costs associated with your training?

My shooting jacket and trousers cost approximately Rs. 70,000. Shooting shoes cost Rs. 18,000. Weapons are  Rs.1,70,000. I also incur additional costs for physiotherapists and sports psychologists.
How would you compare the standard of training in India and that which is available abroad?

The past world champions and record holders are now into coaching and sharing their ideas and experiences. There is a path that they have found and they’re open to new ideas and experiments. They know how and when to peak. There is research and development on sports science, which is yet to be developed in India.

How is crowdfunding important to you and other rising athletes?

Individual sport is still not a recognized area. It is motivating for all athletes around the world to learn that our Olympic dreams are being supported by a number of people in our country. It boosts my confidence to train harder as I can go abroad for a longer training period and play more matches and leagues, thus taking me closer to the six coveted grams of gold.

Explain OGQ’s role in your life and career.

Whenever I wanted something in shooting, I asked my parents. But I realised that training under the best coaches and mental training would be too expensive. Even though I felt the need, I couldn’t ask them to fund it. OGQ has given me this opportunity. I have to walk this path to reach my destination and OGQ is the light to guide me along this journey. They have provided me with a sports psychologist and world-class physiotherapist, which is essential for me.

What systems, structures and establishments do we need in India to give Indian athletes a better chance at winning at the Olympics?

Good planning, research and development and strong belief in our athletes.

Want to help Ayonika realise her dream and bring home a medal for India? Support here!

Ketto: The Beginning

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Read the inspiring article on Ketto founders Kunal Kapoor and Varun Sheth by YourStory, a website profiling exciting entrepreneurs and start-ups in India and abroad. Learn about the beginnings of the duo’s partnership at Ketto. And what actor and activist Shabana Azmi thinks about our crowdfunding  site!

Excerpt:

With the growing influence of social media and the internet in a fast-growing, young Indian population, actor Kunal Kapoor has launched Ketto along with Varun Seth, a first-time entrepreneur. Ketto is an online ‘giving’ platform where you can start giving with as little as Rs 100. Kunal, with the help of his friends and his agency Kwan Foundation, looks to bring individuals and corporates from all fields together to support their favorite causes, bringing the ‘fun’ to fundraising. Varun has previously worked for social causes and is very much clued into the area as well.

Ketto was launched on Aug 15th, 2012 and is looking to partner with multiple brands to raise funds for the 20+ charities listed on its platform. Most recently, Ketto has partnered with Mijwan Welfare Society, an NGO run by Shabana Azmi for women’s empowerment, as well as Ogaan Cancer Foundation’s initiative for Breast Cancer Awareness. They haven’t been aggressive on promotion till now but will be aggressive now and will try and raise around INR 80 lakhs in the coming year.

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Talking about Mijwan’s alignment with Ketto, Shabana Azmi says, “Earlier, Mijwan Welfare Society did not have access to raise funds online, but with the growing influence of the internet, we felt it was the right time to get on. We wanted to reach out to the youth and the mass at large and raising funds online is a part of it. Ketto has provided a platform for Mijwan and other NGOs to raise funds from all over the world in an easy and safe way. I am certain this is the way forward.”

Read the article in its entirety here.

Shooting For The Stars

Pooja-Ghatkar

Pooja Ghatkar is one of four Olympic medal aspirants who, with the support of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), is campaigning on Ketto to raise funds and compete with  her international counterparts.  

Pooja Ghatkar, a 25-year-old air rifle shooter, created history this March after clinching gold at the Asian Air Gun Championship in Kuwait by defeating world champions Yi Siling and Du Bei of China.

Ghatkar has proven her talent at various international tournaments  sports and plans to continue to shine at the international circuit in the upcoming World Cup competitions in Germany and Slovakia.

How were you introduced to this sport?

During my school days I started training under the National Cadet Corps as an extra activity. The main purpose behind this was to remain physically active. While going through the NCC camps, I was selected for the All India Thal Sainik Camp, Delhi, where I won a gold medal in the juniors category. But since I needed to focus on my academics at that point of time, I had to give up shooting. It was my mother’s belief and will that got me back into training for shooting again.

What is it like being a woman in a sport so closely associated with men?

For me, any sport is a sport, irrespective of whether the competitor is a man or a woman. Both require equal levels of stamina, hard work and concentration to excel. It is our mind which sets up these differences. In fact, I think shooting is more woman-oriented.  If we check the participation levels in shooting matches, the number of women participants is far more than men. The best part of shooting is that there is no age bar for competing. Everyone can enjoy the sport.

How many hours a day do you have to practice?

My training depends on my annual competition schedule.  Generally during a non-competition period I train for about 5-6 hours daily, which gradually increases as a match approaches.

What are the costs associated with your training?

Shooting is one of the most expensive of the sports. I am a rifle shooter and my basic requirements like rifle and shooting kit (jacket & trouser, shoes) cost around Rs 300,000. For my daily training, I need quality pellets to shoot, which cost Rs 900 for a tin with 500 pellets. In a year, I need approximately 80 pellet tins for training and matches.

I am also training under world record-holder Thomas Farnik. A seven-day training camp under him costs approximately Rs 300,000-350,000. These are a few important costs associated with my training.

How would you compare the standard of training in India to that which is available abroad?

India is still at a developing stage as compared to other marksman countries. The main drawback in India is the lack of quality Indian coaches.  A coach plays a very important role in any athlete’s life. If we look at China, we find that each athlete has his or her own team, which includes a personal coach, physical trainer, mental trainer, doctor and nutritionist who work with them. All these people plan a perfect routine for the athlete.  They consider each and every small aspect that can help the athlete improve. Such team work is not found in India. Every athlete needs good support and qualified people to show them the right way and to help them understand themselves better.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

After wining various domestic and international competitions, my biggest achievement was winning the gold medal at the Asian Airgun Championship, Kuwait in March 2014 by defeating the World No. 1 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist.

How is crowdfunding important to you and other rising athletes?

According to me, crowdfunding is one of the best ways in which an athlete is helped to conquer his or her dreams through the common man.  People are able to know the athlete not after he or she wins an Olympic medal but before, and are able to help them on their road to success.  Crowdfunding will boost my confidence as people’s support and blessings are very precious to me. Indirectly, it shows the trust people have in an athlete. So the dream of an athlete doesn’t remain only to himself or herself but it is shared and becomes the dream of all Indians.

Explain OGQ’s role in your life and career.

The difference in me before and after becoming a part of OGQ is vast.  OGQ is like a strong ladder which is helping me climb each step firmly towards my goal. After OGQ offered to support me,  everything changed. I received proper technique and physical and mental approach towards shooting. OGQ has supported me in acquiring my new rifle, pellets, shooting kit and other small requirements. The team has helped me in participating in international invitation matches which helped me gain international exposure.  It was because of OGQ that I was able to train abroad under the world’s best coach. OGQ is like a family, which is always there to support you in times of need, push you when you feel low, drag you up when you are falling back and always be with you in each loss and win.

 

Want to be part of Pooja’s dream to bring laurels to India? Support her!