Interview with IMI

Happy Sunday everyone (or Monday for our international readers)! I’m here with a short excerpt from an interview I had with Aakriti Shroff, the team leader of Indian Mobile Initiative (IMI). They’re really beating out the competition with over 1,000 votes. Read below for some thoughts on how they’re getting their votes, what they want to do with the money, and why they think their cause is awesome! I want to thank Aakriti for her responses and her excitement! It’s amazing how passionate they (and all the other teams are) about the work they’re doing. And keep reading next week for another update, another team interview, and excerpts from an interview with a special MIT150 guest!

1. How awesome is it to be in first place? What are your thoughts about your standing right now? What number do you hope to reach in the next couple weeks?

We feel on top of the world! We had received tremendous support from the students in Indian colleges we had contacted and were hoping that this would carry on to the Community Votes. [We] were expecting a decent number of votes from these students, but touching a 1000+ votes was unbelievable. After Lars’ email regarding collaboration on voters (each having 5 votes), we were asked by several teams to request some of our voters to review their team profiles and vote for them.

The truth is, most of our votes are coming from students who have heard about IMI through their colleges. They are aware of our program, and the IMI team does not personally know them! Such support drives our passion to work harder to achieve our goals more effectively.

As for our standings, we can’t say much. As was pointed out to us, there are 8000 registered users on the GC/Ideas Challenge. They’ve got to vote for someone! There’s a week left and the competition could change completely. We really hope that our numbers grow accordingly! If things go on just the way they are, we hope to reach 1400+ voted before voting closes on the 25th of April. We’re keeping our fingers crossed..

2. Why is the problem you’re addressing integral?

When service projects are undertaken, very few of them actually focus on “inclusive innovation”, helping the society build its skills. This is the core of IMI. We were alarmed to discover that even after the recent momentum built on social entrepreneurship around the world, academic institutions have very little framework in place to encourage social entrepreneurship. Most institutions propagate service, not social entrepreneurship. We decided to tackle this problem.

If we succeed in inspiring the youth to become social entrepreneurs, the impact we have on the society increases exponentially.

Instead of solving the problem for a community (generally done from a third person perspective), or even teaching the community to solve a particular problem, we are approaching the future of the country – educated college students and helping them discover the power of the knowledge they already have.

3. What have you done on your project already?

IMI has confirmed the participation of approximately 500 students for the longer five-week program and shorter mobile boot camps. This was a key milestone for our team. We have confirmed the support of participating universities and taken care of most of the logistical details. The team is now concentrating on improving the structure of the course, the activities and modules in the program, and the resources that the students have access to. We have started contacting participating students and inspiring them to interact with their peers. We hope to get the momentum going even before we reach India! Additionally, the team is trying to build a nexus around the Global Challenge/Ideas Challenge platform. Participating in the challenge has opened a plethora of opportunities for us and we are trying to utilize this network in the best way we can to give our students access to more mentors and resources.

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