Born and brought up in a middle-class Punjabi family in Delhi, Aashish Beergi had a humble upbringing. But what was different in this child, was his zest and passion for doing something different. His sensitivity towards social causes came in at a young age and thus his journey to become a serial social entrepreneur started early. A school assignment on waste management led him to work on waste management venture, which is currently one of the finest models of waste managment in India. The seed of change-making and entrepreneurship which was sowed in him during school, led him to start an unique social venture called MASH Project which is now revolutionising the field of social entrepreneurship in India.
The thought came to him amid an UNESCO youth gathering in Paris, which brought young changemakers from around the world, under a common platform to facilitate changemaking and collaboration. During his discussions with other fellows, he learnt that a great deal of his companions wished to volunteer for social causes, however they did not get an appropriate platform to do so. This got him thinking and Aashish effectively framed these arrangements to fabricate a stage where individuals could be present in any possible place on the planet but then volunteer their time and aptitudes for some cause.
Coincidentally, around the same time, UNESCO launched a program called Youth Mobile which focused on platforms using world-wide online networking to assemble individuals over critical issues. Connecting the dots with the initial idea, Aashish finally got together with Kartik Jain, a high school companion, and the duo finally decided to create an ecosystem and platform to push technological innovations towards making a positive social change in the society. This marked the inception of MASH Project (Mobile Application for Sustainable Habitat). The platform soon took an alternate bearing, and MASH turned into a stage dedicated to elevating innovation to help in social business enterprise, or in other words, social entrepreneurship.
The greatest highlight of MASH Project is its flagship program called Nexus. Nexus provides a bridge between social enterprises who face various challenges with their projects by connecting them to the community of experts, mentors and service providers who help them to overcome those challenges. They not only provide help for technology-based solutions (Mobile & Web), but also help startups with Communication solutions, Social media & design, Legal support and Fundraising. According to Aashish, there are many tech associations and specialists who are prepared to invest time and effort and render the valuable services to social ventures and startups.
Not only this, MASH also conducts offline workshops across the country. Two of their flagships events are MASH Mixers and MASH Makers. MASH Mixers are get-togethers for like-minded individuals to meet up and share thoughts around a specific cause. Ashish also elucidates that these occasions are held abroad as well, and every one works on a particular subject. There are one-on-one interactions which are generally absent on other platforms. The MASH-Makers are different skill-specific workshops for young social entrepreneurs who need training in specific areas like fundraising, design thinking, impact assessment and evaluation, and so on. Then there are special events, in partnership with other organizations, based on very critical issues like a climate change and many more. These events are generally very customised and specific in their aim and format.
“With pressence in 6 major cities of India, We’ve had over 300 young people work with MASH in the last three years and many of them have developed an interest to continue working in the social enterprise sector. As many as, over ten thousand people have benefitted from these programs,” says Aashish. The volunteers are managed by a small full-time executive team, 2 Directors – Akshit Jain and Swastic Yaduvanshi. From youth in urban metropolitan cities to the youth, from the underdeveloped, marginalised sections of UP and Bihar, have downloaded mobile apps made by MASH Project to learn more about stand-alone ventures. Whether it is securing the benefits of working in the social sector, or starting your own organisation that is the basic aim of every MASH Mixer, MASH reaches out to support the future social entrepreneurs of the country in every possible way. Aashish has spoken about promoting leadership in social entrepreneurship among young people in over 50 colleges.
PARTHABI KANUNGO & DEBARATI CHOUDHURY | TOC
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