Thursday, November 26, 2009

AYZH and Ears on TEDIndia

The following guest post is from Zubaida Bai, a graduate student in Colorado State's Global Social & Sustainable Enterprise program and TEDIndia fellow. She is hard at work launching her social enterprise, AYZH (link below) and is definitely a BOPreneur-in-training. I have no doubt that with her vision and passion, she will have a lifetime of impact. Here are her reflections on her time at TEDIndia.

It has now been a week after TEDIndia and I am still trying to absorb the impact of my experience. I met entrepreneurs who were distinctive horizontally as well as vertically on the business spectrum; a Chef, a race car designer, a monkey explorer, a humorous website designer, a blogger, a health worker, an artist, a film maker, a chief ethical officer… the list is endless. As I stood admiring this exceptional group of individuals, I was unaware that among this cream of the crop, were two individuals whose work would touch me the most; Sunitha Krishnan, a woman who has dedicated her life to saving young girls from the terror of Human Trafficking in India and Babar Ali, a 16 year old headmaster running a school without walls for over 2000 children in Bangladesh.

The first impression on arriving at the Infosys Campus was of awe as we passed walked through a myriad of architecture from around the world. As I sat in my room late that night going through the day’s events, I realized the artificial atmosphere such landscapes created and how easy it was to get carried away. That night, I made a decision of not letting this atmosphere sway me but learn from it and enhance my experience as I interact with such a large gathering of amazing individuals over the next 3 days.

Within the first hour of the next morning as I went about meeting new people, I knew I had made the right decision of leaving my assumptions and inhibitions behind. Each interaction demonstrated a unique effort at making the world a better place precious for life. As the day progressed, on one side I was humbled beyond words with each contact I made on the other side I saw these individuals were so very similar to me, driven by their desire, energy and passion to make a difference to a burning need in the world.

The TED experience reinforced my belief, that what matters is not how big or small your contribution is to the problems around the world. The key is to identify these problems and make an effort to solve these problems. With AYZH – Technology Solutions for Women, I have begun to tread the path of empowering women through affordable health and livelihood products. I am supported my expectional individuals and entities in India and USA in this initiative and together I am sure we CAN and WILL make our contribution.

I have to admit that I once felt "how silly is it to spend $2500 for a conference and watch a talk in person which you can watch online for free?" But I realized this is what makes a life changing TEDific experience. If and when I can afford, I would most certainly make the investment of time and money to go to many more TED conferences.

I have been talking about all good things. Yes, there are dark sides too but the bright ones cover it up and I bet I won’t even remember the negatives. I am in a sense missing the endless days, starting at 7 am with exchanges about ‘this is what I do’ and ending with informal late night interactions about ‘this is who I am’.

Finally, it was also great to hear from C. K. Prahalad talk about “learning disabilities” of organizations and from Thulasiraj Ravilla about Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology after having learnt about them at GSSE. It was also exciting to see the GSSE theme echoing throughout the conference of making social businesses sustainable and viable.

Bonus Pack: My two "must watch" picks for TED Talks: Hans Rosling and Sunitha Krishnan.

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