Fellow Q&A with Aneesh Kulkarni & Ishita Gupta, Co-Founders of Project Alphabet

Please introduce yourself and what led you to the Resolution Project 

Aneesh: Hello! My name is Aneesh and I am 21 years old! A 4th-year student at NMIMS University, Mumbai. I am currently pursuing a  dual degree course in Engineering and MBA. I have a growing interest in motorsports like Formula1 and am also an avid Cricket fan. My professional interests lie in the Data and Analytics domain and I intend to pursue my career in the same! 

Ishita: Hi! I am Ishita and I am currently a final year student at NMIMS University, Mumbai. I am pursuing my major in Data Science and am particularly interested in the domains of Computer Vision and Machine Learning. In the future, I hope to get more involved in the healthcare space and make an impact in that space!

We got to know about Resolution Project via the seniors at our University. We were impressed by the efforts they had put in to winning the Social Venture Challenge and were aspired to emulate the same feat. As we learned more about Resolution Project, we were absolutely blown away by the work it does to develop socially responsible young leaders and help them make a difference in their countries. It is an absolute honor for us to be a part of the community.

Please introduce your venture

Project Alphabet is a social venture that aims to generate awareness around special education in India. We place an emphasis on learning disabilities whilst developing a platform to facilitate a smooth dialogue between special educators and special children. 

Keeping in sync with its name, the venture’s model is based on the first three letters of the English alphabet. A stands for Awareness, B stands for Bridging the gap, and C stands for Collaborate. 

How have you been adapting to the circumstances of the pandemic? 

The onset of the pandemic had every organization in this world pivoting their normal operations and molding themselves in remote working modes. Project Alphabet was no different. We did not let the lack of in-person meetings affect our motivation to bring change. 

Pivoting from our original plan of having in-person workshops for professionals, we conducted online workshops for special education professionals across India and it turned out to be a huge success. The entire exercise taught us the importance of being flexible and proactive to the changes in our domain. We also decided to list professionals who are willing to provide their services remotely so that we can help more people who we could not have otherwise accessed online. It helped us broaden our scope and work on ideas we otherwise would have been apprehensive of pursuing.

What role do young leaders play in the world today? 

We believe that every young person in the world is a leader in their own right. Young leaders are now actively involved in working towards the changes they want to see in the coming years, which is a very encouraging sign. This generation does not stop at identifying problem areas but also works collaboratively toward solutions. Resolution Project enables this process to be extremely seamless. Their efforts to match young leaders with seasoned mentors aid in the amalgamation of youthful exuberance and long-standing experience that has stood the test of time. We believe that every person in the world is a ‘young leader’ if they have empathy and their ideas are young enough to make the world a better place to live. 

What inspired you to start your social entrepreneurship journey? 

Project Alphabet found its roots in a general discussion between the co-founders about the education system of India. This sparked a further discussion about how both of us had been writers to assist kids with disabilities in school. We talked about our experience, how it changed our perception of the domain, and how we thought there was scope for changing views and creating positive change. We approached some teachers working in the domain, understood the exact challenges, and came to the conclusion that we could make a difference. And thus, Project Alphabet was born.

What has been your biggest challenge in founding your social venture and how have you overcome this?

Effective Time Management! As university students, it is important for us to strike a fair balance between academics and the venture and ensure that both of them are carried out to the best of our abilities.  There are days when there are too many things happening at the same time and it becomes a task to keep everything on track. But it helps to keep our goals in mind and continue persisting no matter what.

What advice would you give to other young leaders who are looking to start their first social venture? 

We would first like to congratulate anyone who has considered becoming a social entrepreneur, regardless of whether they have a plan in place. Because empathy is the most important quality required to begin a social venture. It is a quality that cannot be taught but must be innate. As a social entrepreneur, you must be aware of what is actually required in your field of expertise. It is about prioritizing the domain’s interests over your personal biases and preferences. It is critical that you collaborate with the identified stakeholders in your domain on a regular basis and keep them up to date on the ideas you are developing. Keep your stakeholders in mind and shape your ideas around the feedback they provide.

Can you speak on how your venture has impacted those who you’ve aimed to serve? How has Resolution contributed to this impact? 

The venture targets the special education community as a whole and Project Alphabet is proud of the strong network of teachers and organizations that it has managed to create, in an attempt to foster both awareness and accessibility. We have also managed to conduct nationwide sessions for special educators to promote understanding and enable easy exchange of information. As a budding venture, we have a long way to creating change ahead of us!

We attribute a huge chunk of our progress to Resolution Project. The unwavering trust in our venture, combined with the numerous resources provided to us—guides who are extremely helpful and willing to listen, seed funding, and access to the Resolution network—are all invaluable. We are beyond grateful to Resolution for believing in Project Alphabet!