Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Sunanda Mane was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Sunanda’s vision is to foster rural development by empowering rural youth to develop life skills and create local opportunities. To achieve this, she leverages local resources to contextualize education imparted to the rural environment and spur entrepreneurship in high schools.

Sunanda believes that experiential learning during a person’s formative years plays an important role in inspiring and nurturing entrepreneurial skills. Specifically in the rural context, she sees such skills as critical factors to enable youth to create their own opportunities. By targeting high school students between the ages of 14 and 17, she enables them to explore potential careers and livelihood options that address their interests and aptitudes.

While working to develop entrepreneurial skills and qualities in students, Sunanda seeks to ensure that young people remain locally connected. Toward this end, she trains local micro-entrepreneurs to act as role models and become instructors in schools to train students. This helps students remain engaged in a variety of local opportunities, such as basic engineering, agriculture, animal husbandry, health, and energy. In return, apart from monetary incentives, these micro-entrepreneurs are trained to use the latest technology while availing opportunities to undertake additional work orders from the community and access networks to help expand their businesses.

Sunanda has convinced over sixty government-aided schools in rural India to adopt her program by aligning her strategy with their interests and has obtained formal recognition from the Government of Maharashtra. As a result, the program appears as part of the transcript of a high school certificate; a full-credit course that has been recommended by the state government to be implemented across the state.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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