- Name: Sameer Segal
- Age: 22
- Country: India
- Company: Social venture
- Focus: Education
- Website: www.e4si.org
I am an entrepreneur because that’s the most responsible thing to do!
A big achievement of each individual is to find out what one really wants in life, what areas to focus all his energy and what desired outcome to create. Sometimes we do what our parents have done, because that’s just the way we think things are supposed to be. Sameer found his true calling during a summer internship and is now working towards enabling more students to find their calling.
About MeAs a little boy I played with magnets and Lego kits and listened to my father’s stories about working with Tech giants like HP and IBM, so that naturally I soon became interested in computers and programming. I found, very early on at school, that I had an enormous aptitude for science and this, along with the fact that my father and all my uncles were engineers, made me believe that I wanted to be an engineer too. I gained admission to the National Institute of Technology – Karnataka (NITK), one of India’s premier engineering colleges, and accepted in a heartbeat.
Once at college, however, I found myself quite bored academically and it was in the extracurricular activities I took up that I found a real challenge and my entrepreneurial skills began to emerge and flourish. Overwhelmed by the effects of India’s fast bifurcating economy that I could see in Bangalore City around me and disappointed with NITK’s purely academic courses, I started thinking “What’s the point of all of this?” And it was just then that I came across the Engineers for Social Impact (E4SI) Fellowship which was working, in its very first edition, to connect undergraduate engineers from top colleges to for profit social enterprises working on development issues.
Through E4SI, I had the opportunity to work with Ujjivan Microfinance, Bangalore, the summer after my Junior year of college. After my own fulfilling summer immersion experience at Ujjivan Microfinance as a founding fellow of E4SI, I decided to join Nitin Rao who had run the first edition of the fellowship program to found E4SI and scale it into a complete model. Since then we have scaled the fellowship from 4 Fellows and 4 social enterprise partners the first summer to 28 Fellows and 10 social enterprise partners in its second edition with the addition of a two day intensive conference on social entrepreneurship in the Indian context.
Engineers for Social Impact' (E4SI – http://www.e4si.org) is a unique fellowship program that connects top engineering talent to credible social enterprises driving market-based solutions to development in India. E4SI aims to identify, develop and support tomorrows social entrepreneurs today
The summer of my sophomore year I interned at Texas Instruments (TI). Going into the internship, it was a dream come true for me as an Electrical Engineer. But at the end of the summer, I was thoroughly disappointed! I found the internship to have limited scope for impact. I vowed to look for a different internship next summer. After reading Mohammad Yunus’ “Banker to the Poor”, I was intrigued by the microfinance model and wanted to try my hand at it but I had questions: Which organization do I approach? Will this be worth my time? Will my university recognize this internship?
Around this time, I heard about an idea from my friend and senior, Nitin Rao – Engineers for Social Impact. I really liked the idea and decided to apply for the Fellowship, which was then a in its pilot stage. I found my summer immersion experience as an E4SI Fellow at Ujjivan extremely rewarding and satisfying. My work had a profound impact on the company’s operations and the social impact was very tangible. The experience changed not only my image of the development sector but of India in general. I could now see the development track was a viable career option – it is possible to do good and do well!
Encouraged by the experience of the other 3 Fellows, Nitin and I decided to found E4SI and scale it into a complete model. We believed that we were filling a gap, a real need and had a very compelling proposition for the students as well.
In the last two editions of the Fellowship, we have recruited the top 5% of applicants from 15 premier Indian engineering colleges (IITs, BITS, NITs) to create 28 E4SI Fellows that interned at 10 partnering social enterprises. In the 2009 edition, we made more than 13,000 students from 63 cities in India aware about the development sector and development through enterprise.
We have a vision to create more than 230 Fellows by September 2011 and to make 150,000 students aware about the development sector and development through enterprise, and we hope E4SI will become the most sought after undergraduate experience by 2011. We hope to quantify our impact by the social impact of our Fellows and their ventures. We envision by 2020 that E4SI Fellows will go on to create at least 10 world class social enterprises, driving a unique market based approach to development.