How to affect change through entrepreneurship
In his recent blog, Richard Branson spoke about his belief that “a business is nothing more than a group of people making a positive difference to people’s lives.” That was certainly true when we founded the Future Leaders Network recently. We wanted to be able to offer young people, with the ambition of attaining a position of leadership, a network, training and personal development opportunities, such as the opportunity to represent the UK at the Y7 Summit, to help them realise their potential.
In fact, I come across many amazing entrepreneurs almost every day in my role with Virgin StartUp, each of whom is affecting positive change in the World, through entrepreneurship. Recently I caught up Sudha Kheterpal, founder of Shake your Power, to ask her how she would advise others looking to follow in her footsteps…
What made you start-up?
My background is in music; I’ve been a touring pop musician for the best part of 20 years. Whilst performing on stage and inspired by the energy of the crowd at festivals, I would wonder if that energy could be harnessed and used. During that time, I also felt a growing desire to make change and to do some social good and it was only when I stopped and took time out from music, that this feeling got stronger and took hold. Then there was no going back!
So how are you affecting change with your start-up?
In November 2013, I began developing my idea further - to see if energy could be harnessed through playing music. A few months later, I’d developed a proof-of-concept percussion shaker that, when played, would convert that energy into electricity. This laid the ground for the multi award-winning Spark, the World’s first clean energy-generating musical shaker. Spark generates clean, kinetic energy when played and with its smart power system, can charge a mobile phone.
How did you turn this into a business?
In 2014, I set up Shake Your Power, a Social Enterprise that is focused on providing clean energy and education to some of the 1.2 billion people living without mains electricity. With over 600 million people living off the grid in Africa for example, this affects education, family spending, health, the environment and wellbeing. With the Spark shaker, children can do at least 2 hours of extra school work a night, families can save up to 10% of their income whilst reducing the hazardous effects of kerosene, and children can feel safer as they walk home from school in the dark.
What’s next for Shake Your Power?
Shake Your Power also aims to inspire young people by bringing core subjects to life, to create sparks in their imagination and most importantly, to help them to see what they can achieve. Through the Spark educational kit, or Edu-Spark, children can learn Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) by building their own power in a fun way. The Edu-Spark is being piloted in the UK, USA and India.
What advice would you give anyone that wants to affect change by starting a business?
Believe, believe, believe! If you don’t, it will make the journey so much harder. Also having a dedicated mission with a social purpose will drive the way through and provide an anchor when the boat gets a bit rocky - which it most certainly will!
If you want to hear more from Sudha and from recent Virgin Unite competition winner and founder of Change Please, Cemal Ezel, grab yourself a ticket to our next event “How to affect change through entrepreneurship”.