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A young ‘ecopreneur’

Welingkar Institute of Management alumnus Priyanka Amar Shah talks about her venture which encourages people to grow consumable crops within their premises .

education Updated: May 28, 2013 19:02 IST
Gauri Kohli

Welingkar Institute of Management alumnus Priyanka Amar Shah talks about her venture which encourages people to grow consumable crops within their premises .

What is your project about?
iKheti is a community enterprise with a social impact. It was started to create a platform for individuals and communities to grow healthy consumable crops within their premises and promote sustainable urban farming. It started as a project at the Welingkar Institute of Management, Mumbai. We were given a platform to present our business ideas to experts from different sectors. I, along with my team members - Aditi Bansal and Janetri Dave - spent six months on conceptualising, researching and prototyping before it was presented. Support and guidance from my mentors helped us nurture the idea of urban farming.

How was your team set up? What made you choose this project?
The students were free to choose their preferred sector and ideas. I chose the social sector because I have been an animal activist since childhood and was working part time as an art and craft teacher for a municipal school. Youngsters today have the added responsibility of contributing to the society. Even before this project started, we grew herbs like lemon grass, mint, curry leaves etc at home. It was during a dinner discussion that I got this idea about helping people grow healthy consumable crops at home.

Why is this project important?
iKheti envisages that good health, innovation and productivity will soon be an integral part of our lifestyles. For instance, an individual can cultivate the habit of consuming healthy, unadulterated food, while enhancing the aesthetic value of his/her home. At the corporate level, it helps to de-stress employees and creates a group indulging in a collective activity that helps the environment. Besides, it helps to turn urban locales into food production units, encourages people to learn and practice sustainable lifestyles and helps offset carbon emissions by reducing the distance between the crop and its consumer.

Tell us about your current areas of work.
iKheti offers customised services and specialised products to enhance the experience of ‘urban farmers.’ It is professionally organised when compared to small nurseries and local gardeners.

Mention any other new projects that you are working on besides this.
We are currently working with individuals and even corporates and helping them ‘greenvamp’ their premises and encourage sustainable urban farming. Some of these include restaurants, finance companies and other business houses. Workshops are also held to introduce a larger audience to the urban agriculture movement by simplifying the diverse world of gardening.

‘She always selected interesting projects’

Priyanka Amar Shah was my student for two years. She started this venture in her second year. When she discussed the idea and concept behind iKheti, we found it very unique.

She always took up different projects in college which were not run-of-the-mill. She received good feedback about her venture when she first discussed it at Welingkar. The course which she opted for (business design) emphasises on fieldwork and is activity-focussed.

It is a unique blend of a designer’s holistic and dreamy-eyed approach to problem-solving and the analytical approach of a typical manager. This makes it different from conventional programmes. It aims to merge the approaches from the fields of design and business so that it can lead to some unique ideas in the long run.

The business design course merges the approaches from design and business - Kaustubh Dhargalkar, associate dean and head of innovation centre at the WeSchool

Five facts at your fingertips

1. About welingkar institute of management The institute, founded in 1977, has recognitions and accreditations from bodies such as the National Board of Accreditation, All India Council for Technical Education, Mumbai University and HRD Ministry. The AACSB and EQUIS accreditations are in progress

2. Influencer “Youngsters today have the added responsibility of contributing to society. Even before this project started, we grew herbs like lemon grass, mint, curry leaves etc at home. It was during a dinner discussion that I got this idea about helping people grow healthy consumable crops at home,” says Shah

3. Programmes Flagship programmes are: postgraduate diploma programme in management (PGDM); PGDM (business design); PGDM (e-biz); PGDM (healthcare); PGDM (retail); PGDM (rural management – emerging economies). Other AICTE-approved courses are: executive PGDM; PGDM (family-managed business)

4. Mumbai

It is India’s economic hub

Many of India’s numerous conglomerates (including Larsen and Toubro, State Bank of India, Life Insurance Corporation of India, Tata Group, Godrej and Reliance) are based here

The city offers a cosmopolitan and diverse lifestyle

5. Admissions The process for admission to various programmes for the new batches at the institute has begun. Students can apply online at
http://www.welingkar.org. The eligibility criteria for admission to various programmes varies. Admissions are based on merit only