Packing a Punch
Starting this week, we profile women entrepreneurs who are making strides across genres. Here, we talk about two of these innovative minds who are empowering kids in unique ways—while one is encouraging them to learn about recycling and ecology, the other is helping them explore their creative core through writing.
Veda Lolge Dean comes from the sleepy town of Solapur in Maharashtra. Along with her husband, Brian, she started the parent company Panda & Wolf as an adtech agency in Pune in a small room in 2014. By 2017, they had established its headquarters in Mauritius and today, Panda and Wolf has grown from an adtech agency to Panda & Wolf Holding, having its own brands, of which Eco-WarriorsTM is the first-of-its-kind edutainment and eco-conscious project in Africa that helps manufacturers reduce carbon emissions while educating kids, under the patronage of the UNESCO.
Elaborating on what prompted her to start the initiative, the 27-year-old says, “There is no system or factory to upcycle or recycle any waste in Mauritius. We wanted to subtly establish a system of circular economy, while educating kids. Eco-WarriorsTM teaches kids through games, the actions related to waste sorting and recycling.
They learn the history and geography of the area, city or country through the different levels and sort the collected waste in recycling bins to earn points and complete the levels. They also meet the endemic animals of each place, helping them in the cleaning of their natural habitat and fight pest.” It has been awarded the Best Social Impact by SheThePeople.TV partnered by Google India and Colors TV, as well as ‘Most innovative IT solution’ by Women in Tech Africa—the largest group of women in technology in Africa. The project also provides a monthly report of waste tracking and CO2e per region to manufacturers, in order for them to understand the indirect CO2 and GHG emissions of their products and help them reduce their carbon taxes.
The Ministry of Education in Mauritius, since January 2020, has made Eco-WarriorsTM as part of their curriculum for kids aged 6-11 years. But it was not all smooth sailing. Many companies were skeptical to help sponsor the project. Frustrated, the entrepreneur decided to write to the UN Headquarters. “To my surprise, the Regional Director for UNESCO replied the very next day about how they have never thought about a project that would have nation-wide scope and also a business model that adheres to the Sustainable Development Goals.” Her project became the first tech innovation project in history to get an official patronage from the UNESCO.
“I strongly believe that in adversities, you either adapt or perish. The ability to turn every situation to some kind of advantage is hardwired in all of us,” she says. Veda is currently working on a Women Entrepreneurs Network platform that allows empowered women business owners and leaders to help and support women who come from deprived areas and situations in order to help them become independent.
Eco-WarriorsTM teaches kids through games about waste sorting and recycling. It also provides a monthly report of CO2e per region to manufacturers.
Award-winning blogger, author, social influencer, mentor, entrepreneur and mother, 37-year-old Anupama Dalmia has much to be proud of. Of all her ventures, Beyond the Box has grown the fastest. Says she, “I took to writing professionally in 2016. Urged by some friends, I conducted a three-day creative writing summer workshop for 25 kids. During that span, I realised this was my calling.” The fact that her tiny workshop encouraged kids to explore their creativity with more freedom and also added to their self-esteem, led to regular classes and soon she began to get invited by schools and corporates for conducting workshops on creative writing and communication. “I wanted to help more kids unlock their potential.” Finally, Beyond the Box was born in January 2019.
Anupama believes writing is all about creating magic using 26 letters. A follower of the motto—“The secret to success is not wasting time to find out the secret to success, but focusing on the work to be done instead with sincerity and focus”—this ex-IT professional faces challenges heads-on and in her own words has “never been uncertain about her career choices because I do not think long-term. I just focus on the next step. After all, there is always an option to take a U-turn”.
Though not a long-term planner, she does have some ideas about where she would like to head with her pet project. “I hope to reach more and more kids and become a part of their growing years. We conduct online classes as well, hence we are here for anyone across geographies to join us and discover the joys of writing. Apart from creative writing workshops and classes, we already have other initiatives through which we associate with the BTB family like the BTB Chronicles and BTB Book Series,” she says.
This wanderer and entrepreneur at heart is also the founder of Rhythms & Beats—a dance enterprise that is into dance workshops. Besides, she prompted her 60-something mom to don the hat of a home chef with a cookery website called Tingle Your Taste Buds.