Afterschoool, originally started out as a career guidance centre, turned into a comprehensive training program. At Afterschoool, students get trained in social entrepreneurship. The training comprises business plans, business modeling, and financial analysis, marketing analysis, international business planning, social development, organization behavior and other subjects useful for social entrepreneurship. The Afterschoool belief lies in the ambition of creating social change through social entrepreneurship.
I met the founder of Afterschool, Dr T.K. Jain, who told us what Afterschoool is all about.
VP. How did Afterschoool come to existence?
TK: It was my dream to work for social development. I did my doctoral work also working with social entrepreneurs as volunteers (using participant observation method). Thus I was passionate to start something for society at large. Ultimately, I realized that I could contribute to the society in career guidance (as I wanted the youth to take up innovative and challenging areas – rather than just following the crowd). I started AFTERSCHOOOL, but soon I realized that in order to make an impact, I had to do something bigger. Further, I realized there was no course which could prepare a person for social entrepreneurship in India. So I started PGPSE (now, there are many institutions conducting programmes on social entrepreneurship, but when I started it, there was no institution).
VP. What made the Afterschool focus on social entrepreneurship?
TK: My own expertise was in social entrepreneurship. I had the passion to work in this sector. I believe that it is a very rewarding (both internal reward as well as social reward in terms of recognition) area. I got lukewarm response in the beginning but when I saw the results, I was overwhelmed. The first few students (Mr. N. Raju, Mr. Mahaveer etc.) were completely changed persons after the course and I realized that I can make some impact in this sector. My family and friends also encouraged me to proceed in this direction. We had formed a trust to work in this area and there were a number of volunteers, who were willing to give their voluntary services to our trust. Thus beginning was made possible. Now it is a dream coming true for me. I wish to see all my students working on social entrepreneurship projects.
VP: The Afterschoool aim is to create successful social entrepreneurs. How is that being done? What kind of training do you give?
TK: We believe in the power of case study approach and in the power of interaction with entrepreneurs. We make it a point to have extensive discussions on case studies. We also invite a large number of entrepreneurs, who inspire the participants with their experiences and these help us in achieving our objectives.
VP: What are the eligibility criteria for joining Afterschoool?
TK: It is a truly open programme – we don’t rely on any existing criteria. Any person willing to join our course can join this programme. There is no format for application form also (as against the traditional process). Each person has to write his / her statement of purpose and a summary sheet about his / her achievements, aspirations, goals. We try not to reject any application (our criteria for judgment is the ultimate goal of the person).
VP: Afterschoool believes in publicity by word of mouth. How does it benefit Afterschoool?
TK: We are targeting those, who want to become entrepreneurs / social entrepreneurs – thus our target market is very limited number of persons. Most of the people in today’s time are going after typical service oriented MBA programme, therefore, we have a limited number of aspirants. We believe that our course is not for everyone – as it is for those who have a passion to do something bigger for society – something impact making for society – therefore instead of advertisement, we rely on word of mouth publicity.
VP: How do students get industry exposure in Afterschoool?
TK: The students have to work in industries daily – for 4 to 5 hours a day – besides their regular classes. They attend their sessions in morning and evening and during business hours, they go and take practical work experience. We prefer that they should work with social entrepreneurs / entrepreneurs to gain first hand experience in entrepreneurship and for this we have undertaken collaboration with entrepreneurs / social entrepreneurs. Our students also participate in conferences, exhibitions. They also work for short projects with industries. They also write case studies / articles on entrepreneurs / social entrepreneurs – which give them exposure to the corporate life.
VP: What makes the PGPSE program different from Afterschool?
TK: We have not followed it on any existing programme. It is a unique programme in itself. In terms of pedagogy, innovations, course structure, flexibility – this programe is an absolutely different programme from existing programmes. I believe in doing something different – and I have put difference in each step – whether it is admission or assessment or course structure – we are different from the rest of the world. However, many people are skeptical about us due to our flexibility and innovation – but this skepticism is expected and anticipated and we are prepared for this.
Regular meditation, regular corporate job / part time work assignments and possibilities for earning while learning make our programme different. We also give our students possibilities for simultaneously pursue other programmes like CS, ICWA, CFP, FRM etc. – this make our programme an even more open and flexible programme.
VP: What are your future plans for Afterschoool?
TK: We want to make education truly open for all. We want to offer education all over the world. We want that thousands of persons, who want to become social entrepreneurs, should be able to join AFTERSCHOOOL and get the advantages. For this we have ambitious plans to set up branches of AFTERSCHOOOL all over the world. We have already offered the programme on our website – free and open for everyone. This will enable us to spread good education all over world and make is accessible, affordable and useful for everyone. We want to help them in setting up their business organizations / social ventures also. For this, we have a plan to form a committee of experts, who will help them in securing finance, preparing business plans and in arranging smooth implementation. We also have plans to tie up with venture capital companies so that seed capital is not the problem for our participants.
We also wish to send our students to other institutions on student exchange programmes. We also want to start executive programmes for corporate executives, who wish to bring spirituality in their life. Our social entrepreneurship programme is already popular, but we want to popularize our spiritual entrepreneurship programme also. We also want to conduct short duration camps on spiritual entrepreneurship / social entrepreneurship all over the world in different schools, institutions, colleges so that we can promote a great concept among the masses (we believe that although everyone doesn’t want to become social entrepreneur / spiritual entrepreneur due to some perceived notions – but we want to spread the concept and we believe that the concept is really very good and economically viable.