20 stories of people who have chosen an unusual path for themselves, driven by their dreams to make an impact on the lesser privileged in the society. Most of them are well-educated people from premium institutes in the country or outside the country. They are not usually expected to choose these options as careers in their lives, and hence they standout in the crowd.
If you are a regular reader of business magazines and newspapers, you would have most probably read most of these stories as all these people indulge in active PR to promote themselves and their causes and also for the fact that most of them depend on public funding for their work. Barring a couple of cases, I had read extensive stories of each of the cases mentioned in the book. Each story covered in 15-20 pages talks about the journey of the protagonist from childhood to where he/she is today in their own words with some comments here and there by the author. Each person takes you through what he or she were like as a kid and what kind of family background they came from, which sets the context for the rest of the story. Then, comes the moment when they thought about the idea and then the pursuit of that idea. The initial days when they took the offbeat path of working in the social sector rather than plush corporate jobs were obviously tough for most of them. They all started small and kept on expanding the idea and its reach as they moved on. Some are profit making organization and the author categorizes them under Rainmakers, some are single person pursuits and not for profit and author calls them Changemakers and then there are Spiritual Capitalist under which there are 3 profiles out of which only one made sense to me that of Akshya Patra. Each chapter ends with an Advice to Entrepreneurs, which is a very small and generic section. This is the first Rashmi Bansal book that I have read, but a quick Google search tells me that her first two books also follow the same pattern. Her writing style is same that she follows on her blog, primarily English with a sprinkling of colloquial Hindi to say exactly what she wants to say and not loose anything in translation.
Now, I may not find anything too exciting in the book personally, but I think books like this are important because these are stories that need to be told for the current crop of students to know what are the various options that they can potentially take apart from the conventional ones. It prepares them mentally for few tough years if they choose an unconventional path. These stories tell them the power of perseverance and the fact that your background either personally or educationally cannot limit you if you do not want them to. These stories also sensitize young minds of the vast spaces in our societal makeup that have not been touched by the so-called development. It probably gives them a glimpse into what exists beyond their own circles and how they have the power to make a difference. They also have an option to work with some of these organizations either as a career or a platform to gain experience or simply interact with the people profiled in the book.
Having said that, the stories are presented only from the protagonist’s point of view. They cannot be called complete study of a particular organization or movement unless you also take views of people who have worked with these people or people who have benefitted from these initiatives. Stories are also limited to people who came with branded education, though there are many who are running similar movements even without the cushion of a degree that can take them back to corporate world anytime.
Rashmi Bansal, you are the Chetan Bhagat of Entrepreneurial Case Studies.
(Anuradha blogs at http://anuradhagoyal.blogspot.com. A highly regarded and prolific blogger she combines three of her interests- traveling, reading and writing. The book review first appeared in her blog at http://anuradhagoyal.blogspot.com/2011/09/i-have-dream-by-rashmi-bansal.html