Entrepreneurs in the Be! Fund pipeline

Imagine living in a village where you have to travel 20km just to get basic news.

Pramod, age 28, used to live in a village like that. A village of 3,600 people in Maharashtra where people had to go 25km to the nearest town to read a newspaper. A year and a half ago, Promod, a farmer, started a library in his village, in a room next to his house. The library now has 125 paying members, including young people who read job ads in the newspaper (two have even found jobs as a result). And this Republic Day, students from Class 5-10 used the library to research Nehru, Gandhi and Ambedkar, and then gave short speeches in front of their classmates. Now, Promod wants to add a computer and more books and transform his library into an information hub for his village.

“Not just business, I could run the country if I wanted to.”

Preeti lives in a village in Madhya Pradesh, and is a homemaker and mother. Her husband earns Rs. 3,000 a month and she uses part of this salary for her son’s education and has been saving another part for her dream business. She wants to start a business of producing briquettes from agricultural waste that can replace firewood. Her business will save trees and provide an efficient alternative fuel. Preeti will hire 5 women to help her in her briquette unit. She says, “Education or no education, women are smart and can shine in any field they want.” She says she wants to be role model for other women in her community.

Manoj lives in a village in the hills of Uttarakhand. He went to school till 10th standard and then did his graduation through correspondence. He got a diploma in merchandising and worked in Delhi for four years. But Manoj wasn’t happy with life in the city; he wanted to go back to his village and start a business. So last year, he started a small scale camping and trekking business. He hasn’t been able to get a loan from state banks because of lack of collateral. He wants to establish a camping resort, buy tents and make a website marketing his business. He hopes his business will promote tourism and bring wealth to his village, and inspire young people who have migrated to come back to the village.

These are just some of the entrepreneurs who have called us in response to our media campaign on STAR. We will continue to tell you their stories as they go through the selection process.

Be! Fund is hard at work…

Since the launch of Be! Movies on STAR, calls, SMSes and letters have poured into the Be! Fund.

We’ve gotten

60,000 calls in the past 6 weeks

1,500 SMSes

150 letters and postcards

and growing every day…

We’re hard at work answering these calls, messages and letters, and finding young entrepreneurs throughout India! if you’re a young entrepreneur who has applied to the Be! Fund, you can expect a call from us soon.

Pintu and his 99 Friends on STAR Utsav

“Pintu aur uske 99 Dost” will air on STAR Utsav on Sunday, January 22, 2012, at 12:30 p.m. This is the seventh film in our “Idea Ho To Aisa: Be! an Entrepreneur” series.

In a slum, divided by a wall, live two communities. The school is on one side of the wall, the water pump on the other, so children have to go up and around the wall to get where they need to go. Pintu has moved here from the village, a place where he claims he once had 99 friends. No one believes him at first, but Pintu convinces them by quickly making friends on both sides of the wall.

One day Pintu and his friends are playing football and their ball lands in a large pile of garbage. The boys frantically rummage through the trash—wrinkling their noses in disgust at the smell—but are unable to find it. Pintu decides enough is enough; it’s time to clean up the place. And so he embarks on a journey to set up a waste management enterprise in a slum where Ranjan Bhaiya, the local don, owns everything—even the fear in people’s hearts. Through this roller coaster of a ride, Pintu builds a team—‘the Chakachaks’—that includes his football friends, a gang of girls (led by the feisty Afsana, the undisputed hopscotch champion of the slum) and Bharat who used to be the slumlord’s right hand man. Tension builds as his business becomes more and more successful and Ranjan Bhaiya starts to notice that the boy on the other side of the wall is taking away his business. Will Pintu’s 99 friends be enough to see him through the fight?

Rukhsar’s Rooftop Revolution

“Rukhsar ka Asmani Bagh” airs on STAR Utsav on January 15, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. This is the sixth film in our series titled, “Idea Ho to Aisa: Be! an Entrepreneur.”

Rukhsar, a young woman from the village, moves to the city to join her husband. Instead of the city of dreams she imagined, she discovers a crowded slum where everything—jobs, water and vegetable supply—is ruled by the local slumlord Chinni. Her stubborn nature starts her on a journey to start a rooftop farming business that will give people freedom from Chinni and a way to earn a living by growing and selling their own vegetables. But will Rukhsar be able to overcome people’s fears and her husband’s opposition? Will she be able to bring together a community to challenge the way things are?

Suraj’s Super Waterworks

‘Suraj ka Super Waterworks’ the fifth Be! Movie from our series titled “Idea Ho To Aisa: Be! an Entrepreneur” airs on Star Utsav at 12:30pm on Sunday, January 8, 2012.

“When will you send electricity to our village?” Puja, Suraj’s sister, hopefully asks the engineers building a dam in their river. The engineers laugh and tell Puja that the electricity from the dam is for the big city, not for her sleepy village. Puja is distraught to hear the news.

Suraj is moved to change the world for his sister, and starts on a journey to bring electricity to his village. He faces opposition from the village elders and the District Collector, who tells him, “Create your own electricity if you want it so much.” Emboldened by this challenge, Suraj finds out that traditional watermills (gharats) can be used to generate electricity. But no one has the money to turn his ambitious plan into reality.

Will Suraj find a way to finance his dreams or will his village remain in the dark?

Bamboo Boys on STAR Utsav

‘Bamboo Boys’ airs on Sunday, January 1st at 12:30pm on STAR Utsav.

Rocco and Zaki are inseparable best friends, although they have very different dreams: Zaki is happy with his life in their Nagaland village, but Rocco is determined to grow up to become a ‘bada saab,’ a big man. But when Rocco eventually moves to the city after finishing school, he only finds low-paid construction work instead of the glamorous life he imagined. After a few years of struggle, Rocco returns home to discover his father is in serious trouble. He has failed to fulfill a government contract to build a library, and stands to lose everything. Rocco and Zaki decide to build the library themselves, but they don’t have money for concrete and brick. One day, Rocco looks at the miniature toys Zaki makes and an idea strikes him. They will make the library from bamboo! Will the library stand? But will the villagers agree? And will their friendship survive the challenges they face?

Motor Mechanic Phulwa on STAR Utsav

‘Motor Mechanic Phulwa ki Kamaal Kahani’ the third Be! Movie from our series titled “Idea Ho To Aisa: Be! an Entrepreneur” goes on air on Star Utsav at 12:30pm on Sunday, December 25th 2011.

Phulwa lives in a small village in Bihar and helps her father run a ramshackle garage on the highway. In her village, there is no electricity and as a result, no enterprise. When she finds out her friend Kanhaiya is leaving the village, like thousands of other young people, to look for work in the city, she decides to start a business to bring electricity to her village. But will she be able to overcome the corrupt diesel mafia and the sarpanch’s husband who try to sabotage her at every step? Find out on December 25th, 12:30pm when the film airs on Star Utsav.

‘Biogas Ka Bindaas Business’ on STAR Utsav

‘Biogas ka Bindaas Business’ the second Be! Movie from our series titled “Idea Ho To Aisa: Be! an Entrepreneur” goes on air on Star Utsav at 12:30pm on Sunday, December 18th 2011.

Biogas Ka Bindaas Business is the story of three young women and how their lives interweave and collide as they set off on a journey to bring a sustainable fuel to their village. But things are rarely easy for the trio, who face opposition from the upper-caste elites of the village determined to stop them in their tracks. Will they triumph in the end? Tune in on Sunday, December 18th at 12:30pm to find out!

Be! Movies air on STAR starting this Sunday

Be! Movies air on STAR Utsav every Sunday at 12:30 pm, for seven weeks, starting December 11.

Over the past two years, we at GTS have been working with the most talented filmmakers across India to produce Be! Movies. Shot on film or HD with original music, actors and the highest quality production, Be! Movies take young people through an epic adventure story of setting up a business. From Seher, who starts solar light enterprise in her slum to Rocco and Zaki who build houses out of bamboo in their Nagaland village, these stories of hero entrepreneurs create massive public awareness and value for entrepreneurship, and inspire young people living in poverty to choose to become entrepreneurs and start businesses that ‘do good.’

We are now partnering with STAR India to air the movie series, titled “Idea Ho To Aisa: Be! an Entrepreneur” on STAR Ustav, to reach millions of young people and their parents, teachers and decision makers in their lives.

Each Be! Movie asks young people, ages 18+ to submit their business ideas to the Be! Fund—India’s first ever risk capital fund for young people living in poverty who want to create businesses that solve local problems. Chosen candidates go through several rounds of interviews, site verification, and have their business plans evaluated by the investment committee. Those who are approved receive investment from the Be! Fund to start businesses that solve the economic, environmental and social problems they face.

The first film in the series, Seher ka Jagmagata Business (Seher’s Bolt of Lightening Business) is the story of a young woman who starts a business renting solar lights to street vendors. But will she be able to overcome the corrupt slumlord Bhali Masi and win the freedom for people to choose their light? Tune in on Sunday, December 11 at 12:30pm to find out!