By definition, social entrepreneurs are those individuals who seek and develop business opportunities to impact the community around them in a positive manner. India is home to many social entrepreneurs and business owners who are driving growth in society with their highly valuable work.
One such acclaimed social entrepreneur is Ketan Deshpande, who is on a mission to reimagine and revamp the Indian education space with his social enterprise FUEL.
Ketan was brought up by his mother, who was a single parent. She had a transferable job as a Judge. So, they had to move every 3 years due to her judicial service. Since his childhood, Ketan was highly inspired by his granduncle, an ophthalmologist who carried out hundreds of eye surgeries and his grandfather, a freedom fighter. After finishing high school, Ketan moved to Pune to pursue his higher studies. It was in Pune’s different environment when he realised the issue of inaccessibility of information and higher education was not limited to rural areas and small towns only. Pune brought him closer to the reality of the Indian education system. To address this issue, Ketan started a social project Friends Union for Energising Lives (FUEL) at the age of 19 mentored by Mr Santosh Huralikoppi, CEO of N. S. Infotech and President of TiE – The Indus Entrepreneurs Hubli Chapter and a Pavate Fellow at Cambridge University, UK.
Since its inception, FUEL has been on a journey to create awareness and mobilisation of other students from his class. He used their collective experiences to compile information about different educational institutes and popular courses in Pune. Gradually, his project expanded not only to other cities in India but globally in Indonesia and Africa.
His sincere efforts towards societal development and his experiences earned him a place in the esteemed Symbiosis International University Pune where he completed his MBA course and is currently a research scholar at Symbiosis University and a Pavate visiting Fellow at JBS, University of Cambridge.
Looking at the need for career awareness and skill development among students, Ketan has been at the forefront of overcoming the educational and employability skills challenges of the youth through career coaching and skill development programmes. He published a career book “Fuel your dreams” wherein students are exposed to a multitude of career opportunities with all information regarding eligibility criteria, mode of application, and other information required for making successful careers.
To date, Ketan has impacted more than 10 million students in India. His impactful work has received appreciation from a noted scientist and former President of India Honourable Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. For his diligent work towards the social sector, Ketan was awarded Ashoka Fellowship in the year 2012. Ketan also represented India at Global Entrepreneurship Summit GES 2016 hosted by Former US President Mr Barack Obama. In 2018, he was recognised by the honourable Prime Minister of India Shri. Narendra Modi Ji was among India’s top 25 Champions of Change by Niti Aayog.
Ketan has formulated an innovative model, EduRaksha, which emphasises career support for 68,000 children of Jawans studying in 137 defence schools in India and FUEL is a winner of the Best Social Business Plans at various Tie Chapters (Tie Hubli, Kanpur) and is working with Fortune 500 companies and under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategic philanthropy initiatives of HDFC Bank, Standard Chartered GBS, Citi Bank to name a few!
Ketan is now on a mission to deepen his visible and sustainable impact on the youth of the country with his vision to set up Skill university in various states of India and has established the world-class FUEL Future Skills Institute (FFSI)in Pune to impact underserved youth and appeals all the Industry captains to join the model on lines of German dual education. Martina Merz CEO of the leading German conglomerate is mentoring Ketan & FUEL for this.