Slums into Silicon Valleys!

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | BALAJEE C R
Published Mar 25, 2016, 12:13 am IST
Updated Mar 25, 2016, 12:13 am IST
Coimbatore-born research scientist Nikita Hari has been getting worldwide acclaim for her social venture Favalley.
Nikita Hari
 Nikita Hari

Parents dread gaming because it distracts youngsters from studies. However, it is also an activity that brings instant excitement to the youth, irrespective of their background or socio-economic status. Wouldn’t it, therefore, be a boon if underprivileged children could actually learn something while being engrossed in computer gaming?

Coimbatore-born Nikita Hari, a research scientist and doctoral student at Cambridge University, has co-founded a company called Favalley, with the dream of turning slums into Silicon Valleys. With the interesting idea of teaching coding through gaming to youngsters from a low socio-economy status, Nikita and her team were chosen as one of the top six among 25000 participants in the Hult Regional Finals in London, which is considered as one of the biggest entrepreneurial events in the world. Nikita speaks to DC about her accomplishments and how the venture, which is about to be launched in Chennai very soon.

“With four best friends teaming up to build something phenomenal, it feels like a fairytale!” starts Nikita on an exuberant note. Speaking about how they settled on this idea, she says, “My team members Paulo and Stefano had initially thought of the idea of teaching coding to kids through gaming, to apply for the Hult competition. But, later, Paulo and I decided to bring a social angle to it, by making this project reach out to the poor people of India — and we decided to build something on our own. Martin, another teammate, helped us with the business planning. We are four PhD students with different and complementary backgrounds, who are highly passionate about this initiative.”
     

Through this social startup, Nikita is planning to teach the youth who live in slums, to code through gaming, and later guide them to procure IT jobs — free of cost. “We aim to provide a better life and stable income to millions of young women and men living in over-crowded urban spaces in the world,” she explains.

Sharing her excitement about the phenomenal response they got during the Hult event, she says, “We could not have asked for a better debut! Apart from finishing in the top six, the feedback we got from judges gave us the confidence that Favalley could become a reality.”

She says that she owes her success to SRM University, which provided her a good platform to engage, educate and network with many people. Nikita also lives a multi-faceted life in Cambridge University — “Apart from working as a doctoral researcher in Power and Energy, I also tutor first year engineering undergraduates at Churchill College and Trinity Hall. I currently serve as the conference director of Beyond Profit Cambridge, the secretary of IEEE-Cambridge, and a CamAwise steering committee executive as well. I’m also a motivational speaker at many events as I aim to increase visibility of women and to inspire others to pursue engineering and research.”

On a concluding note, Nikita discusses Favalley’s ambitious long-term goals. Starting with the initial aim of branching the venture to cities across India, she says, “Our vision for 2022 is to bring half a million marginalised youth into direct employment, leading to 2.5 million more jobs, providing 15 million people with better and more stable income, improved connectivity, and gender empowerment. I’m upbeat about achieving this goal!”





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