Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Girish Menon, Owner of STiR Education, located in London, LDN, UK.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
STiR Education is an international not-for-profit organization that works with government education systems in India, Uganda, and Indonesia to improve learning outcomes for children.
Tell us about yourself
I have been in the not-for-profit sector for 37 years now, initially working in India and then across countries in Asia and Africa. I am currently based in London. The reason why I started working in this sector is to contribute to creating a more equal and fair world. I believe in the power of transformation and individual action, working in solidarity with others.
My main motivation has been my belief that in my own way and working with many others, I am able to make a difference in the lives of people who are marginalized, disadvantaged, and vulnerable.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
For us in this sector, it is all about changing lives. For STiR, our great accomplishment is that over the ten years of our existence, we have reached out to 6 million children and 200,000 teachers across over 100 districts in India and Uganda at the cost of under $ 1 per child. In a perception survey of 8,000 teachers in India in 2022, over 85% of them said that our approach has resulted in improved literacy and numeracy.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing when one works on a long-term transformation program for which immediate quantifiable results are hard to come by is attracting the right kind of funding, as many donors tend to prefer funding specific projects that have tangible returns in the short term. Also, it is hard to come by longer-term commitments, which then becomes a big challenge in sustaining programs.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Prepare for the worst, hope for the best - there are always curved balls (Brexit, Covid, Ukraine war being just a few key examples).
- Invest in an organizational culture that motivates staff to stay, engage and flourish.
- Build resilience to absorb shocks, especially financial resilience, but also other systems to ensure business continuity.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Being a leader can be challenging and lonely. Develop other leaders, cultivate a culture of 'dispersed leadership,' create space for other leaders and remember - a leader does not necessarily have all the answers!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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