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This year's fellows represent 10 countries including India, Indonesia, China, Pakistan, Nepal and Singapore, and it's great to see 47 entrepreneurs from India making it to the list!
Contrary to the common perception, there are many young entrepreneurs and social changemakers in Asia today, realising their dreams and ambitions and contributing a pie to the region's growth. The Foundation for Youth Social Entrepreneurship (FYSE) confirmed the same when it announced the names of 100 inspiring young entrepreneurs and social changemakers from 10 countries in Asia Pacific, selected for the annual Paragon fellowship (previously Asia Pacific Future 100).
This year's fellows represent 10 countries including India, Indonesia, China, Pakistan, Nepal and Singapore, and it's great to see 47 entrepreneurs from India making it to the list.
In order to support young entrepreneurs who have dared to stride out, FYSE selects 100 young entrepreneurs and social Changemakers annually for a one-year fellowship in which they benefit from regional networking, mentorship from an extensive network of professionals and entrepreneurs, capacity building and access to finance.
FYSE will also profile Paragon fellows widely through a network of more than 50 partners in Asia Pacific and multiple online channels as positive role models in order to inspire more young people to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice. The website will not only provide young people with inspirational role models, but also provide them with information on how to take the next step towards turning their ideas into reality.
"We need to provide more young successful entrepreneurs as positive role models to our youth in order to inspire them to take actions. Many young people in Asia Pacific dream of being an entrepreneur, but they hesitate to take action because they don't know any young entrepreneurs who have already succeeded in doing so. The Paragon fellowship aims to change that," says Andrea Krause, executive director, FYSE.
Krause adds, "While in Europe and the US young social changemakers and entrepreneurs are celebrated in the media and society, we need to move forward in Asia to celebrate and support our young entrepreneurs, as they can play a tremendous role in creating jobs and in contributing significantly to the economic and social development of our countries."
Headstart Network, which is actively pursuing the agenda of fostering the entrepreneurial spirit amidst young innovators across India, also featured in the most promising entrepreneurs' list.
Amit Singh, entrepreneur and co-founder, HeadStart Network shares his thoughts on the relevance of this recognition, "The FYSE team is doing some solid work in finding two-three mentors for each of these fellows. Besides they have also connected us to over 30 serial entrepreneurs and investors for advice, encouragement and support. So I guess for each of these 100 individuals, the fellowship is highly relevant." Singh is one of the recipients of the annual Paragon fellowship.
"As a part of accepting the fellowship, we all have agreed to address at least two gatherings of youth/students sharing our experiences as entrepreneurs. There is nothing that spreads like enthusiasm.
"We are young, energetic have been through high highs and low lows ... we can relate to the youth and that's the intention of the award ... to provide more reference points to the youth... people whom they can relate to, seek advice and encouragement from, to start their own social and for-profit ventures," says Singh.
On whether the initiative will help foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the country, Singh opines: "Innovation is a cultural element. I am not sure if this recognition will promote innovation. But entrepreneurship, yes, it certainly will.
"Most students sell out on their dreams by the time they reach college. They prepare themselves to enter the rat race. Nothing wrong really in that either... it's a security-centric culture that we all are born and brought up in. I think that if we could talk to them, encourage them to protect and nurture their dreams, it would be a definitive factor in them taking the entrepreneurial plunge at a later point of time in their lives."