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IIT alumnus quits job to work with 160 farmers to plant over 400 acres of community forest.

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Sunith Reddy desired to leave the city and pursue a more “sustainable existence.” According to him, ever-increasing metropolitan populations, as well as busy lifestyles such as long commuting times and unhealthy cuisine, make city living unviable. He tried organic farming on a tiny plot of land near Bengaluru between 2015 and 2016.

Many people bought acreage and became weekend farmers, but many of them struggled since the farm did not last long or their interest waned. Recurring expenses, staff management, and infrastructure investment were financially taxing and presented challenges. Even if a harvest were to be acquired, the profit made was insufficient to create a viable business.

Sunith gave up his career to start a successful community forest initiative for those who share his ideals. “Not many people can afford to acquire a huge piece of land, but with the support of a small group of farmers, this can become a possibility”, he says. 

Building a Sustainable Community

With the support of his friend Shaurya Chandra and five others, efforts were initiated. To begin their endeavour, they began by locating 10 acres of vacant land in Hyderabad.

The idea of living in a self-sufficient, self-sustaining food forest began as a project for people who wanted to transition from animal husbandry to farming. “Based on regenerative agricultural practices, we established and managed a sustainable food forest and jointly owned living spaces that lead to food, water, and electricity security,” he explains. The dwellings have modern conveniences created from locally obtained materials, as well as a variety of plants, crops, and trees.

Permaculture is a natural design system that makes the best use of resources available on site that complement each other. Community forests are built using permaculture principles. According to Sunith, community forests created by a group of landowners “evolve in harmony with nature without disrupting natural wildlife habitats, routes, or harming the lives of local communities.”

The collectives are self-sustaining, and uses locally produced materials for housing, which reduces their energy impact. Traditional settlements, which revolve around a source of drinking water, have inspired daily living.

Clean air, water, low sound pollution, and nutritious, naturally grown food are used to calculate the Return on Investment (ROI). By assisting local community farmers in adding value to their products and obtaining a fair price through branding and marketing, the community also functions as a network to promote new entrepreneurial opportunities.

A Holistic Framework

In 400 acres of community forest in Coorg and Hyderabad, the community grows coffee, moringa, millets, bananas, and multi-crop products. Two more collectives between Mumbai and Chikmagalur are planned, bringing the total land area to 1,000 acres.

“The typical misconception among buyers is that it is an agricultural plot, which is not true; it is also not a real estate business,” Sunith says. Unless they observe the difference through experience, the founding members have no idea how the collective will turn out. Sunith believes that in recent decades, sustainability has taken a backseat and that we need to reconnect with nature and create a framework for holistic growth for both nature and humanity.

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Leadership

Freshwork’s inspiring success story makes employee crorepatis

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Freshworks IPO has made 500 employees crorepatis

Freshworks Inc., led by Girish Mathrubootham, became the first Indian Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company to get on the NASDAQ, which helped the valuation of the company reach a sky-high value of $13 billion.

Through stock options, around 500 of Girish’s employees turned into ‘crorepatis’, out of which 70 are said to be under 30.

Born to a former bank officer in 1975, Girish co-founded Freshdesk (now Freshworks) with Shan Krishnasamy in 2010. Atwell College from Australia was the first of many clients on board. The company managed to get 22 clients worldwide in the initial days.

Entrepreneurship is never a smooth journey, with success never guaranteed. “Success and happiness are two different things – One should focus on staying happy irrespective of what is happening around you. We always hold the key to our happiness,” says Girish.

Girish also mentions how grateful he is to all his employees and that the 500 new ‘crorepatis’ deserved a reward for their contribution over the years. About 4300 of Freshwork Inc’s employees globally hold equity options in the company.

Girish strongly believes in mentorship. He also founded SaaSBooMi, a community of founders who share hard-learned experiences by making these learnings available to all. “Passion and purpose are more important than almost anything else,” said Girish talking about young entrepreneurs looking to leave their mark. In the long run, he hopes to build a SaaS company that is recognized globally.

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Leadership

Shaji Thomas: The Indian Superhero who is saving the Amazon Rainforest

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Global warming, forest depletion, and other hazardous effects on our environment have been increasing rapidly as days go by. There are still a few souls who do everything they can to make sure they somehow play a part in saving us from what is known as the end of our existence.

One such hero is Shaji Thomas. He has been in a fight for the last 26 years to protect and save the Amazon Rainforests of Brazil. Here is a look into his heroic struggle to ensure a better future for us all. 

Shaji Thomas: Guardian of the Amazon Rainforest

Shaji Thomas who hails from Kerala carried his bags and shifted to Brazil as a young student. This young smart superhero is now an environmental conservationist and a lawyer, but what is more fascinating about him is the fact that he stayed back after his education for one special cause.

Shaji Thomas decided to fight and protect the Amazon Forests of Brazil and the rights for the 60 plus communities that reside in the region. This passion began when he was in his mid-twenties and was a part of the Quilombola Community. 

The battle was not easy in the beginning. Thomas had to acquire Brazilian citizenship and become the only Indian-origin lawyer in the region. He stood up to the mafia and lived on a boat in the rivers of the Amazon for years. 

This superhero has been holding up a strong fight for years but there is still a lot of work to do. Climate change is something that has been on the rise leading to major destruction of the rainforests. Thomas claims that almost 20 sq. km burns every year due to forest fires.

Shaji Thomas is working hard every year and inspiring people all over the world to play their part to ensure that the Earth’s lungs are safeguarded, and we have a sustainable future.

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Business

Ramesh Babu: A Story Of Rags to Riches

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Some people are born billionaires, some have to work hard and stay dedicated to achieve their dreams. In the latter case, the stories of how they rise from nothing are inspirational and truly spark a sense of respect in the eyes of the people. 

One such story is of Mr. Ramesh Babu. This barber who came from nothing is now a billionaire in India who owns a series of cars including a Rolls Royce. From a rental car business to owning 75 high-end luxury cars, Ramesh Babu’s story is truly inspiring.

The Rough Start

Ramesh Babu was born in an extremely poor family. His father was a barber. However, tragedy struck when Ramesh’s father passed away when he was just 7 years old.

To make ends meet, Ramesh’s mother began working as a maid in houses. The family business was a barbershop. Babu’s uncle took over the store after the death of his father. 

During his pre-university days, Babu decided to take over the saloon while continuing his education to help his mother run the home. 

The idea that turned Ramesh Babu’s world upside-down

In 1993, Ramesh Babu decided to buy a second-hand Maruti van. Settling the loan was a big deal and this was when Ramesh was blessed with an idea to rent the car out to earn some extra money

After this, Ramesh began taking the rental business extremely seriously and he started adding more cars to his business. By 2004, he had six cars. However, the competition in the market was high and Ramesh had to think big. This is when he decided to move into luxury cars. 

Ramesh Babu: The Barber with a Rolls Royce

In 2011, Ramesh Babu hit the peak of his business. He bought his very own Rolls Royce in 2011. A lot of people warned him about the risks and the possible downfall of all his income as he purchased an extremely expensive car. However, Ramesh Babu kept his head high and his feet on the ground, he believed in himself and moved forward with his business.

Mr. Babu has plans for the future but it all depends on planning and how the organization decides to pay the road taxes. Ramesh Babu was also a part of a TED Talk where he gave students and budding entrepreneurs some great advice on how to start and stick to a business plan. 

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