Interview by: Stephanie Blum
Written by: Sierra Goerg
In 2018, Ritu Katarya mentored Yunus&Youth fellow, Abhishek Banerjee, and helped build his social venture, Qube. Ritu is a Vice President of Global Consumer Technology at Citi and was excited to take on the opportunity to mentor a social entrepreneur. “I didn’t take it as a decision,” She explained. “I took it on as an honor to be able to mentor a social entrepreneur and to be able to contribute something to this world.” Abhishek’s social venture, Qube, aims to transform waste and plastic into bricks used to create buildings.
It wasn’t until attending the One Young World event in the Netherlands did Ritu realize the vast extent of social ventures. “What I saw is something that I didn’t imagine existed.” She said. “I didn’t know a huge movement like this is going around and that so many people are coming together to do social good.” This is when she decided to join the movement and mentor a Yunus&Youth fellow. Although the pair was randomly assigned, Ritu felt a connection with her mentee and was excited she could help with an environmental topic.
Ritu assisted Abhishek with market research, financial models, and the building of a business plan to get additional funding for his initiative. “I felt like my mentorship background and product management really helped him do the right set up of market research, and financial plan to take his initiative forward.” During the mentorship, Abhishek was awarded a university grant for INR 30,000,000. His pilot project recycled more than 1.5 tons of plastic, producing more than 1,000 eco-bricks. He established significant contacts through partners with EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) companies and has discussed with local contractors doing small to medium scale projects.
Being empathetic is a quality Ritu believes that mentors need to have. She explains that in doing so, the mentor can grasp where the mentee is coming from and therefore give advice accordingly. “When you mentor someone it’s not just about that one to one mentoring. It’s what you give to somebody that they will eventually give to others,” Ritu said. “You basically multiply the impact you are going to have.”