#051 Social entrepreneurship with Jaideep Bansal

#051 Social entrepreneurship with Jaideep Bansal

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P&G Alumni Podcast

Episode Transcript

Sharad: Hi, everyone. Welcome to How To Live. A podcast that explores ways to live a good life. I'm your host, Sharad Lal. This is episode 51. Imagine being offered a lucrative expat role, all books. But then having an irresistible urge towards a purpose driven project. What would you do?

That's the very quandary, our special guest Jaideep faced many years ago during his tenure at Procter and Gamble. As you might've guessed, he chose the path less travelled. The one leading to social entrepreneurship.

Here's a quick snapshot. It's a remarkable journey. He's an award-winning social entrepreneur dedicated to bringing sustainable development. to the remotest corners of India.

As the co-founder and CEO of GHE Impact Ventures, he's brought solar energy And sustainable progress to half a million people across five remote regions in India.

Jaideep's effort earned him the prestigious 2020 UN climate action award. The impact of GHE has been spotlighted by the likes of national geographic, BBC. And NDTV. His work has also received recognition from organisations such as WTC and the world tourism awards.

Jaideep leadership has been acknowledged even at Davos among the top influencers Shaping a better world. He's also an Asia foundation fellow and has been honoured As a global young leader by the world economic forum. I originally had this conversation with Jaideep as part of another podcast. I cohost the P&G alumni podcast.

In our discussion, Jaideep been, I talk about how privilege can be used to make an impact. How social entrepreneurship is not charity, but a symbiotic relationship. And the profound change access to basic necessities like electricity can bring to society.

You can also expect heartwarming stories of joyous celebrations. And even some frightening encounters with bandits. Ultimately this episode promises to store something deeper within you. And inspire you to explore How you can bring more purpose to your own life.

So without further ado, let's jump right in and enjoy our conversation with the incredible Jaideep Bansal.

Sharad: Hi Jaideep, welcome to the P&G alumni podcast. How are you doing this morning?

Jaideep: Hi Sharad, pleasure to be on the podcast and good to hear from you.

Sharad: Whereabouts in India are you right now?

Jaideep: So I am based out of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat, that's in the western part of India, but all my work related stuff is in the northern and the northeastern frontiers of India.

Sharad: I'm so excited to talk to you about all the good work you're doing. You're leading a purpose driven life, you're doing work, which is so fulfilling. But before we dig into all of that, Jaideep, I'd love to understand who Jaideep was before all the success that you've had. Is there any meaningful story that you might have from your parents while growing up which has shaped you in some ways?

Looking back at Jaideep's childhood

Jaideep: If I look back at my childhood, I'm the son of an army officer. So my father was in the Indian army, courtesy of which we've had the opportunity to travel across the length and breadth of India. It was always changing. So every two to three years, we would move places, pack our bags, pack the entire house, move from one place to the other.

And that meant making new friends all over again, establishing yourself in the new place. And then after three years getting uprooted and going to a new place again. So that I think made me into what I would call an extrovert. Really going to new places, exploring new friends, making and interacting with new people, new geographies.

And I think one thing that my father always used to teach me is that if everyone is going north, you go south. And that has really influenced a lot of the decisions that I've made till date in my life. Whether it was debating competitions in schools to choosing a university. So even when I went to the university, I remember seeing everyone picking up guitar.

So I realised that if everyone is a guitarist, I want to become the drummer because nobody wants to become a drummer. So I, it's just examples like this that have really influenced a lot of my decision making to the point that I think my father regulated teaching me this because I remember When it was time to choose between an expat role with P n G in London to, versus a sabbatical to quit P&G I chose the latter, whereas everyone was also asking me to choose being an expat. 

So I think that day I think he was wondering whether it was a good idea to teach me this. If everyone goes north, you go south. But I think over a period of time he realised that it was, it still is one of the most beautiful sort of lessons that I've learned from him.

Sharad: That's such a powerful lesson. And I can imagine like an Indian dad suddenly seeing my son's now quitting this great career to go south and questioning it. But it's so good with all the success that you achieved along with fulfilment. I think you've got it both, which has been so great to see.

And what also struck me at that young age, PVP resonated strongly with you. Often kids at that age are looking at ambition.

How do I move higher in the organisation? But to you, it was that purpose that resonated. So if you can talk a little bit about that. 

Purpose, not ambition, resonated with Jaideep

Jaideep: Yeah, in fact, I remember in one of the conversations around my career, someone gave this very beautiful analogy that if you are just happy with your promotion, that means there are only four or five moments in your entire life in P&G that you'll be happy.

That means you'll move from maybe 4, 5, 6, or maximum maybe 7 if you're in the PS supply chain career. And that means are you going to base all your life on just these 5 or 6 moments of happiness? Then you're looking at a very wrong definition of happiness. It is about the work you do day in and day out.

And I think that is something that was really like an aha moment for me. Because often, IIT makes you very competitive. And for you, it's about getting that day one placement, getting the highest pay packages, getting into a nice job. And then, getting the fastest promotion. But then after a point of time, you realise it's all futile.

Because it's not about chasing a certain goal, but it is about how you live your life each and every day. And that is what PVP was all about. So that is why, it really resonated and started changing the way I also used to think about my career at P&G because it became more about what I do day in and day out that can improve and enrich my life.

And more importantly, this whole idea of touching and improving lives was really what mattered to me a lot, that how can I be of value to someone else in the organisation, in the broader sort of workspace that we had.

and that's why I moved away. P&G to a social entrepreneur lifestyle. But I think that touching and improving lives was something else that really resonated with me.

you've spoken and alluded a lot earlier about how you had to choose between this big fork in the road between the mountains and the UK.

Sharad: So I'd love to hear where that came about and how you made that decision. 

Choosing between the big fork in the road

Jaideep: 2013 is when I met Paras Loomba, who is the founder of GHG, the social enterprise that I'm now the CEO of. And he had gone to Antarctica and came back very inspired to do something for the communities in India.

So he was planning to run an expedition where the idea was we get together a group of people from across the world, travel to Ladakh in the Himalayas and do something for the communities. And I met him and I heard his story was super inspired. I said, I want to join your mission. And I took 14 days of vacation leave from P&G and we travelled to the mountains and we set up an education centre for the local village kids there.

And that was really amazing to see that, in just two weeks, you could really bring a transformation in the lives of the people and create a tangible change. We kept in touch. And he also joined another company meanwhile, but in 2014, we decided, why don't we electrify a village this time?

Because there were many villages in that region without any access to electricity. And that meant trekking for three days from the nearest road, carrying solar panels and batteries in a backpack. And I again took a vacation of 14 days, we trekked all the way to this village, a thousand year old village.

And in just two days, we transformed this village from complete darkness to having electricity in each and every room with LED lights and solar panels. That was truly transformational. The fact that you as an individual or a group of individuals could really bring change at such a massive scale for a community that is now totally transformed.

And I remember, we, the whole village had gathered. We did a countdown three, two, one, and then we turned on the lights and it was just magic. People started dancing. There were tears of joy. We were, we all just. That instant gratification of being able to see so much genuine happiness on the faces of people was just priceless.

That sort of led me to, it led me to the fact that, ultimately, who are these mountains to decide which people should have access or which people should not have? If you have the right technology and if you have the right human willpower, then, you can bring everyone at par with access to development.

And I remember that night we did not sleep, we were not able to sleep because the villagers did not switch off the lights. They were seeing light for the first time in their lives, Sharath. And so that was really amazing to see. And then when I came back, I remember I wrote a blog about it, which was published in the PG newsletter P&G newsletter.

It was so well received and it was all about, the blog was more about work life balance where I was working with P&G, but to add on the side, I was doing this mission of. bringing development to remote communities in the Himalayas. I remember getting emails from my peers to technicians to even the directors and VPs.

Everyone was writing to me and telling me what a fantastic initiative and they really respect this and it's so great to see the work that we are doing. And that sort of led me to think then I started realising that why am I doing what I am doing? In 2015, I decided to take a sabbatical from P&G for four months.

And it was during that time, I remember that I was told that there's an opportunity to go to London. And if I want to apply with them, I remember the fabric care plant as an operations department manager. And I clearly remember my manager , Balaji Iyengar, calling me and he said look, we have this opportunity there.

Would you like, would you be interested? And he knew I was going on a sabbatical and I said, no I want to go on my sabbatical because that would have led me to cancel my sabbatical, which I was not ready to, because I was so focused now on going to the mountains for four months, to live there.

Explore every nook and corner, understand what communities need and try to figure out a development model around it. And I said, no. And this was a Thursday. I put the phone down. I called my parents up and I told them that, so and so offer. My manager called me so and so an offer came and I've refused.

My mother went mad. My father, she got my father on the call. They both were like, what are you doing? Can you think about what you're doing? Are you in your right mind? Because. Imagine like for parents, right? They always want the best for you. And suddenly you had this great opportunity of being in one of the best companies in the world, based out of London and for Punjabi parents, it's yeah, and their dreams are being washed away by the mountains. Exactly. And so they asked me to call Balaji back and tell him that, can you give me time till Monday to rationalise my thoughts and come back to you? And I did that. So I called Balaji again. He said, totally understand, take time till Monday, come back to me.

And over those three, four days my parents just asked me, they said that, okay, if you don't want to listen to us, talk to your friends, talk to your mentors, see what everyone has to say. And unfortunately, everyone said that, go to London. Because they said, we understand your passion for mountains and everything, this is something you'll be able to scale up even later.

But this is a great opportunity, not many people get it, you should go. So on Monday, I went back and I said no, because I was very clear in my heart and in my mind that where I want to go with this. And I remember that after one week, my sabbatical was beginning. My parents knew that I had lost it now. So they had now given up.

And four days into the sabbatical, I was stuck in a landslide. So I and a local person were going to survey a village. There was a landslide. First, he slipped, then I slipped and we were saved by a slab of rock, which was preventing us from just falling into the valley. And I was stuck there and then, there I'm thinking, was it a right choice to leave the article and now I'm stuck here?

But I think in those moments, it's when you realise why you're doing what you're doing. And for me, the only path was to move forward. And so we rescued ourselves, both of us luckily. And we managed to reach the village and carried out everything. And there were many incidents that happened during the sabbatical.

I fell into glacial water, being dragged by the water stream. This was in the month of October towards the end of my sabbatical. And I was pulled out by the villagers. And my whole body was just covered with ice sheets. And I still had two hours of trekking to go. So by the time I reached the village, I was totally hypothermic.

I was put in front of the fire for almost two hours, I remember. Still shivering, but I think the fact that you could really bring about a change in the lives of the people was what was always motivating me at the back of my mind. By the time I came back from my sabbatical, I had already made plans to quit.

I was invited to Davos in 2016 to be at the World Economic Forum. And I shared the story of the village transformation work that we are doing with the world leaders there. And I was able to mobilise support from a couple of companies. And that was enough for me to then go back immediately, put my papers and quit.

So that was the sort of journey of change that happened. 

Sharad: What a powerful story. Jaideep. I had goosebumps throughout the story. There's so many moments there where you describe the village and you describe that countdown. It was almost like we were feeling the countdown and you can suddenly see the lights come on and the village excited and then of course the dilemma.

I was wondering as your parents asked you to question the decision that you made and go to London. And then you come back to Balaji and say, Hey, I want my sabbatical. I'm not going to London. What made you take that call, which was against everyone, against all the advice that you were getting?

Making up his mind amidst the big dilemma

Jaideep: I think there were two changes that had happened in my thought process.

One was money was not a motivating factor for me. That was a huge shift because I remember, early from IIT days, like I said, it always used to be Get promotion, get paid the highest, always compare with your peer group. But then when I started doing these journeys to the Himalayas in 2013, the thought process shifted in me that money was not a motivating factor.

It was more with the privilege I have, what can I do more? So those two things really shaped the decision for me. And I knew at the back of my mind if all fails, I can always come back to any corporation and I can still earn a decent living. So I think. Once you are very sure of what is your worst case scenario, then decisions become very easy for you.

And in my case, that was how it played out.

And I had become so fixated by that time to go to the mountains and to bring change. Then everything else became immaterial for me basically. 

Sharad: Great story, the motivation itself was a strong driver and then with the rational thought as well. You knew you had a safety net to go back to.

Now you make the decision, you join this organisation, I understand you joined as chief operating officer, worked your way up to a CEO and together with the founder who you spoke about, both of you co-founded this, you created this company. What was that experience like from day one, creating this company?

The experience of creating a company from day 1

Jaideep: I think the experience was real. I would say powerful, gratifying, and also humbling at the same time. The initial years were spent a lot travelling to remote corners of the Himalayas. We have surveyed every nook and corner. I, in fact, can probably say that we know more than the local people.

And we have been to more places than the local people. We really took a lot of time in, in surveying all these areas, in understanding the needs of the communities and understanding. What can be the possible technology solutions that can be installed in these areas?

And so a lot of time was invested in that. And that sort of laid the foundation for the work that was supposed to come after. Any development intervention that you bring to the communities, it's really important. It has to be a two way street. You are, you cannot say that you are helping the communities.

You are enabling them with technology solutions, solar power, health centres. Home stays, education access digital access, but in return, you're taking back the smiles and the gratification of being able to bring development. Also, it's important to understand that the community understands the technology.

They understand the intervention. If you push things, they will never be accepted, but it has to be a pull. So to create that pool, we spent a lot of time understanding the needs of the people staying with them. We've stayed with the villagers in their homes and we have slept on barren grounds.

We have slept with yaks at one point of time. We have slept in tents. We have slept in every difficult condition you can imagine because that is how the villagers live there. So what looks like an adventure for us is like a daily routine for them. And so it was important to step into their shoes, understand the world from their perspective, and then bring them any solutions which can improve their lives.

So the first couple of years was really spent into that. And then of course, growing the organisation, finding the right people. Who share the spirit of development. And I think that we found people organically as we started telling our story, there was a lot of media coverage also. So I remember NDTV the national news channel in India, they came and did a documentary about our work.

Then national geographic did a one hour documentary on our work around how. Mini grids are empowering remote Himalayan communities. Then we had the BBC come and do a documentary. So there was a lot of footage that we were getting. And in that result, we were also able to find really like minded people who saw the work we were doing or who were part of our journeys to these mountains to bring development and who wanted to join us.

So everyone in our organisation till date has joined us. has joined us organically. We have never approached anyone through LinkedIn or any of these platforms. People like the story. They want to join the mission and they want to be part of this journey.

Sharad: such powerful points that Jaideep for a lot of us who are thinking of any level of social entrepreneurship.

I like the first point where you made it's not charity. You're not helping people. It's a symbiotic relationship. You're giving them something. You're getting something, whether it's smiles or gratification. I love that point. And I also love the point of you're not smart enough to tell them what they need to do.

You need to spend time with them, understand their unique needs, and together you can help build things for them. So that mindset is so powerful in being able to create something sustainable. Love that. Thanks for sharing that Jaideep. Now, as you are doing this, there's one part of the brain which is focused on the good that you're doing and getting energy out of that.

There probably is another part which needs to think of the business element of it. And of course, getting people was easier, but the other business element, the economics, there's money, they're spreading the words, evangelising, and both then take the company forward. Is that how you sensed it? Or how did you work the commercial plus the social entrepreneurship angle?

How did Jaideep work out the commercial and social entrepreneurship angle?

Jaideep: Initially, the focus was not really on commercials, it was setting up a development model and understanding what kind of technology solutions are required by the communities. Initially when we set out to form the company, the idea was first setting up a development model and really understanding what the communities need, because once that was set up, you knew the commercial angles would come in in a relatively easier manner, because for us, the focus was always on development and that has still been the core focus of the company and what we realised was there were two models that we set up.

One was Where we were working directly with foundations and CSR companies in India and deploying projects on the ground where we were charging, let's say, a project management fee that became the way to put food on our table and also to grow our organisation and to hire more people. And the other one was where we were doing these expeditions, which we started calling as leadership expeditions.

We would do it in two ways, B2B and B2C. So B2B would mean we would tie up with companies like GE, Aon and some other companies where they would send their employees as part of a leadership development expedition to the mountains. And we had people from all over the world. VPS directors in the companies who would come on the ground, electrify a village and really understand.

So it is the five elements of leadership where you envision, energise, engage, execute and enable. So I think those and the whole element of Soviet leadership was really at a strong play in these expeditions. So people learned a lot through that. Then we had the B to C where we were inviting people to join our trips, which we were promoting on our website.

And then we had the project development work that we were doing and then COVID hit which led to these expeditions going down to zero. But then it also gave us time to really look at what other development models exist. And that's where we also started looking at carbon financing because nowadays there's a lot of push on companies to become net zero where they want to offset their emissions by sort of either by improving their own supply chains, optimising their supply chains and moving to renewable energy.

But also by offsetting their emissions through carbon credits. And so what we realised was there's a huge market there where we could deploy clean energy solutions for the communities and generate carbon credits, which can then be sold to these companies. And that's sort of spun out a whole new revenue stream in itself, where we could now mobilise financing for communities where earlier nobody was interested in, but now suddenly, because there was this carbon credit element, we had a lot of financing being mobilised.

to bring development solutions to these communities. And so we are working with a lot of companies in India and outside India as well who want to become net zero. And we are enabling them in their mission while being able to create a positive impact on the communities on the ground. So I think there's what I've realised is if you're, if you are very focused on the impact, the revenue streams eventually turn out because people on the ground are smart enough.

We have smart enough people in the team who are able to map out. That impact vertical can be linked to what revenue stream and revenue is not the main you commercially, we are not looking at a very high profit margin or really scaling up the company because it's easier to do that.

But the challenge is the sustenance of it. So what we are looking at is we have to be very sure of the impact we create. We are small but we are beautiful and we ensure that when I'm talking to you, Sharad, if I tell you the first village was electrified in 2014 and the solar grids are still working fine.

Okay. The villages are still using the solar grids for all their daily lighting needs and all their aspirational needs. That for me is success versus telling you something. Now you go to that village and find nothing is working. 

Sharad: Absolutely get it. I love that point of where you started a business because of a certain purpose.

And if you focus single mindedly on impact, the revenues and others will come to the different ways of looking at the business. You're not starting with, Hey, how do I get revenue? You're starting with, how do I make the impact? And then revenue is an enabler on that impact. So that's a great way to look at these kinds of businesses.

Jaideep: Just to add more to that. I think what we also believe within our team is that if we really had to earn a lot of money, I should have still been with P&G. I should not have quit. So like I said, money was, definitely you need money on the table, but I love this book called the psychology of money, right?

So where it is about defining what is enough for you, right? So for me, I think for me and my wife and as a family, we have been able to define what is enough for us. And beyond that, everything else is aspirational. And I remember when I moved from P&G to join GHE, I took like a, almost like a, I went to one fourth of my salary.

And like I said, that was never the motivation. Even today, for me, it is more about when I go to a place where I find that their community is still deprived of development, the pressure on my mind is how do I mobilise financing to bring development to these communities? The pressure is not how do I earn more money?

Because if I have to do that, I can frankly. Leave all this and go back to a corporate job. That's always on the table. That's really not the motivator. 

Sharad: Such good clarity, Jaideep. Such good clarity. I was wondering through this experience, were there any adversities as you go to these remote lands that you faced?

What were the adversities Jaideep faced in the remote lands?

Jaideep: Every area has a different challenge. And I'll just walk you through some examples. So when we were in the mountains in the Himalayas, there were always these risks of landslides, of, being thrown into glacial waters. I met with a lot of logistical challenges once the solar grids were being carried by horses and donkeys, the horses apparently got a bit stray and we lost the solar panels or we lost wire bundles.

So there are a lot of these logistical challenges that happen in these areas, but I think it's the love of the communities, the warmth and the love that you get from the communities that allows you to overcome all these challenges. And then we, when we moved to the northeast part of India. I remember the first village we were electrifying. My engineer and I were in a village in the jungles, and suddenly the local villagers came and said, sir, we have to run, there are bandits coming.

We did not understand what they were saying because these villages are close to the Bangladesh border. Typically what these bandits do is they'll kidnap you, take you towards the other side of Bangladesh and they'll ask you for ransom money. And so initially I did not understand what they're saying, but then they said we have to run and we were in one part of the village in the jungle and from there we went to the main village.

It was a 15 minute trek through the jungles and we ran through that in the middle of the night and we kept falling, got bruised multiple times. We finally reached the main village and there the whole villagers had gathered and I was told by the village head, of course, I can't speak their language, so it's always through a translator and there were like two translations happening and they said, sir, don't worry, we'll take care of you.

And I, there was no phone signal. I could not call anyone. I could not call for any help. And my engineer and I are wondering, what do we do? And I told my engineer, look, I'm the one who looks different here because I wear a turban. I'm a stick. And I'm like, if they have to kidnap, between the two of us, they'll kidnap me.

So don't worry. And he started laughing. And, but I remember that entire night we did not sleep. Even if there was a dog barking, we used to get scared. And we were making plans of where to hide throughout the entire night. Anyway, nothing happened. In the morning, we got up and the villagers said that our team of young people had made a perimeter across the village.

And we were, if anyone would have come, we would have definitely stopped them or we would have cut them or whatever. And I'm like that day, then I wondered, should I go back now? Should we? And this was the first village we were electrifying. Should I go back for my own safety and for the safety of my engineer?

Like I said, there was no phone signal. I could not even inform my wife as to what's happening. But then I realised, if I go back, how does it make me different from anyone else who would have been in this situation and would have turned back? And again, my father said, if everyone goes north, you go south.

So we stuck back in the village. We worked around the clock. The villagers also joined in and we set up the entire solar grids. And again, that night I remember the celebration continued till four in the night and that was 21st December. This was a Christian community in the Northeast. They are, they were converted into Christianity.

They, of course, follow the tribal culture as well. And Christmas was on 25th December, but the entire village told me that they have never had such a huge celebration even on Christmas. that they were having because of the electrification of the village. And so till 4 am we just kept dancing and enjoying and there was a celebration in the village.

So I've realised access to development has led to some of the best celebrations I've seen in the village and some of the insane dancing happening, singing, dancing and merrymaking throughout the entire night. That never happens in any other area. And this is irrespective of the culture or the religion of the...

We have had villagers who were Muslim and they said that we have never had even big celebrations at Eid that are happening today because of the electrification of the village.

Sharad: Such a powerful point Jaideep develops and getting what a lot of us consider basic is more powerful, goes beyond, transcends religion and so many things and the kind of celebration you get out of that is, is unbelievable.

What a fascinating story. Now, Jaideep, you're going to the mountains, you keep travelling and doing this work. But I also know you have a family, you have a wife, you have a three year old daughter. How do you balance work and life?

Balancing work and life

Jaideep: In the initial years, there was a lot of travel so almost for, in a calendar year, almost six to seven months, I would be out on the road.

And unfortunately that time there used to be no phone signals also, so I had no idea of what was happening back home. So it was tough. But I think my wife and family, they really supported me a lot, especially my wife, who was the one when I was dating her. She was the one who convinced me to quit. A lot of credit goes to her as well and I follow my passion and dreams.

And I think, so that's definitely been a huge support system. And now the travel has reduced because now we have teams, we have capable people on the ground who manage. So even now, once a month for a week, I do travel to these areas, but now of course there is. The mobile penetration has increased and that has also led to a lot of awareness in the villagers.

So a lot of the earlier I remember once we were in a village in Nagaland in the northeast part of India and the village got electrified because there was a lot of noise and celebration. We were visited by three people from a nearby militant camp with guns and they asked where is the person and of course I was there so you know they were requesting that can we also get solar for our militant camp and I was wondering you know in my mind how do I tell them that no company in India Or outside would find a electrification for a militant camp.

But I think it goes to show that everybody needs development. Everybody needs access. Everybody needs to modernise in this day and age. And a lot of people also ask me, aren't you spoiling these villages by giving them access to development? Now they will have access to the internet. They will get spoiled.

Frankly, like I said, it's never a push. It is always a pull. The communities demand these developments. Otherwise, they will cease to exist. If a village does not have any access to development, the villages will ultimately migrate to the towns and the rich culture and heritage and their farmlands will just cease to exist.

And nobody wants that. People think it's a good thing to migrate to the towns. But if you ask the villagers, they don't want to migrate to the towns. They want to continue to stay in their farmlands where they can grow their own food. They don't have to spend any money. And if they can get access to education and digital tools for their kids.

That's what they want, staying in the villages. So for us, the whole idea is to create smart carbon neutral villages that are really the future for these communities. And in that work, I've seen that as, and as over the years, access to roads has increased, access to mobile connectivity has increased, at least now I can do video calls back home so that my daughter does not miss me.

She, of course, now realises earlier, she did not realise where my father is going and coming back, but now she knows that I'm going, okay, now he's going. So there's a lot of crying that happens again, it's beautiful to have that family support system. I'm really proud of my teams also on the ground that we have been able to build over the years that are allowing me to now spend more time with my family.

Sharad: Your sabbaticals are even more, you're working even harder in your sabbaticals than your normal work. So do you ever take the foot off the gas pedal? Do you ever just relax and leave all these things and just take some time off?

Jaideep: Unfortunately or fortunately, no. I think there's so much excitement every day.

In this world of social entrepreneurship, where you are hustling every day, it's a very unpredictable life. It has led me to a lot of opportunities. I remember when I had gone to Davos in 2018, I also had the privilege of meeting the CEO, then David Taylor.

So I had the opportunity to meet David Taylor at Davos. And I was thinking, had I been in P&G, I would never have had the chance to do that. And then suddenly I'm there and I'm telling him my story. And we had a five minute conversation on how P&G really helped me to do what I was doing as a social entrepreneur.

And so it was really great. So life is very unpredictable. You go to places. You meet amazing people. So at one end of the spectrum, you are meeting all these CEOs and all these politicians and talking about your work. And on the other spectrum, you are living with the villagers and trying to see what more you can do for them.

So I think it's, is this diversity of work? It's this unpredictability that sort of really excites me every day. I was telling everyone the other day that when you're working for a company, you work Monday to Friday, Saturday, Sunday, you can switch off, right? As a social entrepreneur, you're working every day because every conversation you're trying to see, okay what could be not in a transactional manner, but also.

You're trying to just speak out your mind. See if there can be any other ideas that can be generated. So it's always, you're always on and you're always off. I think you switch between the two. So it's never, I don't ever feel burnt out. I don't always feel very excited, but maybe that's just me.

Sharad: I was reading somewhere about burnout. There's a graph between the kind of gratification that you get and how much you extend yourself. 

And if you're always getting that gratification, even if you're extending yourself, you're still within the burnout limit without getting burnt out. So interesting to hear that. Jaideep, as you think about the future, what are your plans for the next 5 to 10 years?

Jaideep: So the vision is really to become a one stop shop for rural development communities. Like we go in and we have the entire portfolio of impact that we can bring to a community. Starting from electrification, health, education, livelihood, low carbon solutions. And so that's what we are doing right now.

And the mission is to expand across multiple geographies. Right now we are working across several geographies in India. We have just opened up our operations in Nepal. And we are now planning to expand to some of the African countries as well, such as Uganda and Rwanda. So it's really about expanding to multiple geographies across the world.

And in 10 years I see, That G H E becomes like this company that is known to create positive social impact on the communities and leave behind a sustainable change rather than just like a one time transformation. So it's really about creating that sustainable change that really alleviates the sustainable development goals in these areas.

And because I frankly firmly believe that if you are to truly achieve the sustainable development goals. Unfortunately, we won't be able to achieve them by 2030 being very realistic, but they have to be achieved in the remotest corners of the world and not just in Singapore on a teddy.

So it's about really bringing development access to these communities and really bringing the next generation of people that are living in these areas with hope and aspiration. That they too can have a life as compared to their counterparts in Delhi or Mumbai. 

Sharad: With your passion, people in these corners are already seeing it and they're starting to believe and hope is the starting point and then you're actually making it happen.

So what a wonderful thing to do as a purpose driven leader yourself, who's running a social entrepreneurship. What advice would you give to leaders in large organisations? How can they bring about purpose in their organisations?

Jaideep: I think when you talk about the big challenges in the world right now, climate change is definitely on everyone's agenda and creating a sustainable world for a future generation. So I think if people can then link their business results with how it translates to creating a sustainable future for the generations that are to come, that is a very strong purpose for people to believe in and to rally behind.

For example, I had this webinar with them. P&G baby care unit, where we had all the directors and the VP. And I told them one thing that I would love to see change within P&G. For example, is. We have these five rocks, right? Or we have those work and development plans. Yes. And we used to have goals that, reducing plastic usage or saving money.

But the goal always used to be to save money or provide better financial results. But can that financial result be actually translated into a meaningful goal that can impact our planet? For example, if you're in operations, if you're into packaging, If you are able to reduce the plastic usage by 1%, what does that result to?

How many tons of plastic are being taken away from our earth or how many communities will it benefit? I think if you are able to bring that external linkage. into communities into base generation instead of just a money that I think is a huge ship because for any employee then they can then feel that I am able to also contribute to making our world a better place to live in and I firmly believe that had I been in P&G, the scale of impact that I can have working in an organisation like P&G would have been much larger than being a social entrepreneur.

But of course, being a social entrepreneur, I'm able to do things that I want to do.

So I think that's where organisations start to think that they should start to think in that manner. That is how each and every goal is listed on the work plans or on the company's goals and mission statement. Links to the environment and not just do lip service to it because that is where a lot of kids are not talking about.

They want to become more sustainable. They want to be associated with brands that are sustainable. They want to ensure that we are able to arrest climate change. And imagine if your organisation is able to translate those goals into tangible actions for the climate. Then that's something that you have really built a strong purpose for everyone.

And that does not mean that everyone has to become a social entrepreneur. That means even if you're working in a banking, finance consultancy, FMCG, or manufacturing, any vertical, you are able to really contribute positively to the plan.

Some interesting facts about Jaideep

Sharad: Jaideep. Thank you for this entire conversation. The final question before we wrap up. What's one final piece of advice or even a challenge you'd like to give the next generation?

Jaideep: I think the only challenge or advice that I would have is that if you have some ideas, even if it's as crazy as you think it might be, go out there and do it. I think I really believe in the slogan that Nike has, just do it. Because often we get caught up in thinking the pros and cons, what would happen, what would not happen.

I think life is too short and you need to have that confidence in yourself. Even if nothing happens, you can always come back to whatever you used to do earlier. So I think just go out there, experiment and just enjoy life as you do it. And don't let money be the only motivator in life.

Sharad: Great motivation as we wrap up and Jaideep, this has been such a wonderful conversation. You're doing so much good for society. We need so many more people like you, as you were talking about the mountains and the villages and how lives are being impacted. I want to leave Singapore and go there.

Then of course, I saw the photo of my two daughters and my wife and I staying put, but at some stage, I'd love to join you in the mountains. Thank you very much for making time for this today.

Jaideep: Thank you so much, Sharad, and thank you for weaving so beautifully across all the questions and making it so natural. I think you're an expert in what you do.

Thank you for such an inspiring conversation, Jaideep. For more such conversations, you can check out learning from leaders, the P&G alumni podcast. This is accessible to everyone. We will drop a link to the podcast in the show notes. Here's an action step. All of us could consider. Is there any purpose driven project you feel passionate about? How can you bring it to life? Even if you don't work full-time on it. How can you contribute your time? Part time or even contribute funding towards it.

What's the best way to fulfil this? All the best as you think about it. That's it for today's episode. I hope you enjoyed it. We will be back with another episode two weeks from now on October 10th. We're covering a fascinating topic Brain health As we speak with a true expert in the field Santiago Brand I Hope you join us for that Did next time have a wonderful day ahead Bye-bye.