Ameya Agrawal (28), alumni of MIT, Pune, is an engineer turned social entrepreneur. He is the founder of SkillSlate Foundation-A non-profit organization working to make education, skills, and opportunities accessible to all, and is also the CEO & Development Director of Mahatma Gandhi Seva Sangh (MGSS)–An NGO with over two decades of experience in working for the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities (PWDs) and promoting accessibility.
When the pandemic struck, and all forms of learning came to a virtual standstill, he realized that it was high time that the community needed an initiative that could help them use the virtual method of learning, build social capital and assist them in making more robust skill sets.
Being actively involved with educational initiatives and various institutes since his engineering days, Ameya realized the gap in the industry and found his calling.
With this very aim, Ameya started SkillSlate. “Education is the ultimate leveller,” he says. “Coming from the small town of Bhusawal in Maharashtra, since my childhood, I have seen and experienced the drastic positive change that access to education can make in people’s lives”, he added.
He was known in the academic community for his training programs, social work, and his writings, especially his popular self-help book A Leap Within, which he published at the age of 21, earning a National Record.
Ameya, along with reputed educational institutes, corporates and academic experts, started conducting online workshops, training programs, and conferences for people. These programs would even cater to people from the remotest parts of India. His initiative soon became popular in the academic fraternity and corporates, and more and more people started to join the community.
For the past one and half years, SkillSlate has worked with over 25,000 individuals, including Vice-Chancellors, Directors, Deans, Professors, Teachers, Students, and Professionals across India and abroad on domains ranging from Soft Skills and Personality Development to industry-specific technical domains such as Big Data and Cybersecurity.
Over 90% of their programs are free to attend to make learning accessible to all.
“These are surprising times; while many opportunities are lost, and people are struggling, the pandemic has also provided new possibilities to grow.
A child born in an obscure village can access the best educational institutions. Technology has brought us the opportunity to connect to a system where we can help people gain knowledge that would be otherwise impossible for them ever to achieve. This can become possible by education through virtual platforms. Online education has dramatically transformed the quality of education available in our country and has made learning affordable, more manageable, and accessible to people. This increases the responsibility of all the individuals, and the playing field is almost levelled, and the competition is bound to rise,” He said.
Continuing his work to make opportunities accessible, Ameya joined MGSS as CEO. MGSS is one of the most prominent NGOs working in this field and has a presence across Maharashtra and Goa.
“India has almost everything available for the growth and development of its citizens, but unfortunately, it is not accessible,” he said.
He further added that “As per WHO report, around 10% of the total population has some disability. This is a huge number, and we want to ensure that these people are not deprived of any necessities.
MGSS acted as a catalyst in the donation of assistive devices worth INR 100 crores ( $13+ Million) to persons with disabilities and helped in the rehabilitation of over 50 thousand individuals across Maharashtra and Goa through its 9 District Disability Rehabilitation Centres. To make its work truly accessible, MGSS has also developed a mobile van that can reach remote villages and fabricate artificial limbs and assistive devices for the people.
MGSS also has expertise in conducting surveys of PWDs. It believes that it is essential to understand the accurate data of the beneficiaries and their lifecycle.
MGSS also works with State and Central governments on multiple projects for policymaking and its implementation.
Ameya’s work earned him admission at the coveted Harvard University, USA, earlier this year in 2021 to pursue his Master’s Degree in Education Leadership and Entrepreneurship, which he believes will help him influence the policymakers and bring educational reforms accessibility.
When asked about his plans in life, Agrawal said, “Currently, I have deferred my admission at Harvard as I believe that there is a lot to work for back here in India, so I feel I am needed here more than in the USA. I am committed to working for upskilling of the people and the rehabilitation of PWDs.
To know more about him, you can connect with him on: https://links.skillslate.org/profiles