Recognising and Celebrating Entrepreneurial Spirit in Young Women

Recognising and Celebrating Entrepreneurial Spirit in Young Women

Congratulations to Upper Fifth (Year 11) student Imaan on winning the prestigious Atherton Award for Entrepreneurial Spirit for her outstanding efforts in establishing a charity in India which aims to help young people through sport and education.

Launched in 2019, this annual award is given to a student who displays entrepreneurial initiative. The prize is £500, an engraved trophy and two hours mentoring with Benenden Senior Amber Atherton.  Amber is a serial entrepreneur whose Y Combinator backed start-up was acquired by Discord. She is the author of ‘The Rise of Virtual Communities,’ published by Apress in 2023. Most recently she has crossed over into investing and is a partner at Patron VC, whose investment portfolio includes Tiktok, Strava, YouTube, Roblox, Duolingo, Ebay and Fitbit.

Imaan’s Story:

 “Last summer, my brother and I decided to take the initiative to help the young people we knew in Uttar Pradesh, India. With our clear vision in mind of bringing equity and social justice about, we thought that the most supportive and inspiring way we could achieve this was through sport and education.

“Of course, through our several visits to India, we were both profoundly influenced, which led us to found the Child and Youth Aid (CAYA) Foundation. The charity organisation solely started by us was targeted at the underprivileged children living on farms and villages in western Uttar Pradesh. Along with our clear vision, to inspire children even more, we had a clear focus, that through CAYA we would help marginalised communities develop a sense of disciple, fitness and enough intellectual curiosity to achieve their goals, whether big or small, hence CAYA’s slogan “Reach For the Stars.”

“CAYA’s sporting event last summer wanted for the children to recognise their talents which often go unsung. And especially for the girls of these villages, we wanted them to know that they too could compete amongst boys as in these types of villages they are often marginalised and overlooked. Coming from a school like Benenden, where girls are everyday inspired and motivated to chase their dreams and be pioneers of tomorrow, I knew that these girls deserved the same.

“It is important to keep in mind that this is only one of the villages that we managed to make a difference in, and that there are so many more. Following a successful event in the village of Sabdalpur, my plan is to extend this initiative to 40 more other villages, hoping to impact 4,000 more children. Through witnessing the positive impact of sports and education on these children in India, it has deeply contributed to broadening my perception of the under- privileged and has built on my empathy for others which in turn helped me to realise the things that we should be grateful for in everyday life.

“This endeavour allowed me to not only understand but also explore the socio- economic disparities as well as particularly build on my teamwork and collaborative skills. These, all in turn, also demanded the ability of communication. Along with the principles of teamwork, I had a chance to expand and widen my digital skills through promoting the charity itself and build on my problem-solving skills.

“It is safe to say that a lot of thought was taken into taking this idea further from having to promote our charity and take this idea across the world to ensuring that the children from these villages wouldn’t be fearful of attending the event itself. At first, there was much ambiguity to whether our idea was too far- stretching but overcoming these struggles meant keeping an open mind and realising that we had several resources that we could rely on such as my own ambition which would take CAYA very far.

“With the already established CAYA, my brother and I hope to hold more events across under-privileged areas hoping to make our ways into classrooms themselves and help to broaden the ideas of these children even more. With this platform, our goal is to establish and provide more and more, hoping one day that these children will be inspired by this idea and start their own initiatives in the future and carry CAYA’s legacy forward.”