At 21 years old, Saumya Krishna has already taken her first steps to changing the world. The third-year Western University student was selected to participate in the inaugural year of The Next 36 business competition in 2011 and since then, entrepreneurship has become her passion.
“‘Entrepreneurship’, as I see it, is a way of thinking,” she says. “I had flirted with a number of career possibilities in the past, unable to identify a path that felt truly right and satisfied my desire to fully live with freedom and impact. Once I understood the ‘entrepreneurship’ mindset, I could not imagine myself becoming anything but an entrepreneur.”
And with her tendency to go above and beyond, simply being an entrepreneur wasn’t enough. Saumya is a social entrepreneur. “There is a sense of fulfillment I derive from developing innovating solutions to complex problems and creating positive social value for the world.”
Having learned business skills, gaining high-powered contacts, and experiencing a boost in self-confidence through The Next 36, Saumya started her first venture: The Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund.
Young people have the inspiration and drive to start social ventures, but Saumya explains that they typically lack the funding to turn their ideas into a reality.
Saumya therefore set out to help connect young entrepreneurs with resources. The YSI-CF team of CEOs, social entrepreneurs, consultants and thought-leaders give out micro-loans of $1,000-$10,000 to young social entrepreneurs who pass their application process. In addition, they connect these entrepreneurs with non-financial support including mentorship, workshops and networking opportunities.
Giving up her summer in the sun, Saumya headed from London, Ontario to Toronto to set up the YSI-CF offices and establish her business. The fund was officially launched in June and since then, Saumya and her team have received a great and very encouraging response.
“Even individuals who do not consider themselves frequent investors have approached us with an interest in providing small loans,” she says. “It is remarkable to see the amount of collaboration in the social finance and social entrepreneurship sectors.”
After only a few months, the fund has already helped young entrepreneur Illana Ben-Ari make their dream businesses come true. Illana had an idea for educational toys that promote “creativity, collaborative learning, innovation and problem solving”, and with the help of a YSI-CF loan, she was able to continue building her startup “Twenty One Toys.”
As for Saumya, she is working everyday, and even some weekends and evenings to help make these types of opportunities more widely available to youth. Things are definitely busy for the young game-changer and Saumya says this is just the beginning. She says she wants to keep solving the worlds problems, one step at a time, with unique ventures all her own and all the while “working with great people and having fun in the process.”
“The next chapter is unwritten,” she says, “but it will definitely be exciting!”