Judah darwinDirector: International Accelerator
I got involved in Smart Villages at the end of the Phase One. I assisted in organizing the smart village launch with the Chief Minister on December 29th, 2016. Witnessing the craze over this idea and seeing the kind of innovation and innovators that were attracted to this concept grabbed my attention. On the flight home to San Francisco, I sat next to a colleague who worked on Smart Villages. Our tickets were not coordinated, and we left Mori at separate times, but we happened to sit next to each other on the plane ride from Dubai to SFO. I spent the entire ride discussing the opportunity that Phase Two would present to me and how I wanted to be a part of the movement.
There was one problem, I am amidst my education at UC Berkeley for Political Science. Without telling anyone, I applied for a deferral from Berkeley and to my surprise, I was granted the deferral. My mother was extremely upset with me, and my grandfather has been quite concerned that I won’t continue my education. So on May 28th, 2017 I moved from San Francisco to a small village in Andhra Pradesh, Mori.
In Mori, life deviates rashly from the life I lived in San Francisco. Common luxuries I thought were necessities were no longer available. After a month or two, I had adapted the hard way through sickness and mistakes until I was able to get into the rhythm of living in a village. Along with this, I worked hands-on with almost every project that we undertook as I was the main front for corporate relations. The logistics and intricacy of the rural world were once foreign to me even though my father hailed from the very village I was living in.
I truly had to live on the ground to acquire the authentic experience. I found myself gaining expertise in fields that I had no interest in before but quickly found attractive. I vehemently pursued several projects through which brought me a greater understanding of healthcare, education, business, politics, etc. in the village setting. Through this project, I also gained an understanding of co-innovation, open innovation, and business models. I consulted several companies on the right approach and strategy to entering the rural markets. I look forward to contributing to this movement as I continue my studies at Berkeley and desire to participate in a big way when I did with my education at Berkeley.