Just a day before Christmas, a special train left from Mumbai on an exciting 2-week journey. Over the next two weeks, the 500 entrepreneurial passengers will travel through some of the remotest corners of India to seek solutions to some of the most common problems that affect us today and drive a change. A change toward a thriving entrepreneurial nation

The energetic entrepreneurial minds will get a first-hand understanding of some of India’s most unique problems so they can think of relevant solutions. The travel group comprises some of the most enterprising women selected from small towns across India.

Coca-Cola Journey asked Dr. Suyog Bhavare about Jagriti Yatra, now into its tenth year, about Jagriti Yatra and the upcoming journey.

What is the mix of youth who are part of the exciting Jagriti Yatra that begins shortly? What will this group of youth looking to achieve at the end of it?

​​The diversity of youth participating in the yatra is very wide- we have 48 per cent women as yatris this year, and over 25 international yatris. ​51 per cent of the total yatris are already a part of the nation building activities through their ventures or various initiatives. The major takeaway for the yatris this year would be a sankalp that they take at our Kanyakumari event, a resolution that will be all about bringing changes across the length and breadth of India's entrepreneurial ecosystem.

What can the ‘Yatris’ hope to learn and imbibe when they meet the mentors when the train arrives at different locations?

​One of the main and common messages that each role-model guides towards is the role of consistency and perseverance when starting an enterprise. Be it Joe Madiath at Gram Vikas, or Anshu Gupta at Goonj, they all do point towards the role of the above-mentioned attributes. Sustainability is yet another factor that yatris learn about. The intricacies of starting an enterprise, or various ways of overcoming the myriad challenges of the yatra

Each year nearly 40 per cent of the ‘Yatris’ are women. How will the women entrepreneurs, who are part of the Jagriti Yatra, emerge richer after the 15-day trip?

Every year it remains our endeavour to have the equal number of males and females on the train; this year we have 48 percent of females as yatris. Yatra has always been a pivotal point for female yatris, empowering them to put forward their opinion and strive for their passion as a career choice. There have been multiple examples where yatrinis from conservative backgrounds have broken the nebulas that held them back, and have created impact not only in their vicinity but also made a name for themselves abroad.

Compared to earlier years, what is the profile of Yatris from outside India who will be part of the Yatra this year?

​International yatris have always played an important role in helping the yatris understand the contrast between their and Indian culture, and how it effects the overall journey of a yatri's life. Matthieu from France was so inspired by the yatra, that he replicated it in his own country. After understanding the rural Indian ecosystem, the mindset of the international yatris changes from creating social impact, to enabling individuals to themselves create social impact. Again the profiles of international yatris is extensively diverse, with people just moving out a university and at the ingress of their entrepreneurial journey to yatris with over 15 years of experience who have successful failures as part of their arsenal and have hoped over those stepping stones and tasted success.

With the experience over the last 10 years, what has been the learning that can be passed on to the ‘Yatris’, which could be a once in a lifetime opportunity?

​India in itself is an extensively diverse country, with every 2 kilometers having its own ethnicity and culture. 10 years though might seem a long time, it requires more than that to have the impact finding its existence to the grassroots level. 

If the last 10 years were about building this huge network of entrepreneurs, the next 10 years focus building the enterprise ecosystem in tier 2 and tier 3 districts of India to support these entrepreneurs. 

Based on the learnings of last 10 years, we are working towards developing an invigorating ecosystem for the aspiring change-makers in the serene environs of Deoria, a centre for entrepreneurial development, Jagriti Enterprise Center. 

Young entrepreneurs are now a thriving community in India. How have the contributions of the Rail Yatris contributed to this community?

Yatris majorly range between the age group of ​​20-27, on the train, having their roots connected to various strata of the Indian society, ranging from tier 1 to tier 4 districts of India. The current Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem has a significant portion being occupied by yatris directly or indirectly. The 4200+ strong alumni network is the strength over which yatris strive towards building their enterprises. It's a family that just keeps growing, and is amiable, you just need to ask. Yatris today either have been chairing some of the leading startups in the current Indian ecosystem, or are a part of the leadership or management team for the leading Indian start-ups like Ola, Oyo or Flipkart. The impact yatris have had isn't just limited to the Indian ecosystem, but has found symbiosis with the International ecosystem as well.

(Coca-Cola supports the initiative. Jagriti Yatra. It also actively promotes entrepreneurship among women, who are nearly half the people on the 15-day train journey)