Blindness is not an impairment, but a mere inconvenience’ is the mantra Sushmeeta Bubna, founder of NGO Voice Vision. To propagate this, the NGO along with K J Somaiya Institute of Management and Research, Vidyavihar held an entrepreneurship idea award over the weekend. Here, 10 blind persons from across the country pitched their business plans to the jury, with help from sighted Somaiya management students. The common thread was the blind’s aim to be self sufficient and independent.

A group of students along with the visually impaired entrepreneur present their ideas
A group of students along with the visually impaired entrepreneur present their ideas

Business models included online retailing of Warli print t-shirts, chocolate making, to websites for the blind. All these had to pass the very discerning eye of a tough, and eminent jury panel of Sanjeev Saraf, vice president of CII, Dr. Gaurav Buch, head HR at Rasna Ltd, Paroma Bhattacharya, incubation associate at Un Ltd. India and Vasant Sanke, former managing director of the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation. The jury put the management students, accompanying each blind entrepreneur, through a real roasting, with questions about business plans, feasibility and the revenue models.

Dr Gaurav Buch, judge took the students to task. “Ask yourself, is this idea feasible? Is the profit margin achievable? Apply the knowledge you have gained in classrooms here, otherwise this is pointless," he said.

A cash prize of Rs. 51,000, 31,000 and 21,000 respectively were given out to the top three ideas, to kick-start their businesses. Lions Club of Malad, IVFA Foundation, Taksheel Foundation and Rasna Ltd funded the cash prizes.