In this episode of the Impact Podcast, Innov8social founder talks to Ketan Deshpande, CEO of FUEL which empowers local youth with opportunities. Ketan is an Ashoka fellow, and he started his work as early as 18, by connecting students with opportunities. The project FUEL started out of Ketan’s experience as a student and has now grown into a full blown social enterprise.

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Friends Union for Energising Lives (FUEL) is a non-profit organisation which has its origins in Pune, was initiated in 2006 and emerged from the idea of providing students with access to information and opportunities. FUEL started its service by providing career counselling, awareness sessions, building on career confidence among students in rural India. It has now grown to a level where more than 3 million students, are part of FUEL and more than 3000 institutions are working with FUEL. In 2012, Ketan received the Ashoka fellowship for his work in FUEL. Ketan works with a lot of corporations, and he lauds their effort in providing students with career opportunities. As the “Make in India” campaign is gaining momentum in India, Ketan feels the need for quality resources.

FUEL opened a helpline, which helps the students to know more about the application process for various universities. FUEL also has a text alert service to remind the students about application deadlines and other important deadlines. Ketan and team has built a career recommendation service, which takes in student inputs and comes up with recommended career options. FUEL starts as early as ninth grade where the students are presented, with view of various career options available and in tenth grade they take the psychometric test, which recommends possible career path for each individual. Personality, aptitude and interest are some of the key parameters, the test takes in as input, and they discuss the career options with the parents as well. In urban India, students have the option of video calling and connecting with FUEL. Recently FUEL has expanded its services to Uganda in Africa with the help of mobile penetration.

The Journey

Ketan faced a lot of challenges in the initial phases of FUEL. But the idea got the much needed morale, when he got a call from, then president of India Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam for a discussion. By 2012 he got the corporate support after he received the fellowship from Ashoka. Ketan felt very difficult to explain his career path as social entrepreneur as there were more lucrative options for making money. But he went on with his work and FUEL is now active in 11 states.  Ketan is confident about reaching out to students from underserved communities in all 29 states of India. His initial goal of reaching out to 1 million students, have now grown to 10 million. Neetal met with Ketan at the GES summit and they are both looking forward to the next GES summit in India.

Ketan attended the GES summit and is looking forward to have helping hand in raising awareness about his program among students. He is also open to work collaboratively with people with same mindset on technology and thought process. Ketan is getting help from a lot of well wishers,  for raising funds for students from underserved communities. People are also volunteering by going back to their schools to raise awareness about FUEL and career opportunities. And GES, Ketan’s thought process gained popularity, and there were many people who wants to do a similar thing back in their country.

Show Notes

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