Sushobhan Mukherjee


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Dighalgram – Ultimate Destination for Advanced Learning

Last Sunday (15-06-2014) my weekend destination was Dighalgram.

It was far away from City. In a busy Sunday schedule, I was very reluctant to go there. But somehow it was one of my good old friend who convinced me to go there. The agenda was to see the great works being done in rural education segment for the people having difficulties to have opportunity.

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The school was Dighalgram Netaji Vidyapith High School (DNVHS), situated 9.5 Km away from Habra. Several people from different segment arrived there as a part of Annual General Meeting.

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The initiative is by Future Society who aims to deliver affordable, efficient and effective educations for the people having no or limited education.

It was amazing experience where we found almost all teaching stuff including the Head Teacher was present in a holiday like Sunday in a government school for a non-profit social cause. The following implementations are already as a part of pilot project of Future Society:

  • DESH – Digitally Enabled Study Help
  • qCard – qCard is basically an effective assessment methodology using an application (developed by Microsoft TEM Research Team ) . qCard is a very effective means to implement Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) at schools.

NCERT (National Council Of Educational Research And Training) has invited the model school DNVHS at national seminar on 27th June in New Delhi for presenting for the project named ‘Development of reusable Learning Contents and interactive Student Response System with optimal information technology’.

We had seen all different classrooms and digital lessons already prepared on different subjects for various classes.

Overall wonderful experience and appreciate whole hearted efforts by the persons attached to it.

Let us all support and take part in this social cause in order to create it bigger, sustainable and scalable so that it can create a social revolution.

Big leap is on the way if all of us can join hands for our future generation.

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This is not Sales!

The entire section is dedicated to Raj Shankar, Co-Founder and Principal Strategist at Ichiban Business Consultants. , Raj is a trainer, mentor and consultant for early-stage entrepreneurs for their business growth, strategy building and thought leadership. I am regular follower of his blog http://rajshankar.wordpress.com/ .

I have attended two of his workshops and last one was last Saturday (14-06-20114). The agenda of the workshop was “Getting to Market” – Out of the Box methodology for customer acquisition and retention. It was arranged by NEN (National Entrepreneurship Network) and sponsored by IBM.

Sales is not like an Alien came from outer space. But in real life that is the apprehension. I have tried so many fresher to influence to join in Sales. But none of them shown interest, even MBA guys are not. They prefer working for Marketing (though they do not understand the difference between sales and marketing!).

In my professional and entrepreneurial life I have learnt, thought lot of different ways of sales. It was further validated, got strengthen by Raj during this workshop.

Sales is an art where we have to bridge between demand and supply. We need to understand demand, pain points, design solutions, promote value proposition and win the deal. But we fail due to various reasons, some of them are stated below:

  • We start dealing on prices and in effect starts bleeding even after getting the orders coz margins are much diluted.
  • We become desperate since we are small, we do not have resources.
  • We keep on chasing, trying to pitch product/services without being understood the message is being communicated to the customer in his terms
  • We communication value propositions in very generic ways like good services, best quality and so on and these does not any differentiating factors with our competitions since they also pitch the same.
  • We keep on searching customers instead creating own visibility so that customers can find us. Otherwise we keep on chasing wrong customers here and there whereas matching customers near to us cannot be reached.
  • The goal is being set ahead (as taught in management schools) instead of defining Capacities.

 

But let us not be upset on our mistakes. Let us try to improve on it in order to learn greatest art in any enterprise i.e “Sales”. This the pillar to success of any organization.

Let’s enjoy sales, Let’s celebrate entrepreneurship!


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Somaliland – The Journey to East Africa

Hargeisa! Did you hear the name? I did not before we got a project of consulting of security framework for the Mobile Money platform. Hargeisa is the capital for Somaliland. Please do not doubt of my general knowledge. But it is true I was not aware of a country named Somaliland.

Somaliland is bordered by Ethiopia in the south and west, Djibouti in the northwest, the Gulf of Aden in the north, and the autonomous Puntland region of Somalia to the east. Lot of my friends, colleges, family relatives suggested not to go there and all of us were apprehending this as part of Somalia and all of them were scare of pirates!  One of my friend referred me about a movie “Captain Phillips”. I have not seen it. But aspire to see it soon. But I did not even search once in Google about it. Believe me I am not claiming it now after my return, I did not feel to do it beforehand. I had only asked few queries about the geography to the client. My idea about any geography is that remote feedback we generally have is nothing but apprehensions, not true fact mostly.

Hargeisa is not well connected with Kolkata, India. Initially we had plan to go via Dubai so that journey will be little lesser (Kolkata to Dubai by emirates, Dubai to Hargeisa by Jubba Airways). But due to availability problem (Jubba goes on Saturday to Hargesia and return on Tuesday, only once in a week), we were forced to take different route. Kolkata to Mumbai (Jet Airways), Mumbai to Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines), Addis Ababa to Hargeisa. We started to 26th May, 2014 at late evening from Kolkata and reached at Hargeisa on 27th Afternoon at Hargeisa (there is a 2.30hours time difference with India). There was layovers in Mumbai and Ethiopia also. But we could enjoy good time in cloud 9 lounge since we were travelling by business class tickets. We were very upset on the Airport Terminal 1 condition in Ethiopia. It seemed to be very backward compared to international standard. Later realized Terminal 2 is better and advanced. Terminal 1 is backward since it is very old. The scanning process very interesting. They were more interested to scan leather items (shoe, belt etc) instead of inside contents of the bags.

Somaliland got independence on 18th May, 1991 after the civil war with Somalia and in effect entire country is in a growing stage. Road, building, industries all are being constructed gradually. Our Hotel (Star Hotel Hargeisa) was near to Airport (around 15-20 minutes’ drive). Our project was defining the architecture and implementing the information security framework in perimeter level for the Mobile Money infrastructure in both DC and DR. The project was completed seamlessly in 7days time as per schedule. Due course we could explore, navigate the geography, culture, and people in depth and below are few interesting observations:

  •  The city is like a valley. The roads are surrounded by small hills which are fully populated

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  • The cars are mostly Toyota in the road and majority of them having Silencer right side top (as per below snap)

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  • Driving rule is right lane, but there is a mix of driver position (left and right )
  • Weather is very nice. 30 degree at Daytime and 20 degree at night. Almost no humidity and in effect I could wear full sleeve shirt with blazer and did not face any problem
  • Very bright Sunlight due to no pollution.
  • There are two major Telecom Operators, but No POI (Point of Interconnect). Assume in india, one having Vodafone and other having airtel. But they cannot talk to each other. In effect everyone in that country carries both the SIMs so that communications can take place.
  • On the contrary, mobile money is very eminent instead of cash/debit card/credit card.

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  • Office timings are different. People come office in between 7 to 7.30am and takes a break for four hours at 12noon. Afar lunch, prayer and rest at home they comeback at 4pm and work till 6pm.
  • Friday is the holiday
  • There is NO ALCOHOL in the country
  • No entertainment facility outside home (like cinema hall etc)
  • Majority of general people cannot speak English. Local language is “Somali”. I tried to learn few word/sentences. But can recollect one at this moment “subah wangasan”. This means “Good Morning”.
  • One USD is equivalent to 7000 Somali currency. People earn in USD & spend in Somali. Both USD/Somali are accepted. I did not find a Somali note below 500. No coin etc available since those will be useless.

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  • Food habits are fully non-veg. There are no vegetables except salad, soup sometimes. Morning popular breakfast is Liver Fry. Entire day spreads with chicken, mutton, beef, camel meat.

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  • Food recipes are poor and could not found major brands (Like Mc Donald, Pizza Hut, KFC etc). We had something called “swarma” at USD 2 . It is nothing but Indian Chicken roll (though the taste is nowhere near indian roll). Biriyani, Chicken Momo, Chicken Roll all will have huge market potential here.

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  • People are very friendly and helpful. We are thrilled with the hospitality.

Entire Album can be seen under facebook album. Click here to view the same.

Overall awesome experience exploring east Africa. Looking forward navigating other African countries soon.

Africa Calling !