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The Glass Strangers is one of six teams shortlised for our MBA Challenge. In an FT interview, team members explain their motivations.

Why did you decide to enter the challenge?

Deepali: I wanted to fulfil a desire to work for the benefit of society and to utilise my education for the greater good. My personal experience with a four month old baby wearing corrective glasses was also a source of inspiration and motivation to enter the challenge.

Sudhanshu: I recently spent a few days at an NGO in India and have been involved in other social activities as well. I thought it would be a good opportunity to give my input to Sightsavers. I was also more inclined as the work proposed would be beneficial for my own country people.

Ashish: I decided to participate because it is a unique challenge where you can work side by side with competitive students from top universitys in the world. It also gives an opportunity to find a solution to a real life social issue affecting millions in the world.

Fenna: I did a masters in design previously and am doing one in manufacturing now. For me, writing this business plan is a way to explore how this part of doing business works. The fact that it is for Sightsavers and we can actually make a difference is also very motivating.

Pankaj: I come from a small town in India so I understand the sitgma. I would like to be involved in something that will make a difference.

Why do you think your business plan should be chosen?

Deepali: Our business plan hits the culture of India: the art and power of storytelling. We grew up with stories. Every child loves to read comics. The power of characters in these stories is tremendous. How they influence us is the crux of our business plan. We believe it will be a successful approach in transforming the minds of the people and help them leave behind the stigma associated with wearing spectacles.

It will target two sections of the society: in the first phase we will target children and work towards building their confidence and encouraging the use of spectacles. In the second phase, we will target adults and the acceptance associated with wearing spectacles.

Rohit: Having lived in India, over the past 30 years I have seen and understood the problem first hand of children not wearing glasses due to the fear of being ostracised by other students. This happened many times in the society and school around me. Hence we think that this personal touch in creating our business plan is our biggest asset as we understand the problem in depth.

Sudhanshu: It is transparent and contains all the basic details. It is targeted to work at the grass root level and with the minimum cost of capital.

Pankaj: Most Indian villages don’t have money for entertainment. Storytelling is the best way to communicate in their culture - it is a way to educate children.

How have you found the experience of working with students in other regions?

Fenna: Working together with a group who understands the region and has access to the people there is a big advantage, since I have never visited India myself. Without the internet and Skype we couldn’t do this project. But it certainly has disadvantages too: we are dependent on all the connections to function properly when we meet online. Sadly, this is not always the case, causing some delays!

Ashish: It has been an exciting experience working with students from different regions. There are more advantages than disadvantages. We have different perspectives on social issues, for example and details about the demographics and cultural idiosyncrasies are dealt with from multiple angles.

How do you feel your MBA has helped you with the challenge?

Ashish: To me an MBA is not just a degree; it is a tool that helps leaders create value. For the challenge, the MBA has helped me ask political, societal, cultural and economic questions that I wouldn’t have thought of earlier.

Compiled by Charlotte Clarke

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

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