Think Big, Start Small – “It is all about whether you reached where you want to be” – Sonal Kapoor, Founder Protsahan

MDI invited me to be part of a panel with four other bright young entrepreneurs to address their B-School graduates recently and I am glad that I was there. Each of the four – Amit Kharabanda from tech world, Sachin – a publisher and talent scouter, Sonal Kapoor – a social entrepreneur, Matteo chiampo – an investing evangelist – is very inspiring. As they spoke I captured my own learning notes and their stories. I thought of sharing those notes, one after another…as part of my Think Big Start Small, series..

Being a passionate photography-enthusiast, I am a regular at the exhibitions.. and I noticed at Delhi Photo Festival in 2011, a display of beautiful photographs taken by young boys and girls facilitated by a social endeavor, Protsahan. I was delighted to meet Sonal at MDI who is the might behind this flight of Protsahan.

Sonal Kapoor, the passionate lady of Protsahan

Here is the story of Sonal Kapoor – MBA 2009, Founder – Protsahan

  • I am a microbiologist by training, before I went on to do my MBA
  • I loved making films, so I joined an advertising agency and was making films; I was with a team
  • I have always been sheltered during my upbringing, Delhi does not offer much to learn I realized
  •  I was doing an assignment, shooting a film for a corporation from Netherlands
  •  As part of the assignment, near ashram in Delhi, there is a place where your come across people with Alzheimer’s
  •  A 96 year old who was Alzheimer’s and leprosy patient was made to do something for the shoot so many times, in order to the ‘right effect’. That is so painful for the person and for me to experience.
  •  I protested to the creative guy of the agency, even spoke to higher ups in the agency of no avail; I left the shoot;
  • That day it struck me, why am I not doing something for the marginalized
  • I took a cam, went a little far and shot a woman in the slum in Uttamnagar; she had six daughters; pregnant with the seventh; I had an apple that I gave to the child; for the first time, they ate an apple; then the conversation with the mother started… on a meager support from husband; for financial support, got to know that the eldest daughter is working in a brothel; pregnant with the seventh, she said – “if the child is a boy ok, but if girl, I will strangle her”
  • I judged the mother in a way that I repent now; never judge
  • Opportunity cost of not sending the child to earn is high.
  • I wanted to start a school and I wanted the school to go to Julie’s home
  • How do I make every kid happy; and also  enable them have skills to support the family


  • The school helps them to do creative work – photography – still and film-making, pre-dominantly
  • Rest is a wonderful story.. catch on
  • Core Values that form the bed-rock of our endeavor

                 – empathy        – creativity       – sustainability

  • Last year we worked with 8000 children
  • Now three schools, two in Delhi and one in Pune

There are innumerable stories and learning – The girl child did not talk, as father was no more with the family; child watched mother delivering and was shell-shocked, and we had to help her come out of it..

  • I have found that money never comes. You need to do what you believe in;
  • The investors talking about what will be the ROI in the business of sexually Invectives
  • Since then I kept the investors at bay and told myself that is it..
  • in 14 months I got a call from World bank – they want us to present what we do in front of the world;
  • I realized our work is making that difference…
  • So much to do..
  • entrepreneurship is all about attitude
  • it is all about whether you reached where you wanted to be… the journey is ongoing..

Sonal is very inspirational. We need more  Sonals to make this world even better… I would love to contribute in a small way to the cause….


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