Tuesday, 6 October 2015

HOW I GOT HERE – Featuring Shaheen Mistri

This column in CAP's newmagazine features Founders/CEOs of non-profit organisations who have come a long way and whose ideas have bloomed. This issue on Leadership features Shaheen Mistri. 

"To me a great leader is someone who has the ability to fulfill their vision by inspiring and empowering others. It was a privilege and pleasure to work under Shaheen and I think I couldn't have had a better mentor in my first job and introduction to the social sector. Presenting the best teacher and leader I had"...By: Meher Gandevia-Billimoria

 I founded Akanksha & Teach for India (TFI) because... I truly believe that every child deserves an excellent education - an education focused on academic achievement, right values and enough exposure and access to the world.

My one learning with both organisations has been… as Mother Teresa so beautifully says, that we can do no great things - only small things with great love. Every person has a role to play in this larger fight- it only takes one little step forward. Throughout it all, my kids are what kept me going. I couldn't let them down - and that's what kept me on the path. 

Challenges along the way... maintaining a balance between scaling the movement quickly and continuing to ensure the highest levels of quality and impact.

Our work has come a long way because… the people I work with have had immense belief and faith, and are passionate about what we do. Our students are always pushing us to become better and reach our vision.

Funding for any organisation… has been challenging but feeling grateful for the tremendous support that we have had from various organizations and people.

Social Impact according to me is… a movement of people doing small things, that will end up really shaking the world. 

My thoughts on scaling up… as Teach For India expands to more cities and recruits a large number of Fellows, funding becomes a challenge. While Teach For America corps members receive their compensation directly from the schools they are placed in, Teach For India Fellows are paid by Teach For India itself. The funding required for Teach For India to place 1000 Fellows in schools across India is over Rs. 50 crores a year.

If I could change one thing about the social sector, it would be... shifting mindsets on the teaching profession. We need the brightest leaders to teach and to really understand the education system. Without this, we cannot change the system.

Leadership in any organisation... is critical to the success of any organization. The leadership team needs to have a strong vision and purpose, and live values every day. 

The one person who has inspired me... Mahatma Gandhi. His words, principles & ideals have shaped the way I look at my work.

In my free time I... love to spend time with animals.


  1. It would be great if you can arrange a training session with such a leader.