Sharad Tandale, who comes from the Vanjari, an economically marginalised community of farmers in India, has been named Entrepreneur of the Year by Youth Business International (YBI) at the global 2013 Young Entrepreneur Awards ceremony in London.
Sharad, 32, was forced to break down barriers in his tribal community and overcome his family’s opposition to his entrepreneurial ideas when he founded his engineering start-up, Innovation Engineers & Contractors. He was selected as the overall winner from a tough field of over 80 entrants from countries around the world. The judging panel who selected the winner – following a rigorous interview process and review of comprehensive evidence – included Karen Lynch, CEO of Belu Water, and Justin Shinebourne from Awards supporter, Barclays.
Of the Vanjari community, less than 1% of people start up a business. Sharad broke rank, getting a government scholarship so he could obtain an Engineering degree before setting about pursuing his dream of running his own firm.
At first, no bank was willing to finance him. However, in 2010 YBI’s Indian member, Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust, were impressed enough with his dedication and determination to award him a loan of $20,000 for materials and equipment. In just three years Sharad has built a successful company – growing it by 2,500% so that it now employs 175 people and provides a range of services not normally offered by small businesses to meet the needs of under-served small towns and rural areas in India.
Newly-crowned YBI Entrepreneur of the Year, Sharad, said: "I want to boost the spirit and the belief of the local community that nothing is impossible in the world if you try hard. Life is tough for everyone where we live. My employees have helped me reach and touch success not just for me but for everyone! Thank you to everyone who has supported me, including YBI and Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust."
The YBI Young Entrepreneur Awards, supported by Barclays, aim to promote youth entrepreneurship, celebrate the achievements of young entrepreneurs around the world, and show how they can contribute to local communities. Sharad and the winners of the other Awards categories met His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, who is President of YBI, this week as part of the YBI Global Youth Entrepreneurship Summit, which culminated in last night’s Awards. YBI is one of the Prince’s Charities, which have helped create more than 125,000 entrepreneurs in the UK and overseas and given business support to 395,000 people.
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales said: “I have long been inspired by the winners of the Young Entrepreneur Awards, held by my Youth Business International. From China to Sri Lanka, these talented entrepreneurs show us what can be done with a small amount of money and the right kind of support. As it becomes ever more difficult for young people around the world to find meaningful employment, the winners of the Young Entrepreneur Awards act as powerful role models for other young people who might not otherwise have considered setting up their own business.”
Andrew Devenport, Youth Business International Chief Executive, said: “The calibre of all the finalists was superb but Sharad had the edge across the board, particularly due to the employment opportunities he has created. Laying the foundations of his business with integrity and ensuring his workforce is happy are central to his success going forward. He is exactly the kind of role model other young people in India, and indeed around the world, need to see recognised.”
Sharad trumped Prinson Thuraiaiya from Sri Lanka and Huaping Yang of China to the overall Award. The category winners, who also attended the event, were:
• Woman Entrepreneur of the Year: Godavari Satpute, India
• Start-up Entrepreneur of the Year: Nimali Gunawardana, Sri Lanka
• Environmental Entrepreneur of the Year: Karma Yonten, Bhutan
• Mentor of the Year: Mohan Singh, India
Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Retail and Business Banking at Barclays, said: “We are more and more impressed each year by the young people who compete in the Awards. It’s a privilege to hear their exceptional stories. At Barclays, we, like YBI, believe a three-tiered support package of mentoring, access to finance and business training is the key when building high-growth-potential businesses that make significant contributions to local economies and communities.”