Riya: Democratizing access to buisness education
Young people today are proactively challenging social inequalities for the good of all. A social entrepreneur on the rise, Riya's story illustrates how Gen Z changemakers are breaking down these barriers by democratizing access to knowledge, resources, and social networks.
Throughout high school, Riya was fortunate to attend a school that offered numerous student enrichment opportunities, like science fairs, policy debates, and model UN. Sophomore year, Riya attended a school science fair. She was amazed by her peer’s novel solutions, like a breathalyzer to address drunk driving. However, when she asked her friend what happens next, he said he didn’t have the guidance or knowledge about how to patent his design or take it to the next level. Riya realized that his idea would “die at a high school science fair.”
Looking around, Riya saw many ides that were going unseen, unheard, and undervalued. She determined that they needed a platform to realize their ideas fully, and be offered attention, encouragement, and support to actualize their projects. Upon further reflection, Riya thought about students from low-income schools that may lack the opportunities and resources to even have a science fair or policy debate to incubate changemaking ideas.
Riya shared her entrepreneurial idea with her parents, who encouraged her to see it through. After talking to her teachers, people who run startups, and Ashoka, Riya aspired to create a virtual platform to connect teens with social entrepreneurs to participate in changemaking.
Wavve started as a means to democratic access to buisness education for teens across the socioeconomic spectrum. Today, Wavve is an incubator and accelerator. As an online platform, Wavve provides mentorship, startup resources, and a network to bolster youth-driven businesses and help spread business education to lower income schools. The venture also partners with youth organizations and mentors to build a community of support around Wavve.
Riya’s team, which consists of eight other young changemakers across the US, help make Wavve a reality. “I would be lying if I said that it hasn't been hard or I haven't thought about quitting at times,” Riya candidly says, “I think what really keeps me going is, again, having a team. I don't think I would have stayed in it if it weren't for my team, because you need to have someone to be accountable to. And I think having that support…really helps you get through it.” Rooting each other around their shared goal, the team’s persistence enables them to stay innovative and relentless.
Within a couple of years, Riya and her peers have created a vibrant platform for social innovation. “It's okay to start small because there's no single path,” Riya advises. “There are many different ways you can incorporate change making into your everyday life.” Riya encourages everyone to hold onto what sparks their motivation to create change - at any scale - and pursue it with full force.
Read more about Riya's venture in this feature in her local newspaper.