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Yusuf Hakim & Let's Enterprise are launching India's 1st "Working Degree" hoping to be first of many

Updated: May 30, 2023

In a rapidly evolving world, traditional education systems often struggle to keep pace with the dynamic needs of industries and employers. Recognizing this critical gap, Yusuf Hakim and Let's Enterprise have embarked on a mission to redefine higher education in India through their innovative experiential learning programs. By offering a unique blend of practical experiences and reflective learning, Let's Enterprise aims to equip young students with an entrepreneurial mindset towards being work and life ready, to empower them to become changemakers in society.

Yusuf Hakim's personal experiences within the education system inspired him to take charge of his own learning. While pursuing a course in Mechanical Engineering, he actively engaged in practical projects, such as designing and assembling an all-terrain car for BAJA Racing. Through this hands-on experience, Yusuf realized the transformative power of contextualizing classroom knowledge in real-world applications. His subsequent placement at Atlas Copco further solidified his understanding of industry dynamics and sparked an entrepreneurial spirit within him.

Yusuf's entrepreneurial journey continued as he leveraged the learnings from his experiences and the infrastructure and expertise of his family's paint trading business to establish This platform enabled more than 60,000 artists, and shops in Pune to establish an online presence starting in 2015, which created a thriving ecosystem even during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was through these experiences that Yusuf recognized the urgent need to bridge the gap between academic curriculum and industry reality, leading him to co-found Let's Enterprise in 2018 along with Aditya Jhunjhunwala, Palak Krishnamurthy and Nisha Chawla.

There is a significant misalignment between the skills taught in academic institutions and the competencies sought by employers. India's Skills Report 2022 revealed that only 48% of youth were deemed employable, while 75% of industry leaders struggled to find suitable candidates. To understand this better, the Let's Enterprise team conducted extensive research and interviews with entrepreneurs, business leaders, and professionals across various sectors to understand the critical competencies required for success in the current job market, how young people can build these- through experiential learning i.e. learning by doing and reflecting. However, since innovative curricula that facilitate that are rare and slow to spread, the key is to encourage students to be involved with activities beyond academics- co-curriculars, organized sports, volunteering, internships and working.

To prototype experiential learning curricula and processes for addressing the gap between academic curriculum and industry reality, Let's Enterprise launched the Enterprise India Fellowship (EIF) program. This innovative initiative offers an experiential curriculum that enables students to engage with industry leaders under the guidance of mentors. Through a combination of in-house projects, personal endeavors, and strategic consulting engagements with diverse industries, fellows spend over 380 hours gaining practical skills and knowledge.

Over the last 5 years, through the EIF program, Let’s Enterprise has worked with 74 students from 11 cities and 17 different streams and done projects with 30+ clients (across industries- from drone to construction, mental health to manufacturing, social sector to tech). The program's success is evident in the achievements of its alumni, who have developed competencies such as teamwork, clear communication, and self-awareness.

As Let's Enterprise continues to refine its core components and methodologies, it aims to make experiential learning accessible to a larger number of students. Alongside the EIF program, Let's Enterprise is pioneering the UnderGrad Program in Multidisciplinary Entrepreneurial Development (UG-M.E.D.) in collaboration with a university's three-year BBA degree. This "working degree" approach emphasizes project-based learning, with students dedicating 80% of their course time to practical experiences and 20% to academic learning.

Yusuf Hakim and the Let's Enterprise team envision a future where the academic narrative expands beyond mere academic progress. By partnering with employers, educational institutions, NGOs, and government bodies, they aim to advocate for the integration of experiential learning into academic curricula. Additionally, they encourage stakeholders to support students in building a holistic body of work through co-curricular activities, sports, volunteering, and internships.

Under the visionary leadership of Yusuf Hakim and his partners Aditya Jhunjhunwala and Ankita Parashar, Let's Enterprise is pioneering a new era of higher education in India. Through their experiential learning programs, they are equipping young individuals with the skills, mindset, and network needed to thrive in a rapidly changing world. By bridging the gap between academic curriculum and industry reality, Let's Enterprise is empowering a generation of changemakers who will contribute positively to organizations, society, and create purposeful, secure, and abundant livelihoods for themselves and others.

With their innovative approach, Let's Enterprise aims to inspire other institutions to adopt similar "working degree" programs and reshape the future of higher education in India and beyond.

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