Student-founded Dexterity Global achieves international recognition
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 02:09
Hodgdon Hall is listed as the global headquarters of one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Most Innovative Social Enterprises for the Next Century. Sophomore Sharad Vivek Sagar came to Tufts last year to study international relations and economics, with the added intention of expanding his company, Dexterity Global, Inc., as a Boston corporation.
The company was incorporated in Massachusetts this March, according to its Facebook page, which boasts over 17,000 “Likes.” Dexterity Global is a corporation that uses platforms on- and offline to educate and empower the next generation of innovators and leaders.
Dexterity Global’s Vice President of Communications Benjamin Hosking explained what the mission statement means.
“Dexterity Global is about education, empowerment and entrepreneurship, particularly in the developing world, but also in the developed world. It’s not really about targeting any specific subset of youth; it’s about every youth in the world, particularly in secondary schools but also in college as well,” Hosking, a sophomore, said. “The concept is to provide platforms in which anybody can succeed and achieve opportunities.”
The numbers alone are impressive; in the past five years, the company reports that it has reached out to over 100,000 young people and helped them grow as active citizens, entrepreneurs and leaders.
More recently, Sagar was invited by the Nobel family to attend Nobel Prize Week, and Dexterity Global will also showcase the company and its mission while attending the National Conference on Social Entrepreneurship 2013, the Intersection at Googleplex 2013 and the New York Global Young Leaders Summit 2013. The company is listed as a TED Million Dollar award winning concept.
The Tufts community is no stranger to entrepreneurial leadership. Many students and alumni have been involved in the creation of start-ups, projects and corporations that have expanded both nationally and globally, including eBay, American Apparel and Victoria’s Secret. Many of the university’s entrepreneurial students participate in a start-up project during their time here.
Sagar said that he initially created Dexterity Global in response to flaws in the Indian educational system, including badly integrated information technologies. He said that most of the administrators and policy makers in charge of the public educational system did not even send their own children to public schools.
“They didn’t have faith in the very system they created,” Sagar said.
Rigorous survey research and publicity that involved interactions with the press in India enabled Dexterity Global to begin a major child rights project, fueled by the interest of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), according to Sagar. These actions prompted the United Nations branch to invite Sagar and other members of Dexterity Global to draft an action plan regarding schooling in Bihar, an east Indian state and original home to the company.
After this accomplishment, Sagar was particularly interested in addressing issues of child labor rights as well. Dexterity Global’s first project, called the Happy Meal Program, focused on aiding underprivileged child workers, according to Sagar. Although the government had passed several reforms related to human rights, such as The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009, children were still working as laborers, even within their own homes, he said.
“We started working with slum kids, the ones who had no rights at all, in fact. They were working as vendors and whatnot,” Sagar said. “We started teaming up with restaurants and confectionery makers in the city and we were able to get meals sponsored for them.”
Success of their first project sparked several other three-month long projects. One of these projects was a campaign for climate change mitigation. Dexterity Global encouraged students to set reasonable goals to reduce their carbon footprints, advocating for measures such as planting trees.
Sagar said that he then began to seriously consider upscaling the company’s operations. At the time, 12 to 13 students — all under the age of 15 — made up the business, but expansion called for a larger staff.
“We could not have gone out and planted a million trees. We could not have ensured that every single kid is in school all by ourselves,” Sagar said. “I personally feel that I could not go out and plant the million trees, but I could go out and tell people to tell 10 people each, ‘Okay, all of us are going to go out and plant 10 trees,’ and you, eventually, plant a million trees.”
As a result, Sagar said that he has most recently been working with a network of close to 177 people, seven of whom are on the board of advisors and 150 of whom are volunteers and coordinators. Since expanding, Dexterity Global began to specialize its operations involving a division of online and offline features.
Its programs are currently divided into three branches: DexChallenge, DexGlobe and DexSchool. All three highlight the importance of working relationships between peers in pursuing academic success.