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
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
Challenges along the way…
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
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
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.

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