Reading To Lead
For Kavish Sarawgi, who leads a financial services firm, success lies beyond monetary gains and gratification of personal or material interests. Fusing his childhood passion for reading with his innate entrepreneurial ingenuity, he launched Stones2Milestones Education Services in 2008, a non-profit organisation that seeks to enhance the learning process in government and low-income private schools through its unique reading programmes.
An early start
Having grown up in Siliguri, West Bengal, Sarawgi was 10 years old when he moved to Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, in 1992 to live on his maternal grandparents’ six-acre farm. Under his grandparents’ guidance, he learnt about the importance of respecting others, giving and caring for resources—values he has held close to his heart ever since. As a young boy, his love for sports was only rivalled by his love for reading, both of which were well suited to life on a farm.
An alumnus of IIM Lucknow, Sarawgi went to an English-medium school in a town called Bagar, 15 kms away from Jhunjhunu. While in the seventh grade, his grandparents introduced him to the Hindu epic, Bhagavad Gita—an extensive read comprising 700 verses in 18 chapters—which enriched his understanding of core human values and morality and led to a transformation so deep, it continues to define who he is today. In fact, Sarawgi attributes all of his academic success to his love for reading: “I was a small-town boy, not too exposed to the world. If I was not an avid reader, I would have felt lost. Reading helped me keep my head high.”
Sarawgi went on to pursue his BBA in Finance at the Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, Indore, where he received the prestigious Chairman’s Gold Medal for topping the university examinations. While there, he started a stock trading business, a commodities trading business and an import/export venture—no easy feat for a college student. That’s when he discovered his passion and predilection for business. “I just love connecting the dots, getting people closer to one another and making deals. It excites me immensely,” he says.
Professional success notwithstanding, Sarawgi’s years at IIM Lucknow also greatly impacted the way he perceived the world and its problems. Living and interacting with people from all walks of life, he realised that what makes people richer or poorer is not a difference in wealth, but a difference in their access to opportunities. This created in him a deep-seated desire to serve, foster equality and create opportunity, which ultimately resulted in the creation of Stones2Milestones Education Services, through which he launched two literacy programmes—Wings of Words (WoW) and ASPIRE—for students from lower kindergarten to class three.
Stones2Milestones advocates that the skill of reading in English, a second language for most Indians, has to be taught systematically in schools to create passionate, avid and skilled readers. The WoW and ASPIRE programmes cover five important components of literacy—phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension and phonological awareness. The programmes use effective methodologies such as reading aloud, group work, discussions, reflections and application of understanding through worksheets. Apart from helping children cultivate reading and writing expertise, the programmes also include intensive training for teachers to transform them into emotionally intelligent educators, who can help create a positive and productive learning environment for students. domain backlinks . ve domain . Additionally, child-and-tutor-friendly session plans, workbooks and teaching aids are provided to every school that adopts these programmes, along with a Stones2Milestones mentor, who is available for aid and assistance all year round. An assessment process also takes place in the school every three months to track a child’s transition and marked skill improvement as a result of the programmes. “The focus, at the end of the day, is on creating a reading culture which addresses fluency and vocabulary-building, making written text more meaningful and eventually enabling a child to make larger connections,” says Sarawgi.
A balancing act
Sarawgi is one of the youngest directors and investors of Resurgent India Ltd, a one-stop destination for debt, equity and transaction advisory needs that caters to large private and government clients. When Sarawgi joined the firm in 2008, the company had a team of six people in a small office in Gurgaon, with a turnover of 25 lakhs. Today, Resurgent India’s turnover has doubled, with its fundraising transactions rising to more than `5,000 crore annually. Sarawgi hopes to grow the company to a size of `400 crore in the next four years.