Paul Niel, Hong Kong-based motivational speaker and venture capitalist, continues to help those in need by travelling in a tuk tuk across India in aid of charity “Educate Girls”.
I HAD BEEN CONTEMPLATING exploring India – a country of vast diversity, natural beauty and exotic cultures – for a while, but had needed to find the right team.
Then in Hong Kong, six months ago, the team found itself: Phil, a Swiss media expert at a large bank; Tom, a British-Australian filmmaker and photographer; Clare, a Hong Kong Chinese language teacher; and Sofia, a logistics entrepreneur and journalist from Chile. Five nationalities, each with a different background and language, together we shared a passion for adventure and education.
In 2007, Educate Girls established a local volunteer group, Team Balika, to educate parents and the wider society in rural Rajasthan about why it is important to send girls to school. Many of these families remain very traditional, placing more importance on boys and regarding inequality as simply a way of life.
Meena’s parents had taken her out of school aged 15 to get married. But her husband, a school teacher, had re-enrolled her – she now has a college degree and is a member of the Educate Girls team. She was one of the first volunteers and she manages more than 50 school-engagement projects.
THE FINAL FEW KILOMETRES seem to take forever – boring, straight desert roads, with only the odd wild camel to distract the eye. Then we finally spot Jaisalmer, the “Golden City” close to the border with Pakistan. The town’s fairy tale-like fortress towers over the city on a huge sandstone rock.
As the sun sets over this imposing edifice, its towers shimmering in the fading light, I have time to reflect: it has been an amazing journey.
Our aim has not been to conduct a scientific study but to gain insight into India’s people, culture and education challenges. While we have witnessed much poverty, we have also seen an abundance of hope and opportunity in a motivated and young generation, who want to change, to learn and move forward.
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Paul Niel is a Hong Kong based entrepreneur, future thinker and adventurer. He supports and sponsors enterprises that use exponential technologies to solve grand challenges. He is co-founder of Peared, a lifestyle company for older adults and Luxarity, a Hong Kong based enterprise with a mission to up cycle luxury fashion. He is also an active angel and early stage investor supporting innovative businesses in Europe and Asia and is an expert for the Exponential Organisations Program and an alumni and ambassador of Singularity University.
Paul worked for more than 12 years for JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs and worked in New York, London and Hong Kong. His passion to explore the planet led him into adventures and expeditions around the globe. In 2013 he claimed the top of Mt Everest, successfully completing his quest for the highest mountain on every continent, the seven summits.