-Dilip Thakore (Bengaluru)
Ravi Sonnad is a highly qualified social entrepreneur with over three decades of transnational business experience and currently founder-director of the Singapore-based Enabling Leadership Foundation (ELF). The objective of ELF, which has a headcount of 80 full-time employees and 200 part-time faculty, is to develop leadership skills that Sonnad and the foundation believe are latent in every child, especially girl children.
Newspeg. In end September, Sonnad visited the foundation’s facilities in Delhi, Bangalore and Dharwad (Karnataka) to take stock of their progress. Currently, ELF is developing the leadership skills of 10,000 children in government schools in India, Cambodia and Singapore.
History. An engineering and business management graduate of IIT-Madras and Tulane University, New Orleans (USA), Sonnad began his professional career with the Amsterdam-based Intralox Llc, a transnational plastic conveyor belts manufacturing company. After a successful career with Intralox in Amsterdam (1992-2017) and Shanghai where he established the company’s Shanghai and India (Bangalore) manufacturing and marketing operations, in 2013 Sonnad quit corporate life and set up ELF as a not-for-profit foundation to develop a future generation of leaders equipped to provide employment and direction to children in Asia, especially in India.
Currently ELF teachers are deployed in government schools in India, Cambodia and Singapore to teach “transferable skills” to students. These skills are taught twice a week by ELF teachers using components of the popular game Lego, playing football and learning music.
Direct talk. “By using Lego building blocks, children learn to develop imagination and life skills of teamwork and co-operation while improving hand-eye coordination. By playing the popular and affordable game of mixed gender football under supervision, they learn the importance of physical fitness, teamwork, and unity. And by learning music, they develop a sense of aesthetics and appreciation of the arts. In ELF, we believe that every child can become a leader if she develops these competencies over a sustained period of time. Developing the latent leadership skills of children is a gap in most education systems, and ELF is here to nurture teachers who will teach other teachers to motivate their students to grow into trustworthy leaders with strength of character and sense of community,” says Sonnad.
Future plans. Ten years on after ELF was registered, Sonnad believes the not-for-profit foundation has developed the science of teaching leadership skills through experiential and enjoyable pedagogies. “We also intend to market our build, play and music leadership programme to private schools on a payment basis. This will enable us to raise resources to develop and nurture the large number of leaders that India and countries in Asia and Africa need to eliminate poverty and take the high road to national prosperity,” says Sonnad.
The force be with you!