About Ketan Deshpande

About Ketan

Ketan The Person

Ketan was raised by his mother, a judge. As they moved cities every three years, Ketan grew up learning to adapt well to new friends, schools and neighborhoods.

Ketan always enjoyed bringing people together. He started the practice of communal celebration of festivals amongst the communities of judges he lived in by collecting donations from every family in the community. When some judges refused to pay, Ketan showed creativity by announcing the names of these judges at the celebrations and saying that they would be paying on the auspicious occasion of the festival itself! Ketan was also appointed a prefect at school because of the leadership skills he demonstrated in managing class discipline while maintaining a friendly rapport with all of the other students and school management.

Moving every three years meant searching for schools and deciding which classes to take, and that was a continuous challenge because of the lack of information about the education system in the small, rural towns his mother was posted to. This problem was exacerbated when he finished high school, moved to Pune, and had to decide what to study in college and where. Since Pune is a well-developed and designed city, Ketan expected to easily learn about different educational institutions and the courses they offered. However, he soon realized that the problem of lack of information and access to higher education was not limited to rural or small town India, but was an issue in major cities as well.

Ketan ended up graduating with a degree in Sociology from a college in Pune. During his studies he realized that he wanted to be an entrepreneur, but had not studied the appropriate subjects to position him to do so. Frustrated with his personal experience, Ketan realized that every student in India suffered from similar problems, and so started FUEL. He mobilized other students from his class, using their collective experiences to compile information, first about colleges and popular courses in Pune, then expanding to other cities in the state. Although Ketan managed to successfully graduate as a student, he hardly remembers attending classes, and says his real education happened while working to establish FUEL. In doing so he learned to fundraise, mobilize and lead team members, market his organization, and reach more students. This experienced also gave him a place in reputed college of Symbiosis International University Pune to complete his MBA.

Ketan shares that his granduncle, an ophthalmologist who carried out over 100,000 eye surgeries, has inspired him since childhood through his grandfather who was advocate and freedom fighter socialist.

Ketan’s dream was always to change the lives of ten times that many, or a million, people. Even at his young age, he’s already half-way to that goal.

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