When Bisman Deu saw the burning of the waste products causing a pollution at her family farm in southern India, the 15 year-old decided to create a sustainable building material to put the biggest waste product to better use. Bisman, is currently a second year undergraduate studying Economics, Politics and International Studies (EPAIS) at the University of Warwick. After winning a Social Innovation Relay among 43000 students, she was featured at a UNICEF report – the State of the World’s Children 2015 and eventually made it to Forbes under 30. Now, Bisman is promoting entrepreneurship among females.
Bisman, please share your innovative idea that made the world go round.
When I was 15, I built an environmentally sustainable building material out of rice waste, which aims to provide affordable housing to the unprivileged. When rice is harvested, it leaves behind husk and straw which the farmers end up burning. The harvesting season is actually the worst since the black smoke causes people to have serious breathing problems and increases air pollution. So I used that waste material to create a new product, called ‘Green Wood’.
‘Forbes under 30’. For the majority, it is just a dream, for you, it is something you achieved at the age of 19! How did you do it?
I think apart from inventing the building material at the age of 15, it also starts from my curiosity because I had the sort of mindset of questioning everything which I think no one really does nowadays. People just take everything for granted. If there is a problem, we just say it is a problem, instead of coming up with a solution for it and in order to solve it I did a lot of research. I entered HP’s 2013 Social Innovation Relay competition and ended up winning it among 43000 students. This competition aims at providing social entrepreneurs who are in high school with a platform to come up with business ideas that are also socially viable and profitable. That’s really where my journey started off, I got a lot of recognition and gradually made it to ‘Forbes under 30’.
What drives you?
Oh, that’s a good question! I think my unquenchable thirst for making a world a better place, even though it sounds very cliché! The world will remember you for having a great input to it- solving a problem which no one else could.
Has there been any point in your life when you felt that you are missing out on life?
Yes, ever since I was 15 and ever since I started this journey, I have missed out on all the teenage things. Do I regret it? – definitely not! At the end of the day, all the experiences have made me who I am today even though I missed out all the partying and outings. I think I’ve made something substantial for myself and I can definitely say that hard work does pay off.
How do you manage your time? Isn’t it hard to balance education/work?
You don’t sleep! (laughs). Jokes aside, I think you really have to prioritize what you want to do in life. I have barely been catching up 4 to 5 hours of sleep but believe or not, you have to work and only work! You are young and you have the capacity to do it, so why not try and push yourself the hardest you can while you have the energy?
Is there any project that you are currently working on?
I’m actually working on a start-up which I will be launching in the next 2 weeks at the university. This virtual platform is going to be only Warwick exclusive with the ideas of extension. I am really looking for people in marketing area to collaborate with, and people who would help me to take this project into a reality.
There are so many people out there who want to do something but can’t because they are lost in the variety of ideas and don’t know from where to start. Being the leading voice of youth, how do you think they can choose the right path?
I think everyone has that phase. Even I did. It is just one point when you say ‘I’m going to do it’. Everyone has so many ideas, they just need to have the courage to believe in their idea which is so important because if you don’t believe in your own idea, no one else will. Back to when I was 15, I told myself: “Ok, I have an idea and I’m going to go for it. If you think it’s stupid, that’s fine, but that’s your opinion, I’m still going to do it”. Never take no for an answer because there is always a possibility.
At Startup Day, you used a sentence “Opportunities do not come to you, you create the opportunities”. How did you create yours?
I think everyone just waits for the opportunity, but they tend to forget that time never stops for anyone, opportunities don’t stop for you, but you have to literally create them. They say ‘if you knock on the door, no one answers, break it down’. I think that is what I believe in. when I attend the conferences, I don’t just go there to sit down or give a speech, I go there to network, and each one of my opportunities come to me through networking with people. I believe in humans, not as connections but resources.
If you had to say one sentence to all the people at your age, what would that be?
That is such a hard one (laughs)! I would say believe in yourself, no matter how common it is, people actually don’t! Also, never ever take no for an answer because you are worth so much more than people tell you.