Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Aahana: Drexel incubator accepts its first social good company

Drexel University sophomore Rina Patel decided to create Aahana, a non-profit organization to help underprivileged women and children in rural India, after a trip to her parents’ villages in Ahmadabad, India.

The creative agency only moved about five blocks, but the change represents significant growth.

The move from 233 N. King St. to 600 N. King St. is fewer than five blocks away, but for digital agency The Archer Group, it's huge.
Once a scrappy boutique, the transfer to the larger office is a very tangible result of its evolution into a highly regarded creative agency. "The move is a reflection of the level of work we're doing," said Mike Derins, Archer's CEO. If you think you're not familiar with Archer's work, you're probably wrong. Anytime you go to a Wawa and order a hoagie on the touchscreen or visit the Wawa website, that's the work of Archer. If you've tried on a pair of glasses virtually on the JCPenney Optical website, that's Archer. Have you noticed how dynamic the Delaware YMCA website is these days? Again, Archer. "We're a seriously independent 'customer experience' agency, with no outside investors and no work done by third parties," Derins said. "This space allows us to give our customers the experience we want for them." At 27,000 square feet, it's nearly twice the size of the 233 King location Archer called home for 10 years, with 11 conference rooms and a new, state of the art lab. Black-and-white and natural hues are accented with a sunny orange and a slate blue, and there's plenty of natural light. To take a peek inside the new space, keep scrolling. [caption id="attachment_32311" align="aligncenter" width="1024"](Courtesy photo) (Courtesy photo)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_32309" align="aligncenter" width="1024"](Courtesy photo) (Courtesy photo)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_32308" align="aligncenter" width="1024"](Courtesy photo) (Courtesy photo)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_32315" align="aligncenter" width="1024"](Courtesy photo) (Courtesy photo)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_32312" align="aligncenter" width="1024"](Courtesy photo) (Courtesy photo)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_32314" align="aligncenter" width="1024"](Courtesy photo) (Courtesy photo)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_32307" align="aligncenter" width="1024"](Courtesy photo) (Courtesy photo)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_32310" align="aligncenter" width="1024"](Courtesy photo) (Courtesy photo)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_32306" align="aligncenter" width="1024"](Courtesy photo) (Courtesy photo)[/caption]

Student entrepreneurs can be social entrepreneurs, too.

Drexel University sophomore Rina Patel decided to create Aahana, a nonprofit organization to help underprivileged women and children in rural India, after a trip to her parents’ villages in Ahmadabad, India.

Aahana, which means “first rays of sun,” is not a class project. It’s Rina’s personal philanthropic endeavor — and it’s the first organization of its kind to receive space in Drexel’s business incubator for students, the Baiada Institute.

Patel has a history with fundraising and humanitarian work: “While I was in high school, I did a lot of fundraising on my own to raise money for countries like Haiti and Japan,” said Patel in an email.

But now, in college, Patel wants to pursue causes that are closer to her heart.

“I wanted to start my own organization that would target […] the location that I was most passionate about: the villages and town around where my parents were born and raised.”

Patel has partnered with Human Resource Foundation, a local organization in India, to work with the Mamta School of Disabled Children in Gujurat, India (near her parents’ villages). She’s already raised $20,000 for food, clothing and bedding.

Next, her goal is to help build a new school for young deaf and disabled children, and she plans to raise $100,00 more to fund it. Patel also helped to launch a 90-day training program to help women from rural villages learn beauty trade skills (like henna and embroidery) and start their own small businesses.

Patel also opened Aahana chapters at the University of South Florida, Purdue University and Virginia Commonwealth University, to work with students across the country to educate others. She wants to challenge common perceptions of India among her peers in the US.

Now, Patel partners with other Drexel student and local Indian-American organizations to provide more support to Gujarat. Her goal is to “make it more sustainable … to provide aid and educational programs to more schools in India,” according to a press release.

Companies: Drexel University
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