About the Whatever It Takes Program:
Meet Anika from San Diego, Ether from St. Louis, Winter Green from NYC, and Avni from Austin - four young women with unique backgrounds and entrepreneurial ideas with one thing in common: they are members of the incredible Whatever It Takes program. Founded by Sarah Hernholm, the program hinges on the belief that young people can do more and have a greater sense of self-efficacy if they learn how to be social entrepreneurs. WIT, the only 6 unit college credit social entrepreneur and leadership program for high school teens in the country, helps teens design and launch, manage and measure, a social enterprise. Based in San Diego, California, with locations in New York City, Austin, and St. Louis, WIT also hosts teen only hackathons (Smart City Saturday) and puts the power into the teens’ hands with the 2018 launch of WIT Crew - a teen led “club” providing teens the platform and tools to make a social impact in their community, while being connected to the resources and mentorship of the WIT network.
Meet Ether Dharmesh - inspired by her own experience in learning English in moving to America from India, she created LingAlly, which ensures foreign language speakers who come to the United States can integrate and feel welcome while learning English in the States.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a high school sophomore who aspires to be an entrepreneur. I moved to the United States almost two years ago from India. I love learning and creating new things. I have always been inspired and fascinated by the creation of businesses that play a role in improving the community and helping other people. One of the things that is very important to me is to spread education and literacy to those who want it. When I moved here from India, I was extremely thankful for my knowledge of the English language, which helped me understand and communicate with other people in American society. I wanted to help other foreign speakers learn the English language so that they too can be comfortable and enjoy the colorful aspects of American society, and give back to their communities. It is for this reason that I aim to spread education and knowledge in the world.
Who or what inspired your interest in entrepreneurship?
My interest in entrepreneurship stemmed from my love for leadership and creativity. Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved coming up with new ideas. Whether it be for helping other people or making daily life easier, or even just an idea for a school project, my ideas always excited me and I always did my best to implement them. My excitement for new ideas was always accompanied by a love for leadership. The idea of guiding and working with others towards a common goal is extremely appealing to me. I am very interested in entrepreneurship because it helps combine two of favorite things - coming up with new and innovative ideas, while leading and working with other people to implement them.
Tell us about your business.
My business is called LingAlly. My goal with LingAlly is to help people who are primarily foreign language speakers to feel included and comfortable in American society by giving them the opportunity to learn the English language from other people in society. Our aim at LingAlly is to help these foreign language speakers learn the English language so that they can communicate with other people and understand important things in society such as their rights, duties, privileges as well as social culture. We aim to do this by helping them interact with people just like them who can teach them the English language while making them feel part of the community.
What problem does your business solve?
My business solves the problem of foreign speakers feeling alienated in American society due to an inability to understand their societies. By helping foreign speakers learn the English language from their peers in society, my business aims to aid them in the process of understanding the beauty of American culture. My business will help foreign speakers create new relationships around them by helping them with communicating with other people and will also let them understand the rights, duties, privileges, and importance they hold in their own communities.
How do you see the long-term impact of your business?
I believe that my business will help improve the lives of many foreign speakers as they will be able to enjoy and assimilate into American society. I believe that this will lead to communities becoming more open-minded, as well as more peaceful. Many foreign speakers will be able to lead a happier and comfortable life as will learn about and appreciate their societies from other people who have already understood how to do so.