Pooja Ravindra: A Social Impact Maker Empowering Women and Little Scholars


There remains darkness by default if a starlet is not born to break the vast confines of an everlasting night. It is believed that when the compressed darkness at the centre of a dead star could not take it anymore, it burst out into a quasar that reaches even the distant most boundaries of the universe. Hope is such a quasar of a long-suppressed, crunched past coming out of the aching hearts of the oppressed, voicing the unvoiced souls now long gone.

That quasar comes to enlighten the night and turn it into the brightest day possible. Igniting the flame of equality in a society whose very foundations are deeply drenched in inequality, Pooja Ravindra’s simple yet profoundest message comes…

Straight from Her Heart:

We exist in a hierarchy that touts independence and individuality but conditions us to be silent, small, and satisfied with what we have – primarily when that is defined by what we have not. At every turn, we bear the realities of patriarchy, prejudice, and poverty of political, social, economic, and educational systems are structured to oppress, disenfranchise, and disempower us – and disproportionately.”

One thing I have always believed is that not everyone’s childhood or past can be easy, especially for ‘women.’ There are cultural and societal barriers that slow us down and quit our voices at various stages. Still, if we realize and believe that there are many things that we can do as parents, teachers, friends, sisters, or just as young women in society – we can drive change and liberate.”

If someone were to ask me what I could do for society? My answer would be to shine a light on the young and underprivileged.”

If you take a heedful look around, you can see so much hope that is unblemished. Hope from young children with dreams as big as their imagination. Hope that drives even the physically challenged to earn a simple meal. Hope which should never go in vain! Anyone with even the slightest privilege and regard can be the torch of light that can show underprivileged the way and guide them through the path.

A Multitalented Leader

Born and raised in Mysore, Pooja is a mother, homemaker, planter, Hotelier, Entrepreneur, and Empowerment Advocate. She is known for her exceptional time management ability and spirited and ardent desire to solve social problems and help others. A multitalented persona, Pooja wears many hats; from being a telefilm actor to a state-level dancer, she is accomplished, zestful, and ever-energetic and believes in an active and virtuous lifestyle.

Pooja has always believed in self–sufficiency and has embraced a simple and mindful lifestyle; from growing her organic fruits and vegetables to adopting eco-friendly energy sources, she has been a true believer in the thought of planet over perfection.

As a dynamic leader in the industry, taking us back to the beginning of her journey, where she found the things that motivated her to step into the vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, Pooja says, “I started my professional career working for various Fortune 500 companies, managing their HR line of business, but deep down I always gravitated towards being an entrepreneur and a social impact maker.”

That led her to take over their coffee plantations and start Golden Rocks, a construction material company in Coorg, Karnataka. Her keen interest in the hospitality industry and the zeal to provide top-of-the-line stays in the neighbourhood of Coorg made her start Golden Beans Homestays.

Going further, Pooja has Co-founded an NGO, through which she has been actively creating a difference and driving change in society for the past five years. “I have seen up close and personal women and children being abused physically and mentally and their rights being taken away. I wanted to help them in some way. That made me start our NGO 1 Empowering Women with a group of like-minded partners with the primary aim to empower women and children and stand and fight for their rights. We have helped numerous victims and have relocated them to safer havens to ensure their safety and protection.”

Pooja has always believed that comprehensive and quality education is the foundation for a better future, “Our children must have access to the best of facilities, technologically driven curriculum and role model teachers to forge great citizens for our great nation.” This was the foundation of establishing Little Scholars Academy.

A Transformationally Guiding Viewpoint 

All of her enterprises have emerged as India’s leading transformational companies in their niche. Sharing the guiding philosophy that has propelled her organizations’ success, Pooja says, “I never just dreamt; I decided to strive; I decided to be the change that I would dream about.”

The guiding philosophy is simple – Be the hardest and smartest working professional and be the best in what you do. “It applies to all my lines of business. My parents instilled it in me at an early age. I have instilled it in all my colleagues and subordinates.”

When you focus more on quality than quantity, your work output is exceptional. It could be the production of construction materials or providing education. Quality is critical.

The industrial landscape is continually evolving. Briefing about her firms’ USPs and how they are currently positioned as the best in their sectors, Pooja says their USP is multifaceted. With the various lines of businesses she’s responsible for, having one USP is difficult.

Golden Rocks has earned its reputation as the best construction material supplier south of Coorg to the government and private sectors. “We never had a customer complain about our product quality.”

Golden Beans homestay is rated one of the best homestays in Coorg. “We have consistently featured in the top ten lists of best places to stay in Coorg. Our service offerings include luxurious stays amidst the lap of nature, top-of-the-line amenities, and local cuisine food. Our accommodation, food and staff consistently get a five-star rating for the experience our guests have when they stay at our homestays. Everyone who stayed with us, from corporates to vacationers to national leaders, praised us for our outstanding service quality.”

Educating children is the noblest of things. Her team of teachers and administrators at Little Scholars Academy are committed to providing the best possible coaching not only in academics but also in extra-curriculars’ leading to the overall development of their pupils. “This has been possible with my team’s utmost commitment and dedication.”

Leading by Example

Pooja’s dynamic leadership style is often recognized as a driving force behind her many business achievements. Shedding light on her approach to leadership and team building within the organization, Pooja says she believes in leading by example. If something needs to be done, she gets involved in it and is on the ground to get things done. She usually does a task herself to show how it can be done effectively and promptly. Pooja also believes in collaboration. “I have experienced that when business owner collaborates with their teams, it paves the way to innovation and efficiency.” She sometimes micro-manages things critical to business, but most of the time, her team has complete freedom to make decisions. Pooja strongly believes in honest feedback, “I appreciate in public and criticize in private.”

Her teams, be it in Golden Rocks, Golden Beans or at LSA, have a great sense of unity because Pooja ensures they are all aware of what they are doing and their collective aim. ‘If your employees don’t know what the end goal is, they won’t be able to perform to their potential.’

So, as business owners, we must ensure they align with your company goals by keeping them in the loop.”

According to Pooja, the essence of future revolution lies in innovation, disruptions, and enhancing the end-user experience. Hence, all her companies balance operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. In construction, material supply is physically labour-intensive due to the nature of business. “I acquired advanced machinery that combines physical labour with mechanical automations.” Bought in industry experts to provide and set up efficient processes right from stone excavation to end product delivery. It not only brought down the overall turnaround time but also helped her immensely to keep up with the promised timelines to their vendors and customers.

Each business poses a separate challenge. “We ensure that our supply chain management is not disrupted as much as possible, concurrently having backup plans to mitigate any unforeseen circumstances.”

Digitalization and technological advancements are crucial aspects of the modern industrial ecosystem. Pooja ensures her companies integrate these principles into their core functioning and contribute to a technovative future.

Little Scholars Academy is a technology-driven school. Pooja and her team have implemented state-of-the-art smart classrooms with industry-leading digital content that can help children grasp concepts easily. They are breaking the traditional way of teaching and going a step ahead by combining teacher’s knowledge and experience and technology-driven content. “I am proud to say that our students have won awards and accolades in all areas of academics in town and taluk levels, which validates our methods’ effectiveness.”

They have started introducing computer proficiency and coding know-how through their computer lab. Their ‘Think Lab promotes innovation, creative thinking, introduction to robotics and science experiments with practical equipment.

Fostering a Team of Leaders

Pooja also believes that the workforce is the cornerstone of any successful organisation. Culture is what creates the day-to-day experience at any workplace. “Our organisation has a good company culture.”

Employees are engaged, committed and excited to come to work, stretching from brand new employees to the heads. That’s because she makes sure there are clear expectations. Expectations around how work gets done, why it is important and how they are expected to treat each other.

Pooja claims, “I strongly believe that how we–the Management Heads–treat our team members plays a huge role in any organisation.” For example, an organisation that recognizes and sympathises with employees will have a different culture than an organisation where the managers or heads take all the credit for employees’ work. Also, she believes empowering employees means allowing them to make decisions and take ownership of their work. But it also means being able to offer support and development opportunities.

Defeating the Challenges

Pooja has likely faced her share of challenges as a leader in India’s industrial sector. Sharing the same, she says that every business faces many common challenges. Whether they are large or small, hiring the right candidate, building a brand, developing a customer’s trust and so on and so forth. However, some will be strictly small business problems, which most large companies grew out of long ago. “I strongly believe we can transform our challenges into opportunities for growth by allowing the struggles to unfold by moving through the obstacles instead of hiding from them.”

One such instance for people in her region (Kodagu) is floods! ‘For people here, August could be the cruellest month of the year.’ In the last consecutive years’ incessant rains in Aug-Sep have pounded their small hilly district. “Flood and fury is something we live in fear every year.”

It causes significant losses, including vehicles, fixtures, fitting, and machinery beyond repair. If not replaced immediately, it will suffer major financial loss. Heavy rains mean the business will have to close its doors for weeks or months until it’s clean and safe for guests to check in. This, of course, can be devastating and deplete as bills still need to be paid. ‘Most of the businesses here will have to shut their doors during the aftermath of a flood.’ This can cause several days or weeks of lost revenue until the company can reopen. Add to this the recovery from lost inventory, and you have a financial situation that may take months or even years to recover from.

Then, there was the COVID-19 Pandemic that has reshaped industries globally. Pooja informs, “According to a report, more than 82% of small businesses in India have been affected negatively due to COVID-19, with those in the manufacturing sector experiencing more troubles.”

Schools were strictly made to operate through online classes. Hospitality was brought to a standstill. Guests couldn’t travel to different places. “As small businesses like us operate on thin profit margins. While the government of India has come up with relief measures for small and medium enterprises suffering the brunt of the pandemic, there’s still a long way to go to normalize.

By an Exceptional Winning Strategy

“Some of the lessons I’ve learnt from this pandemic are

*Don’t Put Your Eggs in One Basket– Relying on a single revenue stream can leave your business vulnerable to market changes.

*Make The Most of Your Resources– Anticipate the worst when resource planning. Assume that the worst-case scenario will last longer and be costlier than expected.

*Stay Informed– Staying updated on news and developments will allow you to minimize your blind spots and put what’s happening in your organisation into greater context.

For ex. What are guests/customers struggling with or worrying about? What are their relevant preferences or habits? What solutions are they looking for? And how can you help?

*Support Your Team– During uncertain times, checking on your team is more important than ever. Touch base with them frequently to see how they are coping and what they need to feel supported. “Especially an organisation like mine, that works in remotest areas must ensure that its employees have ample opportunities to connect as a team while they were apart.”

The Success Mantra

In her advice to other budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into startup space. Pooja says,

‘~Do What You Love– There’s little point in going into business simply to go into business. You must have a passion for your business or service and know it inside out.

~Know What You Want– Going into business for yourself isn’t for everyone. The big question is, what are you prepared to sacrifice to make it a success? Entrepreneurs should be notoriously focused and single-minded. “You have to be prepared to accept defeat, enjoy wins, and move on undaunted.”

~Manage Your Time-Time management is essential when starting a business. “What helped me was maintaining a diary to ensure that all my work is scheduled on time because planning and preparation are vital.”

~Be Good to Yourself– You may be full of energy and plans now, but the truth is that all entrepreneurs (despite their age or gender) running a business and all other aspects of life can get exhausted. “I make sure that I allow downtime for myself so that I return recharged; self-love is important.”

Decide to Realize Your Dream Now

Finally sharing her future vision, Pooja says they at Little Scholars Academy believe that a happy child is a successful one. “We are committed to providing a positive, safe and stimulating environment for children to learn where all are valued. We intend all children to enjoy learning, achieve their potential and become independent lifelong learners.”

At Golden Beans– “The mission of our hospitality firm is to put hospitality services on the highest level to satisfy the demands and expectations of our guests. We aim to make Golden Beans a place for encounters, business success, pleasant meetings and gala ceremonies.”

At 1 Empowering Women NGO- “We understand the importance of child care and education emergency. Our aim will remain strong on transforming lives and making children self-reliant and contributing society members. We also understand the importance of preventing child abandonment, which is why we want to continue empowering vulnerable families in communities to become financially independent, enabling them to create safe and nurturing spaces for children under their care.”

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