Shriti Pandey is a Civil Engineer and entrepreneur who is founder of Strawcture Eco, a venture that builds and designs projects that are affordable and sustainable.
She did her Master’s in Construction Management from New York University and also is a SBI Youth for India 2017 Batch fellow. Her startup is currently incubated at IIM Bangalore and Atal Incubation Center, Banasthali Vidyapeeth.
She recently also won UN 22nd Youth Assembly Impact award for her venture and its vision which promotes cirular economy mission.
Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently?
Shriti Pandey is a women born and brought up in a Tier-3 city in Uttar Pradesh called Gorakhpur in a fairly well to do family. While growing up she had more contact with books then humans around her. She loves travelling, believes everything needs to be experienced before one makes an opinion about something and the only habit she has carried on consistently since she was five years old is to read before she goes to bed. What motivates her to wake up every morning, is the belief in the butterfly effect which metaphorically means that small events and actions can have large effects and that we can all actively do our tiny bit in making the world we live in more inclusive, compassionate and empathetic towards each one of us without any discrimination.
I currently run my own for-profit venture called Strawcture Eco whose mission is to make housing more affordable, sustainable and accessible for all.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote?
I have always been passionate about the fact that if we can have the right partnership between modern technology and old ways of farming, a farmer’s life can really change and actually be profitable while pursing farming as a job.
I wish to create/ promote ventures that are making farming more data driven, improving the efficiency of getting produce from farm to our tables and eliminating middle men from the process.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
I don’t think we have really achieved success for it is for our venture. Our goal is to locally manufacture the compressed strawboard panels in India, support farmer’s and reach out to families who don’t have shelter currently.
Yes we have been on that path and so far our biggest challenge in achieving what we are pursuing is to change people’s mindset and behaviours.
We are use to living and building houses a certain way. To suggest something new is hard to be accepted. We are confident as long our projects are customer centric and designed with empathy, we can get there.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
My biggest achievement personally has been to live in a rural tribal village for a year. It has been my most moving, learning experience of life so far. I learnt much more then I could give back to the community. I learnt the real meaning of sustainablilty from tribal communities. It essence lies in consuming less and trying to create more with less then using more resources to make things.
The fellowship changed a lot of my perspectives and gave me a new direction of how I shoud combine goals like sustainability, my passion towards construction. Building things and have some kind of larger social impact .
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t doing what I am doing currnently, I think I would have been a professor/teacher in a college teaching History or Psychology. I loved teaching from a very early age and find a lot of pleasure and satisfaction being around books, reading and sharing knowledge.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration has been Nelson Mandela. I read the book “ Long walk to freedom’ when I was 15 years ago and since then have been using the patience, resilience and humility Nelson Mandela had as a refernce to live my life.
To live in prison for more then a decade for fighting aparthield policy and yet not turn cynical is extraordinary for me as a trait and also a true show of willpower.
What does the future hold for you?
I think the future holds a lot of possibilities for Strawcture Eco and me as a person to grow. I am looking forward to learn from every experience possible , to more resilient with every no that comes our way. The future is for products and companies that don’t just promote inclusivity and sustainability as a CSR goal but actually make it part of their comapny’s core vision and mission to make it part of every process and decision making.