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Shaheen Mistri, CEO of Teach For India, Social Entrepreneur, Biography,
Social Entrepreneur

Shaheen Mistri: Empowering Marginalized Children through Teach For India

Shaheen Mistri is a beacon of change in the realm of education, dedicated to reshaping the landscape for marginalized children across India. Her journey from privileged beginnings to becoming a renowned social entrepreneur and educator has inspired countless individuals. Let’s delve into the remarkable story of this visionary leader who has impacted the lives of over 50,000 children through her revolutionary initiatives.

Shaheen Mistri

Early Life and Education:
Born on March 16, 1971, into a Parsi family in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Shaheen Mistri experienced a childhood marked by exposure to diverse cultures and educational systems. Raised in an international environment due to her father’s career in banking, she attended schools in various countries, including Lebanon, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Greece, and Indonesia. Despite her privileged upbringing, Mistri felt compelled to address the glaring inequities she witnessed during visits to her homeland.

At the age of 12, Mistri embarked on her journey of social activism through volunteering, laying the groundwork for her future endeavors. After completing her schooling at Jakarta International School and Greenwich Academy, she pursued higher education at St. Xavier’s College, University of Mumbai, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Sociology. Subsequently, Mistri obtained a Master’s in Education from the University of Manchester, further honing her expertise in educational theory and practice.

Founding Akanksha Foundation:
Driven by a fervent desire to effect positive change, Mistri made the pivotal decision to return to India at the age of 18. Immersing herself in the realities of low-income communities in Mumbai, she recognized the urgent need for accessible and quality education for underprivileged children. In 1991, she founded the Akanksha Foundation, pioneering innovative approaches to education delivery.

Akanksha’s model involved utilizing vacant classrooms in schools, colleges, and offices as learning centers for marginalized children. Despite facing initial challenges in fundraising and garnering support, Mistri’s unwavering determination propelled Akanksha’s growth. Today, the foundation serves over 5,000 children across Mumbai and Pune, with a focus on holistic development and academic achievement. Through innovative programming and dedicated teamwork, Akanksha has achieved remarkable outcomes, with a significant percentage of its students progressing to higher education.

Teach For India: Bridging Educational Disparities
In 2006, Mistri’s encounter with Wendy Kopp, the CEO of Teach For America, ignited the idea of establishing a similar initiative in India. This vision materialized in 2008 with the inception of Teach For India, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing educational inequities. By recruiting top graduates and professionals as Fellows, Teach For India aims to provide quality education to children from underserved communities.

Teach For India’s Fellows, hailing from prestigious institutions worldwide, including IITs, IIMs, and Harvard, work tirelessly to empower students across seven cities in India. Through its innovative pedagogical approaches and community engagement initiatives, Teach For India seeks to create transformative learning experiences for its students, fostering empathy and critical thinking skills.

Honors and Awards:
Shaheen Mistri’s contributions to education and social entrepreneurship have garnered widespread recognition and acclaim. She has received numerous prestigious awards, including:

  • Global Leader for Tomorrow by World Economic Forum (2002)
  • Archana Trust Woman Achiever Award by Archana Trust, Mumbai (2003)
  • Asia 21 Leader (2006)
  • Selfless Service Award by Rotary International Club (2006)
  • Outstanding Leadership by World Education Congress (2015)
  • In addition to her role as founder and leader of Akanksha Foundation and Teach For India, Mistri serves on various boards and advisory committees dedicated to educational reform and social impact.

Shaheen Mistri’s extraordinary journey exemplifies the power of passion, perseverance, and compassion in driving social change. Through her relentless efforts, she has transformed the lives of countless children, offering them hope, opportunity, and a pathway to a brighter future. As a visionary leader and changemaker, Mistri continues to inspire individuals worldwide to advocate for educational equity and social justice.


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