A Perspective to Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls (UN SDG5) with Bonisha Maitra
International Womens Day - Gender Equal

A Perspective to Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls (UN SDG5) with Bonisha Maitra

One main thing that nobody really talks about is how diverse the entire space is. Let's say you like art, go create NFTs. Let’s say you like hacking, you can be a developer. It's genuinely like a whole universe of opportunity and it's not biased.

Niki Faldemolaei
Niki Faldemolaei

The NextGen Economy Podcast is all about young people making waves in business and innovation. We interview some of the most inspiring change-makers out there who are developing creative solutions to achieve sustainable development goals. If you're looking for a dose of inspiration and some practical tips on how to make a difference in the world, this is the show for you.

The NextGen Economy Podcast is brought to you by ExO Angels and sponsored by Island17, Dream Tank, ExO Economy, and FutureVille. Visit us at  NextGen-Economy.com.

International Women's Day

Episode: International Women’s Day 2022


Hello everyone. Welcome to the NextGen Economy Podcast broadcasting today on International Women's Day. My name is Heidi Cuppari and I'm your host today. I am the CEO and founder of Dream Tank and now Island17, which gamifies and makes solving for the United Nations sustainable development goals super fun.

“We believe that youth will take the technology of tomorrow, today, and design the future.” ~Heidi Cuppari, Founder Dream Tank and Island17

In my travels, I met an amazing group of people who remembered what I believe in and what we do with Island17. And I got a phone call. I was sitting there with one of our newest council members, Jennifer Capo, about to submit a grant, and I thought there was something missing. Every time we do anything at Dream Tank, and now Island 17, we always get the input of young people so it felt weird. Something was off, and at that moment the phone rang and it was Rob saying, I have two 16-year-old young women who flew out here to ETH Denver who want to meet you. And I knew that was the moment when everything was going to come into alignment, the magic that was missing. So we sat down and I was fascinated by our guest today, Bonisha Maitra, and her friend Elisa's story. Take it away Bonisha.

02:45 Bonisha, the entrepreneur at 16 yrs old

Thank you so much for the introduction, Heidi. It's amazing to meet you as well. My name is Bonisha Maitra. I am 16 years old and I am located in the Bay Area, California. I am an innovator and entrepreneur. I have a pre-existing NGO that strives to help women in India have sustainable necessities, including hygiene things, water, and other resources. We provide a more sustainable lifestyle for women and girls by providing a more sustainable lifestyle. And I am also a huge enthusiast for IOT intersecting with blockchain to further help sustainable goals. So, I'm so happy to be here right now. And thank you guys so much for having me today.

03:44 Heidi, a burning question about your parents

Thank you. Thank you for that beautiful intro. And, before we go into the next question, I have to ask you a burning question that other moms and parents might have surrounding a 16yr traveling. How did you convince your parents to say yes? Tell us the story. There are a lot of parents and people who want to support their kids, and hearing your story could give them some confidence as well.

04:05 Bonisha, a convincing pitch to travel

Yeah. So personally, I totally understand having parents who are concerned for you, my parents actually immigrated from India to America. And so that itself was a huge jump. And so of course they were scared for their little girl to grow up here. It was very foreign to them overall. And so huge respect and massive hats off to both of my parents and every single immigrant parents and parents in general, for raising amazing kids. Honestly, I'm not gonna lie. Convincing them was a struggle. It took me, I'd say, around a month for them to be fully convinced,

But I would say, kids do grow up. I know it sucks a lot, especially for parents, for their little loved ones to grow up and be independent, but it has to come one way or the other. I think the way I convinced them the most is just saying hey mom, I'm going to be going off to college very soon. When people whose kids prepare to go to college, they don't know what to do with so much independence. Right? They could go the wrong way. It could go the way that they don't want it. And so,, I kind of wanted to gradually get into that independence. So I said, mom, if I go here for one week, think of it as a simulation for college. Let me get that independence and let me see what I do with it.

Let's see how I eat. Let's see how I take care of myself. Let's see what I do. And then she said, okay. And of course, there were those hourly calls with my mom checking in, those texts, and all of that. But with that, it was the silver lining of the entire situation. And honestly, it's scary, but it's bound to happen.

06:03 Heidi, why not optimize Gen Z talent?

Yeah. So everyone watching, I'm sure you are just smiling and blown away. and Bonisha represents the essence of everything that I live to support. And what I want to do with everything that we do with island 17. Bonisha is one of the newest members of our Jedi council down at Island 17.

A quick story; At one of the talks I gave, I asked how many people in the audience knew somebody from generation Z and almost everyone raised their hand. Then I said, How many of you ask these Gen Z’s for help with your technology? They all raised their hand. So, I asked, why aren't we asking them about how to use technology to design the future? With that, I'm going to ask the next question, Bonisha, as a developer yourself and going through hackathons, what do you see as the opportunity

Hackathons are the perfect opportunity to not only challenge yourself and to figure out who you are as a person, but also just to see what are we capable of.
Hackathons explore potential to create beyond yourself

07:35 Bonisha on the value of hackathons

Hackathons are the perfect opportunity to not only challenge yourself and to figure out who you are as a person, but also just to see what are we capable of. What can we do that can be made into an action where achievements don't just go into grades, but it's actual implementation in the real world.

Kids don't have a lot to lose in the first place. Understand that kids are so focused and spotlighted in terms of this new technology space. First of all, we are bound to make mistakes. Correct. We are not yet wise. We don't have that much experience. However, we don't have taxes to think about, we don't have debts. We don't have to think about family or anything. We have nothing to lose, you know And so I think it's the perfect opportunity to just put yourself out there and seek discomfort and maybe create that new comfort that makes you the best version of yourself.

10:13 Bonisha on discomfort

It's an identity thing. You never know what that discomfort may lead to. And so not knowing can also lead to a whole new world, like my first hackathon was five or six months ago. At that time I didn't have a lot of knowledge about IOT and blockchain. It was a 24-hour hackathon. I ended up researching for 13 hours straight. And then I created a smart contract that also uses IOT sensors to help farmers in Kenya. It's something that I started off with little to no knowledge about, and I just knew it existed. And then it led to something huge and massive.

It helps you grow as a human being. It helps with teamwork. It helps with leadership. It helps with just content learning, you know, and I think it's amazing. Hackathons are very popular.

11:33 Heidi

Amazing. You mentioned smart contracts. So what is your view of income-producing actions in crypto, NFTs, or smart contracts?

12:28 Bonisha on income-producing actions

I think that the entire process of staking, minting, investing, and royalty funds, all of that, are entire concepts and such amazing opportunities to actually get a source of income because it's not biased. You invest a little bit and you get even more back and there's not much to lose. The entire, income-producing actions in general, create a lot of opportunities for everyone and it's very beginner-friendly. I would say there are so many resources. And once you're in this space, it's very hard to get out of that space because it's so addicting, but in a good way, it's so rewarding and satisfying. So my view on that entire process of mining and all of that, I think it's amazing as a whole.

13:34 Heidi nextgen future-of-work

Yeah. I love it. There are reports that show that when your generation graduates from college, 60% of the jobs are not going to be there anymore. To prepare you all with the future-of-work skills is essential. To learn how to fend for yourself in the world and gain that economic opportunity at a young age doing something you love. I also believe that it is a recipe for peace. If all the kids in the world could do some of what you're doing, or they got to be expressed and be as lit up as you in the most remote areas, what do you think are the possibilities of these technologies for kids like that?

14:36 Bonisha on potential

One main thing that nobody really talks about is how diverse the entire space is. Let's say you like art, go create NFTs. Let’s say you like hacking, you can be a developer. It's genuinely a whole universe of opportunity and it's not biased. There's room for everyone, and I think that's really amazing. If it could be accessible to anyone and everyone.

“We would have the potential to genuinely and completely revolutionalize the way society works, without having to sacrifice what they're passionate about.” ~ Bonisha Maitra

ETH Denver 2022 where it all came together
ETH Denver 2022

15:57 Heidi ETH Denver and International Women's Day

Amazing. I would love now to share a little bit about your experience as a young woman, and also coming to ETH Denver and then meeting Jennifer and me, and celebrating us coming together on International Women's Day.

16:20 - Bonisha breaking through feeling inferior to feeling empowered

It feels surreal and empowering, to this day, meeting such powerful and strong women coming together. Women in general, are underrepresented in this space because the entire space is a very male dominant energy. I feel us coming together, gives me a pedestal to genuinely put my voice forward. Because there is genuine change being made in society today I imagine if we were to ask a woman, let's say 50 years ago that this might happen, I am pretty positive it would be a rare sight to see any woman, let alone a 16 year old girl.

Honestly the entire week, I'm not going to lie, I felt pretty inferior. I felt as though I didn't belong there even though I did everything else that the other sponsored kids did. I don't know what inside me told me to be quiet, no more networking. It was really hard to get my voice across in comparison to five other boys my age, or that seemed older. To them, it was very natural, I can't do this. And it's really interesting to me because I personally am an extrovert!

I love socializing. I love meeting new people. And then suddenly I just see myself in a space where I felt okay, I should quiet down a little and just observe. But then as soon as I met you guys, I was like, why am I doing that? There was no reason for that, brains don't have gender's, brains don't have any of this, so why do I feel the need to completely change myself? So I think overall it was just really empowering and it was an amazing thing.

20:21 Heidi on women in finance

What can we celebrate about women and girls today? When we see more women in the space and they are welcoming, and give us permission to step forward, and more and that, culture matters and feeling welcomed matters, and feminine energy matters in the space. I've been a woman in finance and tech for many years and, I've sometimes felt that and sometimes not, but, we are growing a lot and I know that, that the space wants a lot of more women and girls, so it's a really exciting time.

— Catch the rest of the podcast episode where Bonisha and Heidi discuss changing hierarchy, creating zen zones and child care spaces —

26:27 Heidi wrapping up

Beautiful. And let's just wrap, by having a final comment about international women's day, if there's anything else you would like to share, to this audience now that you have the pedestal and you have the voice.

27:18 Bonisha’s mic drop

I think embracing the qualities that women have in the first place and how powerful they are and how significant that they are is so amazing. And so I'm putting all of the women all around the world, on the pedestal with me, because I think they all deserve a huge amount of gratitude every single day. But especially today, especially to women who have huge, huge, huge dreams, and sometimes feel it's not possible.

It is possible. Just try to grab every single opportunity you are handed. And I would echo many, many times seek discomfort because it's not always going to be comfortable. And I can guarantee you the people that seem like they made it big, had uncomfortable times as well. You can change the world, you just have to believe it. The only person who has power over yourself is you. So don't let other people tear you down because there will be a lot of people tearing you down. You just have to be resilient, ignore the haters and you do you.

28:22 Gratitude

Drop the mic. Bonisha, I really can't follow that at all. I am so happy that we met you. Your voice is going to be heard and ripple through this beautiful community and beyond. And we're so excited to work on all kinds of awesome gender integrations into our game with you. And, having gender equality achieved in no time for solving the SDGs.

NextGen Economy Podcast - Accelerating Breakthroughs
NextGen Economy Podcast

The NextGen Economy Podcast is brought to you by ExO Angels and sponsored by Island17, Dream Tank, ExO Economy, and FutureVille. Visit us at  NextGen-Economy.com.

NexGen Economy Podcast, Accelerating Breakthroughs


Featured Entrepreneur: Bonisha Maitra is a 16-year-old high school student striving to intersect women empowerment in India with technology. Currently studying, researching, and creating techs within the IoT and Web3 field, as well as founding & leading a global-scale nonprofit organization (Project Sundar) to expand education, supply resources, and accelerate empowerment for women in India. Looking for internship opportunities, as well as any form of mentorship in these fields! LinkedIn | Project Sundar

Host | Content Creator: Heidi Cuppari is the Founder and CEO of Dreamtank whose mission is to ignite youth around the world through entrepreneurship to use their imaginations to innovate the future and make their biggest dreams a reality. Gamification is proven as a systems-changing groundbreaking way to solve complex problems with a new mindset.

Utilizing the Octalysis framework integrated with 6 years of programming through Dream Tank, and Yu-Kai Chou as one of our advisors and members of our “Braintrust Jedi Council” and existing founding members of Island17. Island17 is a Universe of Possibility, creating the infrastructure to motivate people to come together to create exponential advancements for humanity. LinkedIn link  | Twitter link  | Dream Tank | Island17  | HeidiCuppari.com

Collaborators from the OpenExO Community of coaches, consultants, investors, and entrepreneurs whose collective massively transformative purpose is ‘Transforming the World for a Better Future’:  Article Editor - Lisa Pereira - LinkedIn  |  Podcast Editor - Niki Faldemolaei - LinkedIn

Executive Producer: ExO Economy and ExO Angels(™) provide funding for the creation and distribution of the exoskeleton roadshow(™) and NextGen Economy(™) initiatives and is sponsor for the Augmented Human Performance Village.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not those of OpenExO Inc., its members, affiliates, or associates.  The content is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult directly your own appropriate advisors and professionals as to those matters.

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