In a world with growing environmental concerns, wood is a valuable and scarce resource. As the need for low-cost, eco-friendly infrastructures rises, a bevy of initiatives have emerged that seek to offer sustainable solutions for varied needs for green architecture. Bisman Deu is one such inventor-entrepreneur who invented a new variety of sustainable wood from rice waste.
What makes Bisman’s case noteworthy is the fact that the girl from Chandigarh was only 15 years old when she founded GreenWood.
Image Source: Vogue India
Bisman’s invention turned the spotlight on her when she was still a school-going teenager. Born in India, she spent a few years in England before returning to India with her parents. She graduated from Strawberry Fields High School in Chandigarh, and is now back in England where she studies economics, politics and international studies at the University of Warwick.
Many a great idea stems from real life experiences and Bisman’s tryst with sustainable wood started out on similar lines.
“We have a farm in Northern India on which my family grows both wheat and rice. During the harvesting season, pollution levels dramatically shoot up because rice leaves behind husk and straw which the farmers end up burning, causing air pollution. I vividly remember, that during an evening walk with my dad, I saw huge, black clouds of smoke and later started coughing profusely. From a very young age, I wanted to know the why behind everything. This curiosity led me to research more about the properties of rice husk and later this research led on to me turning my mother’s kitchen into my laboratory and through experimentation, Green Wood was born.”
Bisman developed a prototype of the recycled wood, combining husk with resin and compressing the mix into particle boards. The invention earned her a place in Unicef’s state of the world’s children report in 2015. Green Wood also took home the prize for winning idea at the Social Innovation Relay, an international competition that encourages social innovations among school students.
Continuing to develop the wood to this day, Bisman hopes it will offer low-cost building solutions for people. “GreenWood makes me want to make a difference in the hope of transforming thousands if not millions of lives,” she says.
Today, Bisman divides her time between academics and promoting entrepreneurship among students, particularly girls.
Image source: Facebook
She founded a campaign, titled Colour the World Pink, which promotes young girls to take up leadership opportunities and chart their own path to success. “Being fortunate enough to make my voice heard and having interacted with entrepreneurs from across the world, I realized, there is a huge problem of missing women in the corporate world,” she says.
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Taking note of the great disparity, she has taken it upon herself to inculcate an entrepreneurial spirit in young girls and let them know that they too can make it to the top. Pink is often associated with stereotypical depiction of the feminine, but Bisman reclaims the colour to assert independent thought and action.
As part of the campaign, she travels to schools and engages with the student through her own experiences of innovation and encourages them to take up similar initiatives. She recently organized an event in collaboration with Blue Ocean Technology, inviting a CFO to speak about the need for soft skills, and holds bake sales and lemonade sales to give the students a hands-on experience of running a business.
All her initiatives are aimed at overcoming stereotypes about careers for women based purely on pre-conceived gender notions.
“Many a times, girls are encouraged to take the medical route or do something ‘suitable’ for girls,” says Bisman. I do understand that being an entrepreneur does not guarantee a 9-5 job or a consistent stream of money. However, no girl, in my opinion should be told she cannot make it in the corporate world. Trying to foster entrepreneurial spirit from a young age gives that extra boost of confidence needed and helps you think innovative.”
In fact, Bisman turned business owner even before Green Wood. “I started my first ‘business’ when I was in 4th grade, selling psychedelic pencil decorations to my classmates. That was my first step into entrepreneurship, without even realizing, and I haven’t looked back since.”
Young as she is, this budding entrepreneur is unfazed by the challenges that come with taking charge of an enterprise.
Image source: Facebook
“I think when you set out on a path of invention or research there are multiple obstacles you face, but yet again, discovering something fascinating or knowing that what you have invented has huge potential is what keeps you going,” she says, adding that her parents and younger brother have been a strong support system for her.
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As she waits to take her entrepreneurial venture into the future, Bisman is now a familiar face at innovation and entrepreneurship forums. She is currently preparing to speak at the Women Economic Forum in Delhi in Delhi, this May. She says, “In the future I would absolutely love to make GreenWood commercial as I believe it has the potential to benefit thousands across the globe and hopefully establish myself as a successful social entrepreneur.”
To know more about Bisman Deu’s initiatives, get in touch here.