Ayushi: Entrepreneur following legendary grandfather Manu Chandaria's footsteps

Ayushi Chandaria. [Samson Wire, Standard]

At 93 years, Manu Chandaria, one of Kenya's most illustrious industrialists no longer wishes to talk about business.

But through his granddaughter, Ayushi Chandaria, his knack for business continues to excel. 

The 24-year-old Ayushi, who is a graduate of the prestigious Standford University, has already worked for top global firms such as renowned consulting giant McKinsey & Company.

She worked there as a business analyst for one-and-a-half years before returning to Kenya to launch a design thinking project.

Dubbed the ten-week programme, the project runs at the USIU-Africa and is open to the public through applications.

Here, she teaches important venture skills such as technology integration and storytelling to design, build and communicate a product or venture to their communities.

In addition to learning design skills and working on their own projects, teams are mentored as they listen to stories of and work closely with prominent entrepreneurs, designers and tech companies globally and in Kenya. 

Industrialist Manu Chandaria. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Ms Ayushi imparts lessons and experience acquired through her Stanford degree in Product Design and Computer Science and work at global consultancy firm McKinsey, which serves leading businesses, governments, non-governmental organisations, and non-profit organisations.

"A large part of my curriculum at Stanford involved design thinking, which I believe is a powerful tool for problem-solving. Teaching design to students in the context of innovation and social impact will allow students to start coming up with innovative solutions for their communities," said Ayushi.

Design thinking uses a user-centric point of view. It allows solutions to be formed through understanding the user and rapidly testing and prototyping solutions to reach the optimal outcome for the end-user.

Instead of guessing what a user wants, you actually go out into the field and understand the user, empathise with them, present their prototype, and use their feedback to create a product.

Design thinking has been used by large individuals and organisations worldwide and has been recognised by world-class educational and business institutions. 

The launch of the programme was attended by top minds including USIU-Africa Chancellor Dr Manu Chandaria, artist Daniel Ndambuki aka Mwalimu Churchill, who hosts the popular Churchill Show, Prof Scott Bellows, who heads the USIU Innovation and Incubation Centre and Ms Ayushi Chandaria among others.

Dr Chandaria gave an opening speech to inspire young innovators and entrepreneurs to understand and use the design thinking approach to solve unique individual or community problems and needs.

Manu Chandaria with his granddaughter Ayushi Chandaria at their residence in Muthaiga. [Samson Wire, Standard]

"If you want to make something, to make it happen, you have to be in it. For everything I achieved, I paid the price for it in terms of putting my time in it, thinking of solutions, innovating," he said. 

Ms Ayushi will be attending Harvard Business School in the fall, but she is confident that as the design thinking project grows, she will launch it in various local universities.

"We are planning to grow this programme and offer it to more students in the next year if it goes successfully," she said about the programme's future.

The training will happen weekly for the next ten weeks at the Innovation and Incubation Centre, USIU-Africa, and conclude with a final pitch session where student teams will share their projects. 

Ayushi is also a renowned swimmer representing the country in numerous junior international competitions in the past. 

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