UWS Alumna Awarded Best Entrepreneur at the Inspiring Indian Women She Inspires Awards

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University of the West of Scotland (UWS) graduate Dr Rashmi Mantri has been awarded the Inspiring India Women (IIW) She Inspires award in the ‘Best Entrepreneur’ category.

Dr Rashmi Mantri, PhD 2013

Dr Rashmi Mantri received the award for her entrepreneurial journey and achievements in the field of business. She is a computer scientist-turned entrepreneur who has an online training business which includes courses on the abacus, English, and cyber awareness for young people.

Rashmi, who was also recognised at the 100 Successful Women in Business Network (100SWB), credits a lot of her success to UWS and explains how this all came about…

Education of any sort was not really available in my small town in India where I grew up but I always dreamed of further study. Although I never thought that I would get the chance to complete my Masters and then PhD at UWS.

I not only had a fun and enjoyable time at UWS – the Professors and the database research group were so supportive – but I also learned the life skills which are helping me to grow as an entrepreneur every day.

5 years at the University is no small journey and since graduation I have never looked back.

Following graduation in 2013, I worked as an IT specialist, software developer, industry trainer and university lecturer before founding the British Youth International College (BYITC).

The motivation behind this shift can be attributed to my son, Dhruv. My career focus changed completely after one mundane exchange between us turned out to be a life changing moment.

One day when Dhruv was nine years old, I gave him an easy sum to do, and was shocked when he couldn’t answer. It struck me that his inability to calculate this simple sum reflected the actual state of maths skills in a great many children. I decided to change the way he looked at numbers. I started teaching him informally using a humble and ancient device that I myself had used at school in India – the abacus. It took some time, but after learning maths using the abacus method, Dhruv could do sums even faster than a calculator.

Thousands of counting devices have been invented throughout human history, but one has stood the test of time. The abacus is said to have been invented in ancient Babylon, and is still widely accepted as one of the most versatile tools to train your brain for mathematical calculations involving large numbers.

Abacus training teaches children how to calculate sums first on a physical abacus, and then by visualising the board and using their fingers to manipulate imaginary beads. This not only allows them to do rapid calculations, but also stimulates cognitive development, improves memory, concentration and problem-solving skills, and builds confidence in the classroom and beyond.

Dhruv responded to the new method very well and picked up the abacus mental theory in six days. He even appeared on STV’s Live at Five and ITV’s Little Big Shots to showcase his remarkable ability of solving difficult sums in mere seconds, which earned him the nickname “human calculator”.

Rashmi with son Dhruv on STV

Following the TV show, I received growing demand from parents all over Scotland asking me to teach their children using the same method. They simply couldn’t believe that this was real.

I decided to start an after-school programme, teaching Abacus Maths to small groups of students in Glasgow and Edinburgh. This marked the foundation of the British Youth International College (BYITC) Supermaths, which has since evolved into an international online education platform. To this day, Dhruv continues to help develop content for our courses – now 16, he is pursuing a career in data science.

The BYITC now delivers several programmes spanning mathematics, English, programming, and cyber security, as well as summer camps and accredited challenges.

In 2018, we developed the world’s first Abacus Maths e-learning web application. This was not only a pivotal moment for the business, but it also fulfilled my personal ambition of making Abacus Maths and English language accessible to all children.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and schools were forced to close, our digital education format was already fully functional. Having already developed, tested and implemented our web application in our online courses for two years, present circumstances now highlighted its utility. We were able to offer parents peace of mind and ensure kids were still getting the high-quality, education they needed and deserved while studying from home.

The shift to digital learning during the pandemic gave us the confidence to deliver our online courses internationally. After positive feedback from students and parents alike, the business started growing very quickly.

The business has since grown, and I now have a team of twenty and 70+ teachers. The challenges that I faced initially presented a steep learning curve for me as an entrepreneur, but I am proud to say that I have successful turned my vision into a thriving business. I think the key to our success is that we have created a truly fun and engaging way to learn.

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IIW (Inspiring India Women) is one of the most recognised organisations working with women of Indian origin. IIW organises “IIW She Inspires Awards” every year to identify and recognise the ordinary women who are doing so much in their field but hardly recognised.

This year the “IIW She Inspires Awards” were organised in British Parliament, Westminster UK, hosted by Honourable M.P. Padmashree Bob Blackman.

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