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InnoBlog: Being a sustainability warrior

On top of their career aspirations, many EIT InnoEnergy students have the ambition to contribute to society in ways that complement the energy transition. A prime example is Mohammed Finzer Akkara, a graduating student from the MSc. Renewable Energy programme. Finzer decided to return back home after his studies  in Europe to work with the NGO waste warriors, situated in Dehradun, India.


Finzer came across “waste warriors” while working on an ESADE project as part EIT InnoEnergy  Innovation and Entrepreneurship Journey during the Master’s. Their work ethic towards cleaner India and their efforts at social intervention is what impressed him the most. The NGO has been exceptional during Covid-19 pandemic as well. They held their waste workers or kabaddi wala close to their heart, helping them out in every way possible. The organisation recognises that waste pickers are an essential part of the society and they deserve our respect and appreciation, which I find very impressive!


Tell us a bit about your role at waste warriors.

Apart from managing the waste collectors, the NGO’s other services include waste collection, waste composting, waste recycling, event waste management, community clean-up and education and outreach programmes. So, at present the intervention done by Waste Warriors is after the waste is created. I am part of a Growth Team that wants to change this approach. We are putting together a project proposal for Sustainable Products and Services Marketplace where eco-friendly and sustainable products and services will be provided to the residents of India. Hence, reducing waste creation in the first place.

How did EIT InnoEnergy Masters prepare you for this role?

My Master’s in Renewable Energy programme has certainly helped me find out about the organisation in the first place. Furthermore, the courses related to Waste to Energy, Nature Based Solutions and other Sustainability related courses have equipped me with adequate knowledge to understand the problems and improve the situation, helping me be an integral part of the new intervention mentioned above.

Has this been a fulfilling experience?

So far, the experience has been great. I am working remotely due to coronavirus concerns. There is a dedicated Slack channel to facilitate communications, and I am given the freedom to be creative and express myself. The flexibility they offered during these tough times has been very beneficial for me, as I can be close to my family and work on my internship at the same time. The experience has been very fulfilling due to the fact that I am working for an organisation that wants to bring about sustainable changes and I can use the knowledge that I have gathered during my studies to make a direct impact in my home country. To me, this role is also very impactful, due to the lives that it transforms.

Any encouraging words for future students who want to take this path?

If social intervention is what you are interested in then go for organisations like Waste Warriors. The beauty of my programme is that additionally to the two engineering degrees from top technical European universities I have also gathered transferable skills that allowed me to go into the industry I am passionate about. It is a completely different experience when you have to create proposals by talking to people who are not well equipped in your field of studies. It was eye-opening to experience that people are still unaware of some of the common sustainability topics, not only in energy industry but in general, we speak about on a day-to-day basis at EIT InnoEnergy Master School. Influencing decisions on this scale is very fulfilling and I will definitely recommend this experience.