Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only Interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Soraya Fouladi, founder and CEO of Jara. Soraya has created a device that can solve the problem that 800 million children face every day! Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world!
Spiffy: Welcome, Soraya! Okay now, you’ve got to tell me! What educational challenge are you addressing?
Soraya: Okay, Spiffy, do you know how you and your audience will read this on a tablet, a computer, or a phone? Well, not every child has access to electronics like you have! There are many kids who live in areas of the world where they do not have constant access to electricity or the internet. Sometimes, when emergencies happen, you have to do school from home, using your devices. What do the students in these off-grid communities do when this happens? Well, Spiffy, over 800 million children live in these communities and need a solution!
Spiffy: 800 million? I had no idea, Soraya! Tell me more! What motivated you to tackle this enormous problem?
Soraya: Things weren’t always easy for me when I was a kid. Both of my parents were going through a lot of hardship and were unable to go to work. What made everything easier and what gave me a chance at having a really great life, was being able to go to an amazing school and learning a lot of awesome stuff. I realized, not every kid in tough situations has a great school to go to or the technology to learn awesome stuff. Every child on this planet deserves access to quality education at all times, so they can learn anything and make their dreams come true.
Spiffy: Every child on the planet does deserve access to quality education! Can you tell me how you’re working to make this a reality and to make the world more equitable for these children?
Soraya: Sure, Spiffy! When I was a teenager, I knew this was a huge problem, so I invented The Jara Unit! It is a hand-held device specifically made for students in low-electricity and low-internet communities so they can also access learning anywhere, anytime. It’s a rectangle-shaped device, with a screen in the middle, buttons on the front to navigate the screen, and to charge it we do something really cool—the device has a solar panel on the back of it so that students can use the sun to charge the device. It also has a crank on the side of the device that you spin to charge it!
Spiffy: What kind of milestone have you reached that makes you especially excited?
Soraya: Today, 800 million children need the Jara Unit so they too can learn from home. Over 15 countries have asked us to bring the Jara Unit to every student that needs it in their country. With the Jara Unit, every child on the planet can get access to a quality education anywhere, anytime!
Spiffy: Soraya, could you share about a time when you faced failure and didn't give up? What did you learn from failure?
Soraya: When I was growing up, I was training every day to be a professional ballet dancer. I put all my free time into it and I loved it more than anything. One day, I tried to skateboard and broke my ankle. I had to get surgery and I couldn’t dance for a very long time. I was really sad, and I had to find something new to do with my future. That is when I decided to live by my mission of accelerating positive change in this world and I came up with the idea for Jara! I learned that nothing is actually a failure, but instead, a redirection to something bigger and better!
Spiffy: I’m curious who has inspired you recently. What did they teach you?
Soraya: What I learned recently from my favorite superhero, The Flash, is "You can't solve a problem until you're asking the right question". So if you are struggling to solve a problem, try asking a different question!
Spiffy: Before we sign off, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Soraya: One lesson I have learned that I would love to share with you all is to never give up. I know a lot of people say that, but sometimes it’s easy to walk away from something you believe in—if one or two or maybe a few people say they don’t believe in it. But if you have an idea, and there are a lot of people asking for your solution, then keep going! No matter how hard things get, keep going! The world needs you to make your idea a reality! Especially if you want to make a positive impact in this world!
Spiffy: Thank you for being persistent with your idea, Soraya! I think you’re going to inspire many more kids to do the same! Over and out!
Soraya Fouladi, founder and CEO of Jara, is on a mission to ensure children everywhere get access to a quality education anywhere, anytime. She became an electrical engineer and a teacher so that she could build her invention, the Jara Unit, for students globally. (Nominated by IndieBio. First published on the Ladderworks website on October 13, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.