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17000 ft Foundation – embracing inclusion at remote altitudes

Sonia Mehrotra (Centre of Excellence for Case Development, S.P. Mandali’s Prin. L.N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research, Bengaluru, India)
Ana Colovic (Department of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, NEOMA Business School, Mont-Saint-Aignan, France)

Publication date: 28 November 2022


Learning outcomes

The case is structured to achieve the following learning objectives: ■ to assess how an intuitive response to social need can be complemented with a methodical approach to social entrepreneurship; ■ to analyse the importance of business model canvas from the social sector lens; ■ to evaluate the value created by a small NPO 17000 ft Foundation; ■ to analyse the core elements of a business model for success in the social sector; and ■ to assess and evaluate the options for an early-stage NPO to engage in scaling for a systemic impact.

Case overview/synopsis

17000 ft Foundation (hereafter referred to as 17000 ft) is a not-for-profit (NPO) organisation incepted in 2012 by Sujata Sahu, with the objective of supporting education of children living at high altitudes in remote villages of Ladakh, India. It is an effort that contributes toward objectives of clause 6.1 on educational inclusivity in the new National Education Policy 2020 of India. The case study is set in the context of Indian education, with all its challenges. It describes how Sujata Sahu was motivated to start the Foundation and how it developed to become a complex organisation working on different education-related projects simultaneously. The Foundation’s business model is interesting and unique. It leverages digital technologies to develop a network of interconnected activities, involves local communities and uses an extensive network of different kinds of stakeholders to impact a change in the quality of education in government schools in these remote villages. The case provides a solid basis for the discussion of the vital role of NPOs such as 17000 ft (in emerging economy) which is creating social and economic value for the remote villages of Ladakh, India. The new NEP 2020 argues for equity and inclusivity in education for all, but it failed to provide a blueprint for the implementation process. On the other hand, 17000 ft with its small team was invested and experimental in its approach. It had been working on the same cause of educational inclusivity. They had piloted a quality education business model for the harshest and remote Indian terrains and proven its positive impact. What were some of the core elements that had led them to success so far? The announcement of NEP 2020 provided a new ray of hope. How could they contribute and work together with the government to impact inclusive education and development in India? What collaborative mechanisms could possibly help them replicate their proven business model across the 1,000 schools of Ladakh and beyond? How could they scale for a systemic impact? After all, a nation as big as India required multiple strategies and multiple stakeholders from NPOs, private companies, government agencies, educational institutions, etc. to work collaboratively to bridge the inclusion and equity gaps in education.

Complexity academic level

The case can be used in graduate and executive education courses in entrepreneurship and strategic management. It can also be used for executive sessions at incubation centres for NPO start-ups and is aimed at early-phase social entrepreneurs.

Supplementary materials

Teaching notes are available for educators only.

Subject code

CSS 3: Entrepreneurship.



Disclaimer. This case is written solely for educational purposes and is not intended to represent successful or unsuccessful managerial decision-making. The authors may have disguised names; financial and other recognizable information to protect confidentiality.


Mehrotra, S. and Colovic, A. (2022), "17000 ft Foundation – embracing inclusion at remote altitudes", , Vol. 12 No. 4.



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