Inspiring Social Change - Alinery's story
Alinery Lianhlawng (Sussex MBA 2019) is a social entrepreneur and passionate advocate for quality education, social change, and women’s empowerment particularly in Asia. She provides educational opportunities through building libraries and one-on-one mentoring and consultation for urban poor and marginalised rural communities.
The first woman in her remote, rural community in Mizoram, India to access higher education abroad and the first in her family to attend university, Alinery is passionate about empowering other indigenous women and young girls. She is a Rising Star and mentor at Wedu (an organization supporting women in leadership in Asia) and a community change-maker. She also champions equality, insuring diversity and inclusion for otherwise marginalised people in the education system. Alinery founded Rochun: Pay It Forward – a social venture aiming to provide access to educational resources and increase the leadership skills of young people in India and Myanmar. Rochun provides both online and physical libraries and aims to set up a library in every school in the Indian state of Mizoram. During the pandemic, Alinery and her team worked with an Oxford charity to loan laptops to students in need across Africa and Asia. In 2021 Rochun shipped 10,000 books to their new libraries from the UK.
Applying MBA skills to grow her business
Since graduating the Sussex MBA in 2019, Alinery has applied her Master’s skills and business knowledge to grow Rochun. She mentors 15-20 young people, supporting them in their studies and to find their purpose in life. Alinery helps her mentees to envisage a whole world beyond what they currently know and experience.
Rochun began as a library construction project in one Mizoram school and expanded to establish libraries in eight schools across Mizoram, Jharkhand, Bihar and Myanmar. Rochun now provides both physical and online libraries of resources and has grown to incorporate the mentoring and leadership scheme. This has created reciprocity and enabled those that benefit from Rochun’s work to ‘pay it forward’ and support other young people in turn.
In 2021, Rochun co-hosted the first Asia Pacific Youth Exchange India at an online symposium, in collaboration with Planning & Programme Implementation Department, Government of Mizoram, and the Urban Youth Academy, South Korea. Over 200 participants from 20 different countries from Mongolia to Japan took part. They were hosted by local communities across Mizoram to immerse in local projects and help find innovative solutions with positive change benefits aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The three winning teams received funding for their projects and will attend the next Youth Exchange.
Inspiring future business leaders
Alinery exemplifies what it means to be a global citizen. She has undertaken an internship at the Bank of South Korea and has presented papers to JICA in Tokyo about the hardships and struggles she has faced as a woman, a member of an indigenous tribe and as someone from a developing country.
In her public speaking role, Alinery has inspired hundreds of people at major international conferences including TedX and the World Literacy Summit. She has brought attention to educational inequality through the lens of her own indigenous community experience. As a first-generation scholar, Alinery’s story truly embodies the powerful impact access to education can have on both women’s leadership development and community growth.
Alinery motivates the young people she mentors; some are now studying Master’s degrees in the UK. She has taken her experience and her work with Rochun to over 20 countries around the world and inspired them to seek their own answers to the same challenges. As a young woman from a community which has restricted access to higher education for women, Alinery is an inspirational role model for many future business leaders.