Sahar Mansoor is a social entrepreneur and an environmentalist. She is the founder and CEO of the Bengaluru (India) based zero-waste social enterprise. Sahar attended Cambridge University studying environmental economics and environmental law. Upon leaving she worked for the World Health Organisation. For her, this was an incredible experience that opened her eyes to the disparity in the environment and the need to take action. She worked alongside some incredible people, which taught her valuable lessons that she has put to good use and that she would eventually embed into her business.
However, in Sahar’s early years it was expected that she wouldn’t meet the standard to leave India to attend college, let alone go to Cambridge University. However, Sahar had the privilege and the good fortune to grow up in a loving supportive family. Her mother was determined to help with her slow pace of reading, tutoring her after school. Her sisters would also support her, taking her to the library where they would help her to read. Her wish to achieve success taught her the value of hard work; she was resilient and determined.
It was at the tender age of 7 she recognised herself that she was having difficulties in recognising the letters of the alphabet. By the time she was 16, she was formally assessed for dyslexia. Her psychology teacher at school recognised that there was an obvious problem as she could never write at the speed of her thought process. When applying for a scholarship, she was cautioned and told to consider her actions. People said that being dyslexic would bar her from receiving any notable scholarship, let alone getting accepted into a top tier university like Cambridge. However, Sahar did not let these comments get in her way. She believed that anything would be possible with hard work and dedication.
For Sahar, being dyslexic has been a blessing in disguise. Remarkably she admits that she has had her fair share of failures and disappointments along the way. More importantly, these failures have helped to build her resilience and learnt the importance of being optimistic and believing in yourself. When people told her that a dyslexic person cannot run a business, she told them otherwise! She said that if you don’t believe in yourself, who will.
Growing up in India cultivated her ideas of going into business and embarking on her zero-waste journey. She learned a lot about Indian traditions rooted in ecological practices, or a modern version of zero waste practices, from her grandma which has led to her pursuing a zero-waste lifestyle. She felt overwhelmed with India’s trash problem which she could see every day piling up on the streets. She spent time with pickers who would sort through waste with their bare hands. She began to think about the environmental, health and social justice issues associated with India’s garbage problem. Other than ecology, India is also recognised for its bazaars and small entrepreneurs. She says that people in India love things homemade, they love DIY and love their traditions.
Sahar’s business is an attempt to celebrate the beauty and the richness of India Sahar found that it was impossible to find personal care and home products that didn’t come packaged in plastics and contained toxic products. She created a company that incorporated her values of zero waste, ethical consumption and sustainability, encouraging people to be more mindful of what they bought and to produce less waste. Combining a belief in herself and in the wish to celebrate India, its ancient traditions and practices all with a modern twist, her business Bare Necessities was born.