Project DEFY

Self-learning space

Project DEFY, Kaggalipura Makerspace Kaggalipura, Karnataka 560082, Inde

Fab Lab Community center

Space size 80 m²

Opened in March 2014

Structure type Non-profit organisation

Explored in June 2017


Project DEFY is helping communities create their own schools, using makerspaces, computers and Internet, and showing people how to teach themselves.

Main interests

Technology - machines & tools Social initiatives Community Entrepreneurship Education Energy & environment Health & well-being Recycling & upcycling Food Agriculture Self-sufficiency Clothing & accessories Fashion & textile

This workshop is great for:

Adolescents between 12-18 Kids under 12 People with disabilities Hobbyist makers Schools & universities Public organisations Non-profit organisations Seniors General public Students Craftsmen Artists

The closest workshops nearby are:

Interview & guided tour

Meet someone from the team & discover the space by yourself!

Our workshop

Learn more about our space, members, machines & services!

Project DEFY started in March 2014 when Abhijit Sinha, at that time staying in a small village called Banjarapallaya next to Bangalore, realized 2 things:

• 95% of its inhabitants had never used a laptop nor a smartphone,

• And those same inhabitants could easily and quickly learn by themselves.

At that time, Abhijit experimented the self-learning lab. He let open to anyone the house he was staying in with basic tools (hammers, screwdrivers, …), junks from trashes and 5 laptops with free internet access. 1,5 years later, 45 people were regularly coming to the space making and learning things on their own. The space seemed to run by itself. Project DEFY and its Nooks, small self-learning schools, were born.

Today, 4 Nooks opened: 2 in the outskirts of Bangalore, 1 in Kochi and 1 in Uganda, this latter in partnership with Social Innovation Academy and Nakivart.

According to Megha and Abhijit, the current education system targets a small amount of the Indian population. And even that doesn’t work so well. Project Defy aims to democratize education and customize it according to each community’s needs thanks to Nooks, self-learning spaces, which are “accessible, equitable and localized”.

Those Nooks rely on 2 basic tenets: “learning happens naturally” and “information is available freely”. Nooks provide the framework and the communities create their own learning paths.

A Nook is an age, learning and qualification agnostic space. By mixing the different communities of a single village, Project DEFY wants to “develop the social behavior”.

Today, between 25 and 50 people from 7 to 55 years old come daily in the space: 50% from 15 to 21 years old, 30% from 11 to 14 and 20% of other age range.

In this Nook, the team tries to focus on women who are highly marginalized. They currently represent 60% of the members thanks to Deepika, the outreach manager, who reassure them. Moreover, most of the users have an average income of 100€ per month per household.

The Nook hasn’t fixed time to bring flexibility to the community.

Word-of-month is very strong to make people come in the space. That’s also part of Deepika’s job: she meets communities, families with flyers to talk about the Nook.

The purpose of their coming in the Nook is very diverse. Some may look for wifi access and computer classes, others for an after-class community space, or just a place to learn, make,…

Many women come to the Nook to become more independent and launch their own local business.

During the first 8 months, Project DEFY literally started with nothing: a free space, few materials and laptops donated by an organization and scraps.

As Project Defy started organically, the team decided their model couldn’t be expensive. The operational costs of a Nook shouldn’t exceed 500$ per month: 12,5% for the Internet, 12,5% for the space rent, 12,5% for utilities, 12,5% for materials and 50% for wages.

Project DEFY’s legal structure was created last year as a non-profit organization based on a franchise model. If someone wants to run a “Nook” as a brand, he’ll be helped during the first 8 months by the team (1 month on the ground, 7 virtually) and then he’ll have to pay management fees and report remotely.

In 2016, project DEFY received 15 000$: 50% from crowdfunding, 50% from institutions. In 2017, 140 000$ will be needed to expand as many new actions are planned this year:

  • 10 new Nooks

  • Fundraising event from July to kickstart “Defy talks” (regular events promoting the self-learning concept)

  • “The waking dream fellowship” in September

  • Creation of the “Spring board”, a 1-month long program for self-learning educators

  • A self-assessment platform tool is under development to generate further revenues thanks to a fremium model

The 3rd pillar of its business model will come from donations and partnerships. Currently, DEFY partners with many institutions that help it to develop its model.

Project DEFY’s team comprises 5 core members in charge of developing partnerships, fundraising, creating content, kickstarting and managing Nooks until it’s become independent.

Each Nook has at least 2 lab managers: one outreach and one management lead. Once a member of the team wants to move out, he has to find his successor.

When a new person steps in the Nook, the team interviews him to hear his expectations and explain him the concept. Secondly, an Induction program is set up to introduce him self-learning and self-governance concepts and connect him to the other Nook users.

No workshop nor class occurs in the Nook as it’s a self-learning space even though whoever can freely organize his own workshop. Every day, a circle takes place to build the community: everyone has to tell his name, what he learnt from the last time and something new about himself.

This year, Project Defy kickstarted a crowdfunding campaign to launch a one-year program for women in September: the “Waking dreams fellowship”. 6 women from the Nook Village will be able to achieve their dream thanks to a monthly allowance, a trainer match support and mentorship. Through this fellowship, Project DEFY wants to generate role models for women in the villages.

In each Nook, once someone enters the space, he is taught how to document his project on Instructables. During a project, each step must be taken in picture and posted on the platform. To do so, a laptop and a smartphone are available in the Nook.

According to Abhijit, this rule is all the more important since the members can improve their English, get useful feedbacks on their projects and will even be able to show their creations while applying to a job.

In parallel, Abhijit and Megha are building a “self-assessment learning platform”. Thanks to this latter, the Nook users will be able to post their project and get more insights from their peers on it.

Project DEFY started in March 2014 when Abhijit Sinha, at that time staying in a small village called Banjarapallaya next to Bangalore, realized 2 things:

• 95% of its inhabitants had never used a laptop nor a smartphone,

• And those same inhabitants could easily and quickly learn by themselves.

At that time, Abhijit experimented the self-learning lab. He let open to anyone the house he was staying in with basic tools (hammers, screwdrivers, …), junks from trashes and 5 laptops with free internet access. 1,5 years later, 45 people were regularly coming to the space making and learning things on their own. The space seemed to run by itself. Project DEFY and its Nooks, small self-learning schools, were born.

Today, 4 Nooks opened: 2 in the outskirts of Bangalore, 1 in Kochi and 1 in Uganda, this latter in partnership with Social Innovation Academy and Nakivart.

According to Megha and Abhijit, the current education system targets a small amount of the Indian population. And even that doesn’t work so well. Project Defy aims to democratize education and customize it according to each community’s needs thanks to Nooks, self-learning spaces, which are “accessible, equitable and localized”.

Those Nooks rely on 2 basic tenets: “learning happens naturally” and “information is available freely”. Nooks provide the framework and the communities create their own learning paths.

A Nook is an age, learning and qualification agnostic space. By mixing the different communities of a single village, Project DEFY wants to “develop the social behavior”.

Today, between 25 and 50 people from 7 to 55 years old come daily in the space: 50% from 15 to 21 years old, 30% from 11 to 14 and 20% of other age range.

In this Nook, the team tries to focus on women who are highly marginalized. They currently represent 60% of the members thanks to Deepika, the outreach manager, who reassure them. Moreover, most of the users have an average income of 100€ per month per household.

The Nook hasn’t fixed time to bring flexibility to the community.

Word-of-month is very strong to make people come in the space. That’s also part of Deepika’s job: she meets communities, families with flyers to talk about the Nook.

The purpose of their coming in the Nook is very diverse. Some may look for wifi access and computer classes, others for an after-class community space, or just a place to learn, make,…

Many women come to the Nook to become more independent and launch their own local business.

During the first 8 months, Project DEFY literally started with nothing: a free space, few materials and laptops donated by an organization and scraps.

As Project Defy started organically, the team decided their model couldn’t be expensive. The operational costs of a Nook shouldn’t exceed 500$ per month: 12,5% for the Internet, 12,5% for the space rent, 12,5% for utilities, 12,5% for materials and 50% for wages.

Project DEFY’s legal structure was created last year as a non-profit organization based on a franchise model. If someone wants to run a “Nook” as a brand, he’ll be helped during the first 8 months by the team (1 month on the ground, 7 virtually) and then he’ll have to pay management fees and report remotely.

In 2016, project DEFY received 15 000$: 50% from crowdfunding, 50% from institutions. In 2017, 140 000$ will be needed to expand as many new actions are planned this year:

  • 10 new Nooks

  • Fundraising event from July to kickstart “Defy talks” (regular events promoting the self-learning concept)

  • “The waking dream fellowship” in September

  • Creation of the “Spring board”, a 1-month long program for self-learning educators

  • A self-assessment platform tool is under development to generate further revenues thanks to a fremium model

The 3rd pillar of its business model will come from donations and partnerships. Currently, DEFY partners with many institutions that help it to develop its model.

Project DEFY’s team comprises 5 core members in charge of developing partnerships, fundraising, creating content, kickstarting and managing Nooks until it’s become independent.

Each Nook has at least 2 lab managers: one outreach and one management lead. Once a member of the team wants to move out, he has to find his successor.

When a new person steps in the Nook, the team interviews him to hear his expectations and explain him the concept. Secondly, an Induction program is set up to introduce him self-learning and self-governance concepts and connect him to the other Nook users.

No workshop nor class occurs in the Nook as it’s a self-learning space even though whoever can freely organize his own workshop. Every day, a circle takes place to build the community: everyone has to tell his name, what he learnt from the last time and something new about himself.

This year, Project Defy kickstarted a crowdfunding campaign to launch a one-year program for women in September: the “Waking dreams fellowship”. 6 women from the Nook Village will be able to achieve their dream thanks to a monthly allowance, a trainer match support and mentorship. Through this fellowship, Project DEFY wants to generate role models for women in the villages.

In each Nook, once someone enters the space, he is taught how to document his project on Instructables. During a project, each step must be taken in picture and posted on the platform. To do so, a laptop and a smartphone are available in the Nook.

According to Abhijit, this rule is all the more important since the members can improve their English, get useful feedbacks on their projects and will even be able to show their creations while applying to a job.

In parallel, Abhijit and Megha are building a “self-assessment learning platform”. Thanks to this latter, the Nook users will be able to post their project and get more insights from their peers on it.

Technologies & processes available

Electronics Wood working tools Traditional tools

Services offered

Community center

Our best practices

The inspiring things we do here to run our collaborative space

Systematic documentation on Instructables

What is it?

All the projects developed by the Nook’s users are documented and posted on Instructables.

In concrete terms?

In each Nook, once someone enters the space, he is taught how to document his project on Instructables. During a project, each step must be taken in picture and posted on the platform. To do so, a laptop and a smartphone are available in the Nook.

Why it’s interesting?

According to Abhijit, this rule is all the more important since the members can improve their English, get useful feedbacks on their projects and will even be able to show their creations while applying to a job.


Self-independent spaces

What is it?

All Nooks are different and adapted to the needs of their community.

In concrete terms?

To launch a Nook, a member of Project Defy core team provides an 8-month support to the local team: 1 month on the field, 7 months remotely. In return, the Nook managers pay management fees and send regular reports on the space activities to Project DEFY. Apart from that, the space managers can do whatever they want according to the community needs: materials, events, workshops, targeted population, …

Why it’s interesting?

Each local community is different and has different needs: Internet access, fabrication tools, launching one’s business, …As a self-learning space, those populations will build with the Nook team the space.


Our makers projects

Get inspired by the DIY projects of our team & members

Terra Neeru - a low-cost aquaponic system for farmers

What’s the project story?

Respectively 20 and 23 years old, Ajay and Abhinav are highly aware of the water supply issues faced by small local farmers in India. Indeed, in 2015, more than 2,000 Indian farmers committed suicides mostly because of water drought. Consequently, less and less people want to work as a farmer and leave their villages to go to cities.

In December 2015, Ajay started to work on Terra Neeru, an aquaponic system which has several advantages for local farmers:

  • It can save 70% of water
  • As it’s a vertical system, it doesn’t break the back of farmers
  • This cheap mechanism will decrease the need of labours to farm

How do they interact with the workshop?

Today 5 in the team, they’ve developed a 100-dollar prototype in the Nook which provided them with raw materials, fabrication tools and network. Indeed, in January 2017, they got funded by the organization IDIN (International Development Innovation Network).

What’s next?

In September 2017, they’ve planned to do a pilot in a nearby farm to grow cow food out of the aquaponic system. In parallel, they’re in talk with organizations working in the dairy sector. Their main target is farmers who have uncultivated fields because of water shortages.


Umbrella Lehenga - hand-made Indian traditional clothes

What’s the project story?

Reshma is a housewife who used from time to time to do some tailoring work at home, like creating dresses! Once she heard of the Nook, she decided to step in to try to launch her own activity by herself.

How does she interact with the workshop?

Reshma comes in the lab twice a week. Thanks to the Nook, she learnt on Youtube how to sew with different techniques. That’s how she created “Umbrella lehenga”: broad and long skirts made out of Sari fabrics.

What’s next?

Reshma aims to learn more designs thanks to the free wifi access provided by the Nook. Then she’ll be able to get contracts with the village inhabitants to sell her creations.


Hand-made jewels

What’s the project story?

Deepika, the outreach manager of Kaggalipura’s Nook, developed her own jewellery activity last year. She’s already sold more than 200 jewels in colleges, during events and also in the Nook itself.

How does she interact with the workshop?

Thanks to the Internet, she learnt different jewel fabrication techniques and used scrap materials to create her own jewels.

Now, she teaches in the Nook these techniques to 2 women from the village whom from time to time work also for her.

What’s next?

Deepika aims to grow her business by developing her online platform. Again thanks to the Nook and its Internet access, she can learn how to create it by herself. As Defy has no teacher, she has to search for solutions.

Her goal is to provide jobs for up to 10 women.


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