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Adiba Ajanee and Maria Rompf

Adiba Ajanee and Maria Rompf come from different backgrounds, different disciplines and are at different stages in their university careers.

The two students in Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, though, share a common bond.

The duo is part of a larger team of students helping Purdue’s ISEEK (Institute for Social Empowerment through Entrepreneurship and Knowledge) empower underprivileged and poverty-stricken young people to lead healthy and prosperous lives.

Ajanee, a native of Bangladesh, will graduate in May with a degree in Economics. The German-born Rompf is a second-year MBA with a focus in Finance and Strategy. She will graduate in December.

Ajanee is responsible for ISEEK’s marketing, including social media posts and increasing the project’s presence on campus. Meanwhile, Rompf develops the business education content.

The two met last spring when Ajanee attended an ISEEK meeting.

“I’m from Bangladesh and the poverty over there is as bad as India,” Ajanee said. “It’s something people in Bangladesh are suffering from and I feel like - it’s a little ambitious – but I think it would help people all around the world. It’s very personal to me, being able to help in any way. It’s the reason I joined ISEEK.”

Rompf has been associated with the program since January 2015. Rompf’s background is in life sciences and health care, but has been a long-time proponent of women’s issues. Rompf’s combined skills align with ISEEK’s mission.

“It’s a social project but at the same time it’s technology driven,” Rompf said. “We’re doing charitable work and work that is basically helping women. We’re empowering women to become entrepreneurs to make their own lives better.”

ISEEK takes education to people, providing access to knowledge, capital, the market, talent and technology. Through an increased understanding of vocational skills, entrepreneurship and personal health knowledge, ISEEK participants build confidence, self-efficacy and trust to start and sustain a business with a sense of empowerment rather than dependency.

The goal: To graduate a minimum of 10 million people in 10 different countries in 10 years through a technology-enabled platform.

The project, led by Management Professor Alok Chaturvedi and Associate Director Sarah Patel, is designed to create a sustainable path of helping the underprivileged population lift itself up through future generations.

That’s why Ajanee became involved. This isn’t a resume-building experience, but rather an opportunity to help. Her plans are to return to Bangladesh and work for her father’s company, but ISEEK will remain close to her heart.

“When you’re privileged and you come from an underprivileged society, you see it first-hand. I could be there but thankfully I’m not,” Ajanee said. “I want to be a part of it so I can play a bigger role later on when it takes off in India and see how that pans out. If we can bring this to Bangladesh that would be something substantial.”