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- Sabriye Tenberken, Co-Founder and Co-Director at Kanthari International

UST Global and Kanthari International

A Partnership for Transforming Lives

A small chilli can make a huge difference – Sabriye Tenberken

One of UST Global’s strongest partnerships in transforming lives began in 2007, with the international leadership centre “Kanthari” at Trivandrum, India.

A ‘Kanthari’ is a leader who has overcome adversity, want to help others in their struggles, or develop solutions to problems we all face.  The name Kanthari comes from “spicy chilly”. In that essence, Kanthari’s objective is to develop “Spicy Leaders” – Leaders with fire in their belly and spice in their actions, for ethical social change.


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Kanthari was co-founded in 2005 by Sabriye Tenberken and Paul Kronenberg.  Inspiration from Sabriye’s personal path, became the driving force behind this academic program.  Fully blind at the age of 12, she overcame adversity. She went on to study Tibetology at Bonn University and then travelled the Himalayas on horseback.  It was during her time in Tibet that she discovered the stigma attached to people with disabilities, particularly blindness.  It was considered a punishment for misdeeds in a previous life. Inspiration took hold and Sabriye opened the first school for the blind in Tibet, eventually leading her to be a co-founder of Kanthari.  Here, her passion would have a home, to make the world a better place.

Kanthari is engaged in training and equipping visionaries who come from the margins of society who have talent, ownership and an intrinsic drive to create ethical social change.  At its lakeside campus partly powered by green energy, Kanthari runs a 7-month leadership program that is geared especially for people with big dreams and passion.


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The Kanthari course is an experiential leadership program that draws participants (students) and catalysts (teachers) from all over the world.   The Curriculum is a journey in five acts:

Act 1: Participants practice implementing social projects in an imaginary country that is similar to a developing country with its many problems, challenges and opportunities.
Act 2: Participants work on a social transformation project.
Act 3: Consists of a six-week internship where all skills that were gathered during the first two acts will be implemented in practice.  
Act 4: Upon completion of the internship, the participants will return to the campus and prepare for their graduation in Act 4.   
Act 5: Graduates return to their home communities and launch their individual dream projects with the support of a network of mentors and international experts.

UST Global was one of the first companies that got to know us and that we got to know in the Trivandrum area.   From the very beginning, they believed in our dream...our dream factory...they believed in social change, and they believed in humanity...what we have found is that we are actually sharing the three values—humility, humanity and integrity...Together with UST Global, we will go this path and empower visionaries who will go out into the world to transform lives and create social change through innovation.

“I truly enjoyed visiting the campus, and could feel the vibe of transformation in the air!  We would love to contribute in any way we can.  Thanks again!”

-Budi Utama, Center Head, UST Global Manila

“Thanks a lot for the two opportunities you made possible for me to meet with high level people--Press Conference and UST Global leaders...Amazing! ....Thanks a lot and be blessed!”

-Stevo Conyang, Kanthari 2013 Participant, speaking meeting with the UST Global initiatives for Kanthari

"It was of great pleasure to be part of this spectacular day (meeting with UST Global leadership team). A lot of knowledge and insights shared, I must say thanks a lot for being part of this journey that we are all undertaking."

-Kamanshyu Harriet, Kanthari 2013 Participant, speaking meeting with the UST Global leadership team at Trivandrum

“The rallying cry for Kanthari is “a sense of ownership, motivation, creativity, talent and passion to make the world a better place and the strength to be forces of good rather than victims of circumstance.   No dream seems too small, no obstacle too big. We can benefit from this perspective in North Carolina... But we need more chili peppers reminding us of what is truly possible.”

– Christopher Gergen was part of the Duke University team that visited Kanthari as part of their trip to UST Global at Trivandrum in 2012

For more information, please visit Kanthari International at