Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
I am a Chemistry graduate with a Master’s degree in Marketing Management from Mumbai University. I have been working since 1985, across sales, marketing, project management, and category development in varied industries like fragrances & flavours, office automation & direct marketing. After 25+ years of a professional career with international organisations, I have evolved towards philanthropy. My interest in philanthropy led me to explore various humanities-based online courses like ‘Giving with Purpose’, ‘How to Change the World’, and ‘Social Psychology’ offered by reputed international schools.
As Managing Trustee of Animedh Charitable Trust, I focus on the transformation of underprivileged girls and women in India. My role is to mobilize donations, enlist girls and women into various educational and vocational programs and empower them to be educated, confident and economically independent.
In my work, I gained the insight that doing the simple, little things add up to the big things in the lives of the needy girls and women, which inspires them to transform their future.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
ACT has worked relentlessly on children’s education initiatives
Especially focusing on the girl child and on Economic empowerment of women through vocational training and enabling livelihood. We have made inroads in over 15 communities in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai and 2-3 communities beyond.
Our actions benefited over 1500 children and over 1000 women to date. We have successfully supported and motivated children’s education and women’s livelihood generation. The gamut of activities and actions taken on children’s education include: fee sponsorships, remedial after school Study support, tenth and twelfth coaching, higher education fee support, Computer education, creative learning workshops, vision correction camps and follow up treatments, English speaking coaching, Nutritional breakfasts, Sponsored meals, toys and books distributions, sports and games, etc.
Activities undertaken for women include basic and advanced vocational courses on tailoring, beautician, jewellery, catering service, computer basics, soft skills training on personality development, Financial literacy, Medical and Health related expert talks and books distribution, Women’s day celebrations, Career counselling through expert visits, establishing market linkages to women for promoting their products and generating income, arranging exhibitions, etc.
Specific Projects underway are:
Project Saksham: Vocational skill development in tailoring and garment construction and economic empowerment of underprivileged women, a project which is a joint CSR initiative with Capital First Limited. To date, we have three centres (Jogeshwari W, Mahakali Caves, Vashi Village) and more than 150 women have already benefitted with skill training and livelihood generation.
Project Sakshartaa (Rural) at Dadra Nagar Haveli – after school studies
For over 300 children, 70% being girls. The mission is to help the tribal children excel in their studies and reduce the school drop- out rate in this Adivasi, rural poor population.
Proposed Project Aahaar – Catering service enterprise and earning opportunity for poor and uneducated women through cooking and linked to a twin purpose to feed hungry, marginalised children studying at BMC schools in low income areas. We wish to tap the potential to help women earn from their home and to feed hungry municipal school children thereby ensuring their attendance and education prospects. We will launch the project in 2018, once funding is raised for the same.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
Our biggest challenges are fund raising which is essential to scale up and sustain the projects’ outcomes and measuring the economic, social and psychological impact of our endeavours, which we believe are far reaching but cannot be fully quantified.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
My personal high point, in fact a proud achievement for our whole Family has been the setting up of Animedh Charitable Trust. My whole family’s philosophy is to be thankful for the abundant blessings received and Pass them forward. We pledged to ‘ACT to make a Difference’. I’m living my life true to this purpose and utilizing my fullest potential in enabling the transformation in the lives of women and children. I have gained so many friends for life and blessings of these wonderful beneficiaries. It encourages me to do more and bring more happiness to countless others who are in distress.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
My passions are dancing and running long distance. These could easily become my alternative lifelong pursuits.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My mother has been my biggest inspiration. She has been a teacher for more than 60 years, first at BMC schools in Mumbai, then at a Sanskrit College in Karnataka and more recently as a certified Yoga instructor to many including myself. Even today at 82, she is a living example of active kindness and fitness that I proudly look up to and eagerly emulate.
What does the future hold for you?
The future holds a promise of realising our vision to create an ACT University – an institution that will enable education and empowerment for a great many women and children, spread across India.