By Rajiv Tewari, Founder, MediaNetwork, based on a conversation with Amarjit (Amar) Dhull, Founder, CharityWorld.com. Detailed introduction of Amar has been shared at the end of this article.
By igniting the power of social enterprise, India can significantly transform the base of its wealth pyramid. With half the world’s wealth now in the hands of just 1% of the population, global inequality is growing. This is sad but at the same time this also indicates that there is a huge opportunity to tap into this market to lift the entire wealth pyramid. CK Prahalad & Stuart L. Hart talked about The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid; way back in 2005. Their research showed how the low-income markets present a great opportunity for the wealthy to multiply their wealth and at the same time benefit the aspiring poor. The telecom revolution in India is a case in point. Mobile phones in the hands of poor daily wage earners no longer are a surprise for the Indians. TV Antennas are visible even in the slums and there are so many two wheelers and four wheelers on the India roads that constant jams and pollution is the new normal. However, this kind of growth model needs to be balanced with concern for the environment and the citizen’s health & wellness. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiatives like Startup India, Clean India & Skill India need a large number of social entrepreneurs with a differentiated model of funding. Charity funding can be one of the sources of funding with accountability to the donors through a transparent audit system.
Government has limited resources for a large country like India
The Government of India has undertaken many good initiatives which have the power to transform this great nation but it is severely constrained due to lack of financial resources. A differentiated approach, therefore, will be critical in areas where foreign direct investment with stock exchange based returns may be hard to find and the national financial resources may fall short of what is really required to transform such a large country. However, India can do wonders by leveraging its vast pool of human resources and encouraging social enterprise. Fund raising for good causes are already happening across the world & all that is needed is good governance to facilitate the funds flow to social enterprises. Indian social entrepreneurs can benefit a lot by tapping into the global sources of funds which will not carry the huge interest burden and will not have loan repayment issues associated with commercial funding.
There are several global crowd funding sites for social entrepreneurs.
There are several global crowd funding sites for social entrepreneurs which indicate that a there are a lot of investors who are willing to help those who wish to do good work. Fundly.com is reported to be one of the well-known sites for helping the fund raisers through a step-by-step guidance procedure on how to reach the donors and raise money through funding ideas. Kickstarter.com is another crowdfunding site that sets a fund raising goal and if the raise exceeds the goal, then the social entrepreneur can keep all the money otherwise he or she gets nothing. This ensures that the social entrepreneur is given money only when the project is fully funded otherwise the project may start with a handicap and the funds may be wasted. A similar site is StartSomeGood.com.
There are a large number of sites for funding the social entrepreneurs; however we are limiting our reference to only a few examples to indicate the possibilities of global funding for social enterprises. Add to these sources, corporate donors, CSR funds & the individual donors; and the picture will become even clearer on the scope of funding. However, India needs a differentiated model that will suit India’s needs. Amar and his UKINDO team in India have done a lot of preliminary work by running schools for the urban slum kids and have created a unique model for educating the poorest of the poor in India.
Learnings from the UKINDO model for the poorest of poor in India
“It took us several years of persistent effort and learning to build a self-sustainable & scalable model for India. UKINDO schools are providing free education to children from the poorest of the poor families. For these families, providing meals two times a day to the family is a huge challenge. Quality education costs a lot of money and therefore the problem is that the poor simply can not pay for their studies. The UKINDO model is based on CSR money donated by UK Fostering, SevenArk Ltd & RoundArk Ltd, all UK based companies committed to CSR. In India, IB School Rothay has begun to contribute a part of its surplus & RoundArk India, a newly formed company based in Gurgaon is contributing by leveraging its resources” said Amar.
The objective of UKINDO India is to create 100 schools in the next 5 years though the dream is to open over 1000 schools in the long term. The UKINDO team fully realizes that leveraging of current resources will have limitations at some point of scaling up. The question therefore is how could such a large level of scaling up happen? It was realised that the answers lay in creating a collaborative platform which will have the capacity to engage with all the stakeholders of the social sector in India as well as abroad. Creation of CharityWold.com by Amar and his team in India is the first step forward in this direction.
Launch of CharityWorld.com in India
As a business owner & founder of a charity, Amar had discovered, to his surprise, that there was no single source of information for knowledge sharing and connecting with the stakeholders. He had to search innumerable web sites and meet a large number of people, yet the information was incomplete from several aspects. Many information sources turned out to be dead ends which created a big doubt about the credentials & intentions of the owners of these organizations. In India, he could not find any system of certifying the credentials of the listed organizations in various directories and several other non-government organizations with a web site presence.
As an entrepreneur and a philanthropist, Amar saw a huge opportunity in organizing this noble sector by bringing together all the stakeholders on a common platform. CharityWorld.com is an expression of Amar’s vision to enable Charities, NGOs, Governments, Corporates, Individuals and the Opinion Leaders from diverse domains to share knowledge and opportunities through a global communication platform. Though the work is still in progress, CharityWorld.com team in India has already activated the portal by connecting with several information sources & opinion leaders through its knowledge sharing sections. Over 4000 NGOs are already on board and preparatory work is on in full swing to identify the opinion leaders and organizations already doing a great job in this area. A dedicated team is also working on setting the quality parameters for certifying the organizations through a rating system. Amar has also met senior ministers and government officials who have responded very favourably to his initiative and are keen to engage with his team in India.
About Amarjit (Amar) Dhull
Amar grew up in a small remote village in the state of Haryana (India) & studied at Delhi University gaining BCom, DPE, PGDPM, LLB & MSW. As a natural athlete, he played at state and university level in Basketball, Handball, Volleyball, Swimming and Athletics.
Amar started his career in India in the HR domain. In 1994 he moved to UK where he began working as a Project Manager for Kent County Council helping to set up ‘The Parent’s Consortium’ and develop services for children with disabilities and their families.
Having successfully developed ‘The Parents Consortium’ and while continuing to support the projects full time, he set up I-B School in Rohtak near Delhi, India in 1999. The school has grown considerably over the years and currently provides education to approximately 1500 children and employment to over 100 staff. Many of this school seats are kept free to those who have limited or no access to funding towards their education. The school is managed by IB Education Society.
In 2003, having worked with children and families for a number of years, he set up the Vision Fostering Ltd (later known as Capstone Foster care). Subsequently, he also set up SevenArk Ltd, Avantus Ltd, RoundArk Ltd, Active Tutors Ltd and Vision Care Services Ltd in the UK. & RoundArk Technologies Ltd in India.
Amarjit and some of his close friends & associates mooted the idea of starting a UK based charity with global ambitions few years back. For Amar, it was never a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘when’ considering the significant effort, time and finance required. In 2013 it was decided that the time was right to focus solely on the idea of starting a charity based organization to benefit the poorest of the poor and UKINDO was born. It is now operational and providing services to a growing number of children in the UK & India. Charity World, as described above is his latest venture.