“WE DON’T JUST WRITE CHEQUES, WE BRING EX­PER­TISE”

India Today - - GOOD NEWS - RAVI VENKATESAN, 54 Co-Founder and Chair­man, So­cial Ven­ture Part­ners In­dia, —As told to M.G. Arun

Ravi Venkatesan found many like-minded peo­ple in his city who wanted to make a dif­fer­ence but did not know how to. Ergo, his ven­ture phi­lan­thropy ini­tia­tive in 2013.

Con­cerned about how dys­func­tional our so­ci­ety was be­com­ing, I de­cided that we get the so­ci­ety we de­serve. In­flu­enced by Di­pankar Gupta’s book, Democ­racy: The Rev­o­lu­tion from Above, I re­alised the way for­ward is for an ‘en­light­ened elite’ to mo­bilise, put so­ci­etal in­ter­est above self-in­ter­est and work to­wards cre­at­ing in­sti­tu­tions in part­ner­ship with gov­ern­ment, busi­ness and civil so­ci­ety. The So­cial Ven­ture Part­ners (SVP) model de­manded a change in the way we In­di­ans have ap­proached phi­lan­thropy. It is not just about giv­ing money to a char­ity or a tem­ple but about de­cid­ing which causes to sup­port, to make a dif­fer­ence. Our ob­jec­tive is to ‘scale ex­cel­lence’—find good or­gan­i­sa­tions in the liveli­hood sec­tor and help them scale. We took a model of ‘ven­ture phi­lan­thropy’ de­vel­oped in Seat­tle and brought it to In­dia. We select lo­cal NGOs or so­cial en­ter­prises cre­at­ing jobs or im­prov­ing in­comes and then use the ex­per­tise, net­works and our part­ners’ gen­eros­ity to help these or­gan­i­sa­tions scale their im­pact. Our Pune chap­ter started work­ing with the Ja­gruti Sanstha which mo­bilises women from poor com­mu­ni­ties, trains them as nurs­ing aides and places them in hos­pi­tals. Ja­gruti had been plac­ing 25 nurs­ing aides each year; in the first year, we helped them dou­ble the num­ber. This year, they’ll place 500 and the next, 1,000. The process of en­gag­ing with such or­gan­i­sa­tions changes us, we be­come more en­gaged cit­i­zens. It’s a win-win.”

NILOTPAL BARUAH

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