Act Of Giving – Angels of a Different Stripe Flocking to Charity Startup

A few poster boys of Indian startups tread the philanthropic road using personal resources, time and grit that helped them build their businesses
After flirting with success early in life, a few poster boys of Indian startups have taken to employing their tools in ventures they won’t get a penny from.Naveen Tewari, founder of InMobi, his former chief revenue officer Atul Satija, Phanindra Sama of redBus, and Satyen Kothari, founder of Citrus Pay, among others, are paving philanthropic paths for themselves using personal resources, time and the same grit that had helped them build their disruptive businesses.

Tewari, 37, got together 100 alumni from his alma mater Harvard Business School ten years ago and mobilised about . 32 lakh to impart education ` in a village near Mathura. Today, the village has three schools, proper roads and electricity.

While philanthropy is ingrained in Indian society, as an entrepreneurial culture it has been limited mostly to a few big boys such as Wipro’s Azim Premji and HCL founder Shiv Nadar.Among startups, with founders and key employees making large sums early, a focused, solutionbased approach to philanthropy is becoming more commonplace. “For me, whether I have money or not, it is far more important hat there is an intent behind a cause that’s pure and can change he lives of certain people,“ said Tewari. “If that’s there, then you will be able to get all the resources re quired.“

Tewari’s colleague Atul Satija, 39, quit InMobi in April to launch a non-profit organisation, Nudge Foundation, sinking . 1.27 crore in ` $200,000) of his personal money o help upskill people.

“Poverty alleviation is close to my heart. In my 20s, I decided I would get into social side at 60.By early 30s things were going okay in my career and I thought I could do it in my 40s,“ said Satija, who previously was the head of wireless business for Japan and Asia-Pacific at Google.“Longevity was important for me. I don’t want to have to come back to the corporate side.“

Nudge will work with illiterate and unskilled people and help them get jobs. “We want to take them out of the cycle they grew up in and make them semiliterate, skilled with a majority of focus being on life skills,“ Satija said.

For Sama, 34, running bus ticketing firm redBus was a full-time job that left him with no mental bandwidth for much else. After selling it to Ibibo Group in 2013 for about ` . 800 crore, he teamed up with Raju Reddy , former board member at redBus, to replicate the Sandbox model adopted by Hubli’s Deshpande Foundation, in their home-town Nizamabad in Telangana. The model brings principles of entrepreneurship to social causes, thereby fostering innovation.

“I had no mindshare on the topic of social impact and I wanted that ­ it makes you a balanced human being,“ said Sama, unwilling to disclose personal resources he’s parted with. The Nizamabad Sandbox has implemented 200 projects in the past year, each with about 20 people involved, translating to over 2,000 changemakers and two semi-companies.

For those like Kothari, 42, of Citrus Pay , still wired into their ventures full-time, the desire to give back is no less.

The emergence of peer-to-peer lending platforms such as Milaap and Kivah has created new credible avenues for the socially sensitive. Kothari has been active on Milaap since February . 50,000 so last year, and lent about ` far. “There is pride with this form of lending -it’s not a handout for borrowers who feel they have to work hard towards paying it back,“ he said. “For lenders like me it creates a continuous exponential cycle of goodness because after 6-12 months I get the money back, which can be used to give out another loan.“

So enthused was Kothari by this, he drove Citrus to partner with Milaap to build the Citrus Cash app that allows people to lend small amounts everyday .He’s personally committed to give 200 days of loans continuously through the app, and has touched 140 days so far.

Education is his pet cause, as Kothari himself has been a beneficiary . Many (including primary schools teachers) gave him grants and loans to pursue a computer science degree at Stanford.“It’s a question of strangers helping strangers and that’s the big motivating factor,“ he said.

source: The Economic Times


Neeraj; an entrepreneur & a visionary in the field of Railway, Defense & Automobiles, is a graduate in commerce and a Harvard Business School Alumni. He’s an expert in govt. liasoning & contracting and has an exceptional network & connections at both local as well as global level. He’s an expert in Market Strategy & Planning and has served number of overseas companies as an advisor/consultant. He takes a profound interest in upcoming startups & is very receptive towards ground-breaking ideas & innovations. He likes to brainstorm those ideas and if the values & philosophies matches; he is even ready to invest his resources, serve as a mentor or act as an incubator to futuristic businesses.

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