A Chronicle of Enlightened Citizenship Movement in the State Bank of India

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Entrepreneurs with a cause taste success


Two success stories shared by social entrepreneurs at the first Indian Philanthrophy Forum organized by Dasra in Mumbai last week

Vocations for the hearing impaired
It might sound a tad unambitious when a young MBA from Oxford starts a courier service with one delivery boy and savings of Rs.10,000. But Dhruv Lakra's Mirakle Couriers claims to be the only courier company in the world that employs the hearing impaired. With a staff of 55 employees, the company offers both domestic and international services.
   The tsunami in 2004 changed Lakra's life. He left his cushy job as an investment banker to help a tsunami-affected fisherman community in Nagapatnam for five months. "I realised that this is what I wanted to do with my life," says the 28-year-old, who has worked with several NGOs.
   In 2008, Lakra founded Mirakle Couriers as he wanted to offer the deaf community a "better vocations than candle making." He says, "I wanted to give them regular employment which uses their disability to their advantage."
   With special training sessions, Lakra ensures his boys' deliver efficiently while his back office is handled by hearing impaired women. They receive the minimum wage and have their own bank accounts. With plenty of bulk orders coming their way, Lakra hopes to break even by the end of this year." I treat it like any other business," he says.

On a mission
Safeena Husain (39) has traveled to the Himalayas, the Amazon and Africa to reduce poverty through education. This London School of Economics graduate "didn't want to be a globetrotting executive". So she became a globetrotting social worker. "While working for a US-based NGO, I found that after being educated, 40 per cent of women were more likely to immunise their children, reduce HIV, increase national income and fight poverty," says Husain.
   In 2005, she started the Foundation to Educate Girls Globally (FEGG), an NGO that aims to bring about large-scale transformation in girls' education.
   Her pilot project of reforming 500 government schools in Rajasthan has resulted in 99.5 per cent enrollment of girls in Pali, one of the state's most backward districts, as also an 85 per cent attendance of girls per class. She mobilises communities to be accountable for their schools by forming school managing committee run by the locals. "We also help village elders motivate parents to educate their girls," says Husain. Teachers are trained to introduce gender-sensitised study techniques.
   Husain plans to replicate the model in 2,500 of Rajasthan's schools over the next three years with government and private funding. Recently, she was invited by NATO to introduce the model in Afganistan as a means to counter terrorism.

courtesy: Tasneem Nashrulla / Hindustan Times

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