It all began with an article about 42 per cent of Indian children being malnourished, which was noticed and read by a group of young graduates from the Wharton Business School. The very thought that a huge percentage of the country’s potential future doctors, engineers, sportsmen or journalists, suffer from lack of nutrition was alarming enough for them to think of doing something about it. That’s how Indian Impact was conceived by 22-year-old Wharton Business School alumni Ridhima Parvathaneni and her friends, which led to leading industrialist Ratan Tata visiting Hyderabad.
President of the initiative Ridhima shares, “Indian Impact is an attempt to reduce malnutrition in the country. It bridges a crucial gap between those who want to give and those in need. It’s very simple — if you type the name of your locality on our website, you will get the names of anganwadi centres in your area along with contact numbers. You will also find a list of essentials that the centres need. Simple things that will cost you probably only RS 1,000 could change lives.”
Ridhima points out that crores of rupees coming from the government actually do not make it to those in need. “The supply chain is where the problem lies. That coupled with inefficiency in the system is what’s preventing funds from reaching beneficiaries,” she says.
The initiative managed to pique the interest of Ratan Tata, who has decided to lend his support to it. “Ratan Tata is focusing on certain things since his retirement, and malnutrition is one of them. Once we got together and presented our concept to him, he felt very strongly for the cause,” Ridhima shares, adding, “He probably thinks that young Indians like us, who want to do something for society, need to be encouraged. I have no words to express my gratitude to him.”
Nidhi Balasubramaniam, vice-president — marketing, agrees that getting big names to support your cause adds credibility. She says, “If we approach people saying that we are students with an idea, they may think that we are just some enthusiastic kids. But ever since we’ve had the support of G.M. Rao and Ratan Tata, it has helped us get our message across.”
Pointing out the role of citizens, she adds, “We can’t leave everything to the government. Though the anganwadi centres are run by the government, it is also the responsibility of citizens to add on and help them grow. Citizens’ involvement is very crucial.”
Apart from their roles at Indian Impact, the youngsters have their respective jobs as well. Ridhima helps her family business Seaways by taking care of International Business Development, while Nidhi works as a User Operations Specialist at Facebook. The strategic team also includes Shylaen Keshwani, who’s completing his Masters from Wharton Business School in the US. “We are very passionate about this, so we make sure to catch up at the end of the day and list out what needs to be done. Most of our discussions take place over the phone or online,” Nidhi shares.
The initiative is also banking on the corporate sector for support. “Corporates can donate a good amount of money, which can help the anganwadi centres immensely,” says Ridhima, adding, “One way of funding is in terms of limited partnership with brands. For example, we can have limited collections of merchandise named after Indian Impact. Partnerships like this could be a CSR initiative for the brand, as well as help us with funds. At the same time, people will have a good reason to buy the merchandise. Of course, it’s just an idea for now.”
Two years from now, the team would like to have national appeal and a presence in every state. “It’s just a few days old and I’ve been receiving around 100 emails every day, from people who want to join us, congratulate us, and donate towards the cause. Everybody is so happy that young people like us are doing something.”
On a parting note, Ridhima says, “Young people these days spend so much time on Facebook. All I am saying is, if you have the time then put it good use.”...