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The Genesis of an Idea
After a few years of working in a corporate sales job, I was yearning to do something more meaningful with my life. One rainy day, while driving from Fergusson college road to Hinjewadi for a sales consignment I noticed a peculiar site: a little boy clad in a small pair of shorts would stand near the exhaust of vehicles that stopped at red traffic light in the heavy rains. While it is common to see people beg on traffic signals, this boy was not begging, he was quietly standing near the exhaust of vehicles for some warmth for fleeting few minutes! This incident made me wonder the extent of compromise people make in their lives even for basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter. The memory of this scene persisted with me for a while as if nudging me to take some action. I began setting aside two hours per week towards a good cause for the community. This decision took me to orphanages, old age homes, cancer hospitals; and to various activities involving tree planting, water conservation, cleaning up hills and roads. Volunteering for such ventures gave me some exposure yet it left me thinking that there is lot more to social sector that volunteering alone cannot offer. It eventually inspired me to get into social work more whole heartedly and led to the establishment of a charitable trust.
Founding of Opash
Running a charitable trust for 6 years gave me a lot of hands-on experience and exposure to well-known non-government organizations (NGOs), trusts, CSR (Corporate social responsibility) projects and government projects. It gave me an opportunity to interact closely with pioneers and stalwarts in the social field. It enabled me to look at problem solving from various perspectives: gave me a 360 degree viewpoint on several social issues.
I realized that a lot of people wanted to help out with community and social services, but were wary of it because it did not assure a salary. I witnessed a lot of well- intentioned projects not seeing completion due to lack of funds and manpower. In order to bridge the gap in the way the social projects were being done and to bring in quality and accountability to social work, Opash was founded in June 2015 as a self -reliant socio-entrepreneurial start –up.
What does Opash do?
Opash aims to enable sustainable social changes by empowering the youth to create an inclusively growing society and assist NGOs, CSR and government projects by providing them with the expertise of strategy, decision making and research for the implementation of such projects.
India has the largest youth population in the world. The world looks up to the youth as drivers of change and as a pool of talent. Opash started conducting study tours for students to model villages like Hiware Bazar, Anandwan and social projects like water conservation for students with the hope that such tours may provide the youth with exposure and access to the real issues facing India. The hope is that these tours serve as eye opening experiences for them and initiate them to think.
Although Companies Act 2013 has made it mandatory for corporates to set aside some funds for social upliftment, many companies especially small and mid- sized corporates do not have the resources and systems in place to actually implement such projects. Opash helps companies identify areas where their corporate funds can be used, plan their expenditure and do proper follow ups so that they can achieve meaningful and sustainable end point for CSR projects.
A similar problem exists with Non-government organizations (NGOs). Many NGOs are very well meaning but are unable to get the impact compared to the time and energy spent by them. They need guidance on identifying what is lacking in their core strategy, causes of delays, reason for not being able to create a lasting results, etc. Opash assists them to systematically implement a project by helping them strategize, conduct appropriate surveys, case studies, etc and helps them reach a defined end goal. Often times, government projects suffer from lack of manpower to see through many rural development projects. Opash uses their expertise of planning, manpower and strategizing to create scalable solutions for such government projects.
Important milestones reached so far
Team building: We take pride in having attracted and maintained a wonderful team of fifteen dedicated employees over three years. It is rare to have people of varied background sharing the same enthusiasm for a common goal and we feel blessed to have fostered such a team. We are also fortunate to have the likes of Seemantini Khot, Mr. Vivek Velankar, Dr. C N Rawal and many other trailblazers in our advisory team whose association and valuable guidance has been available right from my volunteering days and has shaped some our core beliefs.
Self- reliance: As we come close to completing three years of social entrepreneurship, we have managed to achieve economic sustainability which has taken us closer to our goal of self- reliance.
I hope that Opash keeps growing organically and is able to give meaningful endpoints to various social ventures at individual and organizational level.
Chairman & Managing Director