Making Social Impact Sustainable

My maternal grandfather, always believed in helping the underprivileged in whichever way possible. As a child, I saw him always buy extra fruits to give to the homeless on the way. I saw him give away new books, and stationery to public school children who could not afford them. Even though my grandparents were not too wealthy and their own children went to public schools, they made sure that a little part of their savings went into helping others. My grandfather always taught us that one should give proportional to how much one earns. It is this lesson that I carried with me when I first wrote Unwind. Although the book itself helped raise awareness about certain global issues like slavery, poverty, terrorism, racism, and other themes, I wanted this book to be able to help education in another way. As I had been involved in teaching students at the Shilatne village orphanage and I saw a need for better educational resources in Mumbai, I decided to donate proceeds of the sales from Unwind to NGO Pratham, which utilized the donations to provide more educational resources to street children in Mumbai. Although my grandfather’s lesson had stuck with me, I realized that the impact I had created was heavily based on the amount of money I donated. I immediately noted the risk of high dependence on charity for a lot of such organizations, which led to high instability of resources, and hence risk of lowering impact generated.

I looked back to my grandfather’s story and spoke to him about my concern for creating a long sustainable impact. Having established a non-profit school in Dingni village to provide primary and secondary education to children, he had been an idol for me. With all the earnings my grandparents had collected as doctors, they had invested in something that would stay longer than material wealth, while maintaining a humble living. I had learnt a new way of creating impact, which would take years to develop, but would also last much longer. This method was by creating a business or a social-impact organization that had a sustainable revenue stream, thus ensuring that the impact created was not determined by external donations. There definitely is a need and a niche for both type of organizations: charity based and sustainable businesses. However, to create a sustainable impact, one requires much more time commitment to the cause. I hope that like my grandfather, I too am able to create a sustainable business that creates a long-lasting impact in the lives of the people targeted by it.

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