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BW Woman: The X Factor

The social sector has long been seen as existing only for those who are rejected, abused or exploited by society for one reason or another

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I quit advertising three years ago to set up a not-for-profit communication firm working exclusively for the social and development sector. I knew it would be a sea change for me and expected to encounter a way of living and a style of working that would turn my world upside down. I did. When you replace the cold hard factual and transactional world of commercial exchanges based on customer value, with the compassionate cause-driven space of philanthropic benevolence and unselfish empowerment, you come to understand the true meaning of the term “paying it forward”.

My biggest and most humbling learning has been that compassion can be as efficient and effective as commerce. Perhaps more so. Working with some of the most well-run NGO’s across all manner of causes from sports to child abuse, water issues to female empowerment, wildlife protection to rural livelihoods, nutrition to mental disability, I am privileged to interact now with more enlightened minds, talented bodies and noble spirits than in all my years in advertising. And the most gratifying fact of all. The women. Everywhere, in every cause, in every NGO, the women. Founders, drivers, leaders, volunteers, workers. Sixty-five per cent of the boards of the 23 NGOs we have worked with so far comprise women. Seven of the CEOs are women, exceptionally gifted ladies who have given up well-paying jobs in large MNCs to expand from nurturing their families to society at large. There is an absence of cutthroat competition and professional envy, a sincerity of intent and a generosity of character that governs every aspect of their internal and external relationships. The genuine desire to make the world a better place, to encourage and empower all those they come in contact with, whether beneficiaries or volunteers or partners, gives me great hope for the future of philanthropic activities in this country.

I have also met a few good and great men who give freely of their time and money to bring these women on board, mentoring and equipping them with the right skills and technology to help transform our social sector from an amorphous mass of fake NGOs to a thriving ecosystem that could well play a much larger role in uplifting our society and our economy than we currently give it credit for.

The social sector has long been seen as existing only for those who are rejected, abused or exploited by society for one reason or another. Well, I can see a pool of extremely capable women and men who are determined to change this — who are brave enough to transform these very ‘rejects’ into inspired, innovative and courageous leaders of tomorrow.

Another interesting observation I must share is about the large proportion of women and girl children who are direct beneficiaries of social sector activities. Our team of six women and one man have often returned from immersive field trips in villages, slums and forests, stunned by the self-confidence and ambition exhibited by these so-called underprivileged women and children. They come back to our little office in Mumbai energised and inspired by the very people they are supposed to energise and inspire.

That indeed is the true power of compassion and womanhood. A power that knows how to give and receive in equal measure, to create real growth and wealth for everyone. One that I hope will find its way into the corporate sector too as its interaction with the social sector gets more entwined.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Lynn De Souza

The author is a founder of Social Access Communications

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