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'We Reach Out To Marginalised Communities In Need Of Support'

Sweta Rawat spoke to BW Businessworld about the organisation, goals and on-going/upcoming campaigns in rural areas.

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Do we have enough facilities in our villages such as hospitals, schools, sanitation, clean water etc? No, but we have a foundation that is trying to improve the situation in villages. The Hans Foundation (THF), a charitable trust fund that provides endowments to not-for-profit organisations in India. In the last five years, it committed more than Rs 300 crore to support over 151 organisations across 25 states and union territories, with 406 ongoing projects.

The man behind this success story is Manoj Bhargava, an NRI entrepreneur and philanthropist, who is the principal donor and co-founder of foundation. He dosn't leave in India, however, he is committed Rs 500 crore of his personal wealth to Hand Foundation to develop villages in Uttarakhand. And have a secure financial endowment for future as well.

Manoj Bhargava most known as founder and CEO of 5-hour Energy, a 2-ounce energy shot. He signed the Giving Pledge in 2012, and has committed over 90 per cent of his wealth to charitable causes. He frequently visits India to provide his input to building The Hans Foundation's activities.

Funding is an important pillar of any organisation be it profit making firm or non-for-profit organisation. However, good governance of the funds plays a significant role in building up the firm's role play. Each and every firm has an important pillar of the firm, The Hans Foundation has Sweta Rawat (Chairman) as a key element.

Rawat's family along with Manoj Bhargava, founded The Hans Foundation in 2009. She has played a key role in defining the goals and direction of the organisation. Since its conception, The Hans Foundation, has funded social initiatives and projects in areas of healthcare, women empowerment, livelihood, disability, and education across India.

Chairperson of The Hans Foundation has emphasised the importance of enhancing agriculture in impoverished communities, as it is a key element in both health as well as income generation. Rawat stresses disability projects as a key part of The Hans Foundation’s efforts. Having taken on a highly diversified portfolio of projects, Rawat has ensured that The Hans Foundation reaches out to all marginalised communities in need of support.

Rawat spoke to BW Businessworld about the organisation, goals and on-going/upcoming campaigns in rural areas.

1. How was The Hans Foundation started and why?
The Hans Foundation was started in 2009. Initially it was a funding agency set up to assist and give grants to organisations working in the areas of education, disability and healthcare.

2. How does the organisation work?
We work with over 150 non-profit organisations across India. Requests for proposals are sent out that answer the development needs of a specific region or community. We typically ask an organization to send us their proposal with details about what they aim to achieve, the number of beneficiaries, a detailed plan, and a budget. After we review the proposal, we send somebody from our team to do some ground level research on the proposed project and the integrity of the partner. If the project looks good, we grant some funds and carefully monitor the project through its completion.

We primarily finance small grass-roots organizations that operate directly in the communities that they serve. This ensures that the funds directly impact the people in need.

Along with the local organizations, we also support larger organizations that have a greater outreach. With these organizations, we aim to develop solutions that are replicable across the country.

3. What are the goals of The Hans Foundation and how is the organization and the partners working to achieve them?
The Foundation's vision is to provide quality access to services in healthcare, education and disability, to all people in the country irrespective of gender, class and caste. We provide services to people who for social and geographical reasons, cannot avail of good healthcare, education or services for PWDs. We also fund advocacy projects to bring awareness to issues that affect people with disability. We have three hospitals in Uttarakhand that give quality medical care to the poor of the state and mobile medical services in 10 states.

Our experience with our partners has taught us a lot about social development throughout the country. We are actively exploring new and unique projects that will make a large impact in the rural parts of India.

The Hans Foundations works hard to identify partner organisations who want the best for the people they serve. Together with our partners, we have enhanced countless lives.

4. Last year, you had announced 'Uttarakhand 2020' - Rs 500 crore village development project, please share the details of the campaign and the progress.
At our five year anniversary event, we announced UK 2020, a comprehensive state development plan for Uttarakhand. We have funded a research study to review the needs of the state. so far around 50 crores have been spent on a combination of grants to partner organisations, scholarships to students, and health aid and pension provisions to the poor and destitute. Another interesting project we're working on is a permaculture study of the local environment, the results of which will attempt to replenish the natural resource depletion that has been a problem in the hills.

5. Any other on-going and upcoming campaigns. How will people benefit from these campaigns?
We are also renewing our focus in the disability area. THF has partnered AIF and Coca Cola for VEER II, an initiative to employ 2000 PWDs. In addition we are working with the MoSJE to improve existing facilities and services for PWDs. We are also hosting a SYNERGY Workshop in Dehra Dun to bring together all funding agencies working in the state oF Uttarakhand so we can discuss our projects and share our views and findings with the State Govt so we can all work together towards a common goal. Our Cochlear Implant Program is the largest in the country and has changed the lives of over 350 children. We are also investing in a research space to work on promoting rights based approach in the disability landscape.

6. What are some ways that individuals can be a part of the organization as a volunteer?
We welcome volunteers to assist in whatever way they can. The main task is to alert people of the THF commitment and vision. People can also work with our partners that are spread all over the country. Spreading awareness and advocacy for our basic human rights is every individual's responsibility.

7. Any initiative that is close to your heart?
I am very proud of our disability work. We recently met with our partners in this area and came up with wonderful ideas to change the lives of so many people, whether with vision and hearing impairment, locomotor disability and intellectual/psycho-social disabilities.