“They say the most uplifting of human endeavors are those that bring a smile on a person’s face and a hope in the heart. At Sampark Foundation we are a group of believers who have come together for a cause bigger than singular identities; a cause called ‘unleashing a million smiles’.
While I was working on social responsibility programs at HCL, I saw the potential of encouraging, and enabling the disadvantaged youth to lead the change which they deserved; and which only they can bring about. Having led a large scale corporate transformation involving 100,000 employees, the question I asked myself therefore was – can we similarly ignite the potential of the million youth in our country and can they in turn be the transformers who impact the billion Indians? The Sampark Foundation was born in 2004 with hope as an answer to this question and an optimistic resolve to create these catalysts. The question we asked ourselves was what are the four areas most relevant for the next generation which would impact their lives in the next decade? Our research pointed the arrow to these four:
Livelihood enhancement to improve agricultural and livestock productivity along with formation of women groups to drive new business opportunity that is labor intensive. Through a series of interventions in this area we hope to increase per family earning by 30% in three years.
Education effectiveness through holistic adoption of large number of schools and driving change through intervention in curriculum, learning outcome assessment, headmaster and teacher training etc. By making this a mega project we hope to break the barrier of executing change at a large scale.
Climate sustainability by focusing on the most precious natural resource – water. Our interventions in this area cover a wide expanse from water availability and distribution through social awareness on consumption to stakeholder alignment for better utilization and community democratization for higher ownership of end results.
Entrepreneurship encouragement to build scalable social organizations that move away from tactical projects to sustainable business models through mentorship and financial support. Over the years we have sought to weave the guiding beliefs and structure of our journey around four execution principals that would drive higher measurable and sustainable impact for each dollar of spend:
Frugal innovation – so that we can bring about transformation which is sustainable at a substantially lower cost than what we have seen in the west.
Scalable Programs – at a level which addresses large number of people so that they get adequate attention from all stakeholders. With attention individuals and teams work harder for success, because failure is visible.
Transformation through innovative experiments – I have always believed that any large scale transformation is a “thinking journey” that is constantly evolving, with new ideas and initiatives taking shape along the way. I also believe that it takes only a few innovative experiments, catalyst ideas, a few droplets, to create a fundamental change.
Partnerships – the core ethos of Sampark is around the spirit of partnership. We believe that it takes a village to build a man and therefore we need to closely partner with the Government and other stakeholders to get to where we want to reach and make them the heroes.
Through our series of experimentations and a philosophy of partnership we have seen some early success. We have also seen many failures and have learnt from them. But our resolve to carry on is bigger than both. It is not clear to us if we would achieve all our aspirations. However even if we fail, we know we did try hard. If you are reading this letter I would like you to think whether you are trying too. If there are enough of us who collectively try hard enough, the needle will move, the change will happen, the youth will be empowered, they will take charge and the rest will be history”.