The Journey Of a Social Entrepreneur: Anand Chaturvedi
When Micheal Jackson crooned, “Heal the world, make it a better place”, little did he know how arduous a task it would turn out to be. We all want to make the world a better place. Some of us make an impact on our immediate lives and others bring monumental change in the lives of others.
This story is about Anand Chaturvedi, the founder of Avasar Foundation. He is part of the rare breed of gentlemen who continue to infuse hope in the lives of others through his foundation. Avasar is a NGO that helps young women from underprivileged backgrounds get access to quality higher education. The foundation has created a movement of empowerment. According to Anand, getting to this stage wasn’t easy. Which is also why we chose to bring the tale of Anand and Avasar Foundation to the forefront.
If you, like Anand, harbor dreams of branching out on your own and helping those in need, then this article will address several of your concerns. Anand’s story is an inspiration to anyone who wants to explore off-beaten paths or make unconventional choices.
Anand was not born with a silver spoon. Belonging to a lower-middle-class family, Anand had experienced the struggles of making ends. So when the opportunity arose, Anand took the first job that came his way right after college. In his case, it was of working for an engineering company and one he would work at for 5 years. But then something shifted in Anand’s mind.
“It (the work) was arduous and draining. In my 5th year, I saw a colleague who had worked there for 20 years. He kept doing the same thing and I felt I was looking at my own future. Had I continued, I would have been doing the same thing and nothing of significance. So one day, I got up, got ready and just like that didn’t go to work.”
After that began Anand’s entrepreneurial stint. It worked for a couple of years but then Anand decided to rejoin the corporate workforce. In 1994, Anand enrolled as a corporate trainer. It was an unconventional career choice for the times but one that allowed Anand to leverage the strength of his communication skills. Though on several occasions, Anand himself was approached with absurd questions about his job.
“I was asked what kind of dogs I train. I used to tell them I train human beings. The opportunities for training and engagement were limited.”
Despite the odds, Anand stuck to the job which would then translate into a lifelong career. In 2002, Anand experienced the curve that spiraled his career to new heights. He was appointed as National Manager at a multi-national company. Today Anand is a globetrotting training manager.
To any outsider, Anand’s tale of perseverance and hard work may seem like the stuff of fairy tales. Anand had spent years struggling to come into his own and was now enjoying the fruits of his efforts. For many people, this would be a time to put their legs up and relax but not Anand. A different kind of ambition was simmering in Anand’s mind. The germ of an idea that had been planted and he wanted it to bloom.
“Everything happens because people get opportunities. That’s what prompted me to put together Avasar. Everyone has the ability to do good work but without the right opportunity, this potential is not realized. The right opportunity can make someone’s life. I am and will always be indebted to people who gave me the opportunities to prove myself. I wanted to give this back to people who face financial constraints and have no access to university education. We can do something for them, so they don’t lose that potential.”
Thus began The Avasar Foundation. Anand began pitching the idea to colleagues and friends, who were enthusiastic and came on board. The idea of educating a girl child was something that resonated with most people. Anand’s friends were more than happy to just give him the money. But Anand went the extra mile, did his research and got the necessary documentation in place.
“My friends said we trust you, we’ll give you the money. But I thought if we are doing something then it should be a long-term sustainable initiative. There were many scholarship programs available. But then we wanted to completely change someone’s life. We hold the hand of young girls 5 years after they finish their 10th.”
Anand met colleagues who funded the initiative by paying 5 years of funds in one go. In another case, a small-time manager in one of the firms contributed 17,000 USD to the foundation. He was a man with a family and yet decided to do his bit. Such instances don’t surprise Anand.
“I believe most people carry the value of giving away. The inspiration and benefit for them lie in seeing people gaining benefits. When people understood what we wanted to do, they gave us money without even asking. The more I think of it, the more I see this as God’s plan. I am merely the facilitator.
I once saw an interview of Narayan Murthy. When someone asked him what is the meaning of money. He said the real meaning was giving it away and seeing someone smile. That stayed with us. We see this every day. We are giving away money only to see tears of joy and smiles on the faces of others. I believe in the analogy that God cannot help through chairs and desks. He helps through human beings.”
The Journey Continues
Anand’s foundation has helped several young women realize their dream. In one case, Anand cites the journey of a young woman, whose father ran a handloom machine. They lived in a small 10*12 room. She went on to become a scholar at the Foundation and dreamt of being part of a software company. Today, that very young woman works in a software company and earns enough to sustain herself and her family. On the other hand, Anand has also witnessed the struggles of young women who were forced to abandon their education and get married. But Anand believes in moving ahead with motivation.
“I believe in the starfish story. I can’t get dejected by the millions I didn’t save but the one I managed to save. In the end, we need to give hope to everyone we come across.”
With these words, Anand has inspired millions to be part of a foundation that truly makes the world of these young scholars a better place. His good deeds continue to be passed on.
If you want to know more about Anand and the foundation’s work then visit – https://www.avasar.ngo/about-us/. If you wish to make a donation then you can visit – https://www.avasar.ngo/donate-now/. Anand’s team also works with volunteers and you can volunteer to help at the foundation by reaching out to the team https://www.avasar.ngo/contact-us/
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