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  • Writer's pictureGreat Companies

Vaishnavi Srinivasan, Executive Director at Bhumi

Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Vaishnavi Srinivasan: It started off with a small yearning to do something for the nation in 2006. A bunch of youngsters volunteered to teach children at an orphanage. The experience was an eye-opener to us about the status of the education system in the country. This motivated us to start Bhumi on August 15 of the same year. We wanted socially conscious and young change makers to associate this platform with something close to everyone’s heart. ‘

"Bhumi" meaning Mother Earth in many Indian languages, what else could fit in better?

What initially began as a thought of providing children the access to quality education has now transformed into widening their spectrum of learning. Ideas from volunteers to improve our system are encouraged all the time and they have been an integral part in introducing many facets to our programmes. Yes, we primarily focus on strengthening their basics in subjects like English, Math & Science, as the children struggle their way through school every day and in most cases belong to a grade / class that’s probably way too higher for their knowledge; but, we also pay equal attention in giving them a holistic development, by emphasising the importance of identifying and nurturing their talents in sports, art, literature and other cultural activities.

Great Companies: What are the various services provided by Bhumi?

Vaishnavi Srinivasan: "Bhumi" is one of India’s largest independent youth volunteer non-profit organisations. Our volunteers work amongst orphaned and underprivileged children in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, New Delhi, Bihar and West Bengal and other parts of the country with the aim of providing children with quality supplementary education and enable them to become responsible and productive citizens of the future. The efforts of our volunteer force consisting of over 30,000 students and young professionals under the age of 30 will benefit tens and thousands of children every year. The various services include :

• Educational – Teaching Computers, English, Mathematics & Science, Fellowship, Skilling programs.

• Non-Educational – Mentoring, Talent Development

• Others – scholarships for deserving students from underprivileged communities.

Great Companies: What makes Bhumi different from hundreds of other similar service providers?

Vaishnavi Srinivasan: We have full time employees as well, and HR, Fundraising etc. are taken care of by them. Volunteers are welcome to support. But our educational programmes in shelter homes are run by volunteers. Volunteers are also the most important part of our civic initiatives. We also take pride in the fact that many of our volunteers have quit their highly lucrative jobs to take up full-time opportunities in the teaching sector –a sign of creating leaders for a better tomorrow.

Great Companies: What are the struggles and challenges you face?

Vaishnavi Srinivasan: The hurdles would primarily be managing a large pool of volunteers wanting to change society, but amidst many distractions like society itself; the challenge of establishing the organisation in the eyes of senior and experienced people, as we’re primarily voluntary and youth driven; the challenge to overcome hurdles caused by financial constraints and execute our plans that will help us dream bigger and better.

The rewards would certainly be the change we see every day: in volunteers – we eventually seek to create leaders who will go onto take up the challenge of bridging the gaps in every sector, not just education. We already have many change makers who have quit their lucrative jobs to take up full-time opportunities in the non-profit and education sectors; in children – growing in difficult backgrounds with no one to guide or mentor, they constantly seek support and encouragement to study harder and often prove their calibre to their teachers / mentors; in society – parents of our volunteers now appreciate the work extended by their children, who now set aside at least two-four hours for improving the standards of the underprivileged community.

Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for Bhumi?

Vaishnavi Srinivasan: In five years, reach out to more than 50,000 underprivileged children across the country in at least 50 cities; we are not looking to establish schools at all, only working on improving existing schools.

Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Vaishnavi Srinivasan: For any new organization that’s just starting out my advice would be to

take risks and build trust. It’s important to take risks because the greatest learning comes from trying what others may not have tried before. It’s also important to embrace failure in a positive way and ensure that all learning from such an experience is absorbed and implemented in all future efforts.

Being transparent helps build trust with all your stakeholders. In the same way, it’s important to trust your stakeholders and everyone in your ecosystem. Collaborating this way helps build a robust organization that can deliver great impact.



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