JAMADI-AWWAL / JAMADI THANI
Volume 17-06 No : 210
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The new improved philanthropy, conceived by Muslim entrepreneurs wishing to give more than mere money, provides not only funding, but also hands-on-support to the causes they espouse
By M. H. Lakdawala
Corporate altruism, which used to consist of hastily scribbled cheques to help mal-nourished children or alleviate suffering in drought-affected areas, is undergoing a facelift. Enter venture philanthropy.
Islamic Voice looks at how the new age compassionate entrepreneurs fit the iron fist of venture capital into the velvet glove of philanthropy. This new improved philanthropy, conceived by entrepreneurs wishing to give more than mere money provides not only funding, but also hands-on-support to the causes they espouse.
It is not about handing out a cheque and proclaiming financial support. That would be the easiest thing to do, points out Fatima Allana, wife of late Hussain Allana of Allana Group. "We accord corporate social responsibility as much importance as our business projects. We want to actively contribute to the social and economic development of the communities in which we operate. In doing so, we want to build a better, sustainable way of life for the weaker sections of society and raise the human development index of our nation".
Unlike the Rockefellers and Carnegies of a bygone age, today's high-tech philanthropists are more actively involved than traditional donors. Corporates are shedding their earlier aloof attitude and taking a more hard-nosed approach. They are in many ways like venture capitalists because they provide not only money, but also hands-on involvement in the non-profit groups they support. Much like venture capitalists, the new philanthropists actively finance technology and very often, staff.
Nafisa Khorakiwala, wife of Habil Khorakiwala, CMD, Wockhardt Ltd, is Trustee of WHARF (Wockhardt-HMI HIV/AIDS Education & Research Foundation), a non-profit organisation and Harvard Medical International (HMI) of the US. "I wanted Wockhardt to make a difference to the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS," says Ms Khorakiwala on the choice of setting up WHARF.
"A country-wide survey revealed the absence of an institution committed to training and upgrading of skills of healthcare workers. This urged us to form a non-profit organisation dedicated to train and provide the latest scientific knowledge on HIV/AIDS. We teamed up with HMI, which has enormous experience in this field to establish WHARF.
It is dedicated to training and upgrading the skills of primary care givers about the prevention, diagnosis and management of HIV/AIDS." Muslim corporate houses and entrepreneurs are now getting more organised and are appointing professionals such as Masters in Social Work (MS.W), Human Resource experts and Psychologists to look after their welfare activities.
Recently one of the largest exporters of Supari, appointed two MS.W and HR experts to take care of their school adoption programme in Mumbai. "Instead of donating money for social and welfare activities as in the past now, we concentrate on projects with long term planning and potential," said the Managing Director of the export house on the condition of anonymity.
More and more entrepreneurs are now actively participating in the welfare activities. Ms Khorakiwala's herself looks after many of the Wockhardt social and welfare projects. Her responsibilities include directing and steering the project by way of long-term, medium and short-term planning. She helps generate resources and funds for the organisation and also works towards facilitating global and national level tie-ups. "Wockhardt has been putting in funds regularly for the NGO," she adds. Wockhardt's WHARF has a 20-member faculty team from HMI and hospitals in Mumbai and Ms Khorakiwala is involved in the overall operations of WHARF and also provides inputs and keeps herself updated on day-to-day activities. Since its first training programme in December 2002 that trained up to 40 care-providers, WHARF has trained over 1,500 care providers.
No doubt, a slew of organisations are doing a good job in the social field, but many of them tend to focus too much on their organisational objectives and spend a huge large percentage of budget just to maintain the infrastructure. This makes it more necessary for the donors to take active interest in the implementation aspect of the social projects. Late Hussain Allana was amongst the first to start the trend among the Muslim corporate houses. He started devoting time to the welfare projects financed by the Allana group. Today, because of his devotion and contribution, Pune city has a huge Azam Educational Complex where professional courses such as BDS and Hotel management are conducted.
Fatima Allana carrying on the unfinished agenda of Hussain Allana is devoting her maximum time as chairperson of the Anjuman Khairul Islam, which manages a slew of educational institutes. She says that her late husband was not very happy by just financing the projects as the quality of work many a times was sub-standard. "Now we have changed our strategy. We do not sanction the projects as submitted to us. We consult our experts and as suggested by them, we ask changes to be made and demand representation in the body managing the project so that we maintain check and balance," she said. The Noorani foundation managed by the Zodiac group also has full-time professionals to take care of their welfare activities. M.Y. Noorani, MD of the Zodiac group himself scrutinises every submission and sanctions it after getting approval from his team of professionals. "We insist on having a say in the management of the welfare project funded by our company and keep a close tab whether the activities are as promised", said a representative of the Noorani foundation. The current trend of Muslim entrepreneurs taking personal interest in the welfare projects is appreciable. It is always easy to donate money. But really difficult for the entrepreneurs to take time from their busy schedule to take active interest in the welfare projects.
The first step the corporates should do is to check on the cause/issue to support, check the NGO, to support in terms of credibility as well as in terms of capacity to take on the project of desired size. Then comes obviously the financial support. Add to it, non-financial giving and volunteering. Then check in terms of monitoring, evaluation and impact analysis.
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