Parinaam’s year began on a tragic note. We lost the heart and soul of our organisation. Elaine Ghosh not only founded Parinaam but she breathed into it her love for the under- privileged and her commitment to improving their lives. Her aim was to bring some light into the lives of the poor, urban women in Bangalore and around the country and their families; to give them a sense of dignity through education and health care; teach them the joy of undertaking the responsibility of properly utilising the loans they took and to give their children an opportunity to live a better life by giving them the opportunity of both primary and higher education.
Her client base were the women who qualified for micro-finance loans from Ujjivan Financial Services Pvt. Ltd. However, merely serving them did not satisfy her. She reached out to the Urban
Ultra-Poor, women who were too poor to even qualify for a micro- finance loan, and through education and providing employment opportunities, brought them up to a level where they could qualify for a micro-finance loan and start living a purposeful life. She never sought rewards or recognition but got them in plenty because of the innovative and effective programs that she implemented through Parinaam.
Her loss to us would have been fatal had it not been for her foresight in bringing in her daughter Mallika into the Parinaam organisation and training her in every aspect of the organisations functioning. Mallika was the Chief Operating Officer of Parinaam when Elaine passed away. Though her stepping into her mother's shoes must have been traumatic, emotionally and difficult, she has shouldered the responsibilities of the Chief Executive Officer very ably and is doing a fine job, as the results do show.
The three main programs of Parinaam - the Urban Ultra-Poor, Diksha or Financial Literacy and the Children's Education programs not only continue but are growing from strength to strength.
On the 10th December 2013, Parinaam was named the Asia-Pacific winner for the 2013 Financial Times and Citi Ingenuity Awards. The Award was given for our Urban Ultra-Poor program and highlights Urban Ideas in Action. It was developed to recognise leaders, teams, organisations and community groups who have developed innovative solutions to urban challenges that benefit cities, citizens and urban communities. We are grateful to the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp and Mr. Ravindra Bahl for their continuing support to keep this program going. During the coming year we will be extending it to four new communities.
The Citi Foundation; the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Ujjivan Financial Services have enabled us to reach out to an ever increasing number of women in our Diksha Financial Literacy program. Though we started the first Diksha program less than 2 years ago, in August 2012, as of March, 2014 we have successfully enrolled over 130,000 Ujjivan customers in the Program, of which 81% have completed the entire program and been certified as Rupee Rani's. We have opened bank accounts for 45,157 customers. Our aim is to cover the one million customers of Ujjivan in the next few years and also reach out beyond Ujjivan's customer base. We are already in talks with various organizations that would like to conduct Diksha across their beneficiary base. In partnership with the Citi Foundation we hope to carry out a broad based study on the impact of financial literacy on the change in financial behaviour of low income beneficiaries.
We are piloting a unique 'Matched Savings Incentive Program' which integrates financial planning for education into the Diksha training, whereby women set a savings goal and save a fixed amount each week towards payment for their children's Higher Education. Those women who adhere to their savings plan demonstrating positive financial behaviour, will be incentivized by Parinaam with a scholarship amount to help their children pursue Higher Education. Thanks to the generosity of Citi Foundation, Sequoia Capital and many generous individual donors we will be able to help 200 beneficiaries in the coming financial year.
96 children enrolled in the Academic Adoption Program have successfully been sponsored by kind hearted individuals and we have shortlisted 100 new children to be enrolled into good schools for the new Academic Year.
Elaine had always felt a great compassion for 'Sex Workers' and had often spoken about wanting to help either them or their children. Mallika has taken on this challenge and has met with several organizations regarding an education program designed for Sex Workers. They have shown a great interest in giving monetary aid for the education of the Sex Workers children as well as conducting financial literacy for the women. We hope to take up this work very shortly.
The Parinaam team needs special mention for their tireless and effective work in furthering our programs and putting life into Elaine's dreams and desires. While mother and daughter had several disagreements about how to take Parinaam forward, I am sure that Elaine must be smiling at the manner in which her girl is working towards fulfilling her dreams.
Sarosh J. Ghandy
Chairman, Parinaam Foundation July 10, 2014