Seva Sahayog aims at engaging socially conscious corporate, groups and individuals, with NGOs of matching interests, Alekh Angre reports
India has several grassroots NGOs in remote tribal areas, small towns as well as urban centres. Many earnest ones are born out of their founders’ passion and commitment but face problems like lack of administrative expertise, paucity of funds and inability to access donors. On the other hand, donors have little information on NGOs and are unable to distinguish between genuine NGOs and those set up with dubious objectives.
Seva Sahayog Foundation (SSF), itself an NGO, has been started to bridge this gap between donors/volunteers and NGOs (especially the smaller ones) and to connect the two.
SSF was registered in August 2009 under Section 25 B of the Companies Act by Sanjay Hegde, former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Devendra Dewasthale, an industrialist, along with their friends. “All of us had worked with NGOs. We knew the problems faced by smaller NGOs, like lack of finance, skilled manpower, or maintaining accounts. Most donors are city-based and NGOs lack the experience to approach them,” says Kishore Moghe, group head of SSF.
Currently based in Mumbai and Pune, SSF is largely operated by volunteers. Till date, about 500 volunteers, from the IT sector, accounting, medicine, engineering, advocacy, etc, are registered. “With volunteers from diverse fields, we marry the NGO’s need and volunteer’s expertise. For instance, a volunteer, who is an accountant, will guide NGOs in accounting and help in other areas of finance,” he says.
SSF focuses on capacity building of NGOs. Before commencing on a project, SSF visits the organisation for necessary inspection like scrutinising legal and registration documents. It also analyses the work that the NGO has done, its accounts, and whether they are working for the poor. NGOs are then associated with SSF and, based on their needs, donors and CSR (corporate social responsibility) cells are approached for funding. So far, around 45 NGOs have benefited from the efforts of SSF.
For corporates, SSF helps in formulating CSR policy, planning & implementation of CSR initiatives, identifying appropriate NGOs and monitors funding. For NGOs, it provides funds and other resources, documentation, strategic planning, drafting proposal, etc.
SSF has been running a school-kit programme since inception. It distributes kits, comprising school bags, notebooks, drawing books, compass boxes, to students from slums and tribal areas. Last year, it distributed around 25,000 school kits. “We found that in many rural and tribal areas, children get textbooks from the government, but they don’t get bags to carry them,” says Mr Moghe.
SSF funds this with sponsorships of Rs250 from individual and corporate donors. Kits are assembled and distributed by SSF’s volunteers to various NGOs.
SSF conducts a two-week NGO internship programme titled ‘Social Leadership Development’ for college students for a nominal fee. Around 15 students are placed with various NGOs and are assigned to specific projects. SSF also organises ‘Seva Darshan Tour’ where people visit various NGOs in and around Mumbai and Pune for a first-hand experience of grassroots situations and needs.
SSF plans to replicate its efforts in Nashik, Nagpur, Aurangabad and Panaji (Goa). SSF funds its operations only through donations. Mr Moghe says that getting volunteers on a continuous basis is a challenge.
You can help SSF as a volunteer, or contribute financially. All donations are eligible for tax-exemption under Section 80-G of Income tax Act.
Seva Sahayog Foundation
1st Floor, Pitruchhaya,
SH Palkar Marg, Shivaji Park,
Dadar, Mumbai-400 028
Tel: 022-2444 6094
The full-day seminar delved in to a complete range of issues on money such as how not to lose...
Mohan Jayaraman, MD, Experian Credit Information Co of India spoke on the role of a credit bureau, understanding credit rating and the consequences of a bad credit score
Moneylife Foundation conducted yet another successful and highly informative seminar on financial literacy. The event, which again witnessed a packed audience, was held at the International Centre, Goa. The first few sessions were conducted by the Moneylife Foundation trustees, Sucheta Dalal and Debashis Basu. Mohan Jayaraman, MD, Experian Credit Information Co of India spoke on the role of a credit bureau, understanding credit rating and the consequences of a bad credit score in a unique session titled ‘Credit Crossroads’.
Even today, many people are unaware about credit bureaus and the way they function. These organizations collate information on an individual's finances and assign a credit score to each person, and this consumer information is provided to banks and other financial agencies. The credit information report is an individual's loan repayment track record. Mr Jayaraman also emphasized the need to maintain a good credit history record by settling repayment matters with banks and lenders on time.
He stressed the importance of having a healthy credit score and how this is assigned. He explained what constitutes a credit history and how one can improve upon his score.
"If you regularly check your credit history, you could spot mistakes in case there are any, and you can contact your bank, or lender, to correct them," he added. He also busted some credit myths and clarified what is not included in a credit report.
In the session he identified several life events that we are likely to face as individuals and how to deal with our finances, especially our credit/ borrowings during those times—for example, if one plans to buy a house with a bank loan. He said one should check out the interest rates of the banks prior to applying and then when one has shortlisted a particular bank he should apply to avoid making multiple ‘enquiries, which could affect the credit score. Mr Jayaraman also focused on life events that are more likely to be faced by women. In the same way he spoke of other different life events like getting married, in case of a serious illness, divorce, etc.
For young students and the youth, he focused on the importance of a credit score when they plan to go ahead with further studies or in their first job. Many apply for an education loan and this becomes the foundation of their credit history; therefore they should manage it carefully.
In case one has been turned down for a loan they should stay calm and find out the reason for rejection. If the lender refuses a loan on account of a low credit score one should apply for a copy of their credit report to see where the fault lies and should try to rectify it immediately.
Mr Jayaraman pointed out that different credit bureaus had different ways of evaluating credit history and assigning scores, but it depended on the banks—how they used the information to grade the viability and reliability of the credit seeker. He underlined the need to settle all matters with banks and other lenders to ensure that the credit history is more accurate.
He said it was necessary to have a good credit history record, as it would help getting a loan easier and also prevent “identity theft”. In the session he also discussed on how one could manage the credit report and get it corrected in case of any error.