StudyMall project presented at CSIM (Centre for social initiative and management)

A room full of enthusiastic social change makers and experienced professionals along with their teachers and mentors ready to listen about Thinksharp Foundation “StudyMall” on a Saturday evening was a sign of there commitment towards there passion of starting something to help society.  Students doing course on NGO management and social  entrepreneurship were excited to listen what I have to tell them on managing StudyMall project under Thinksharp Foundation.

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We Thinksharp Foundation team was invited by CSIM Hyderabad to speak about our journey and management of NGO to students of CSIM this year in month of June. As our Founder was on not available, this great opportunity came to me to present StudyMall to CSIM students.

CSIM launched a centre in Hyderabad in 2002, by networking with Dr.Reddy’s Foundation. This centre has emerged as a prominent learning and networking centre for social workers, NGOs and budding social entrepreneurs in Hyderabad. CSIM offer a  Certificate Course in NGO Management and Social Entrepreneurship which is of  4.5 months duration and provides basic principles of management and entrepreneurship in  non-profit organization while retaining its social mission. (http://www.csim.in/csim-hyderabad.php) .

I was very much excited and bit nervous too to be speaking in front of professional students and teachers from professional course of social entrepreneurship. A big help and motivation was Dr.Shrivastav sir (Director CSIM Hyderabad)  who helped us from finding a comfortable slot to visit CSIM, then extending help on phone continuously  to find the location and being perfect host for us during the actual talk.

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As I started my presentation, it was more of very fruitful discussion where students (actually social entrepreneurs) had  questions like why and how we started, and why we named it StudyMall , one of the most interesting question was how do I volunteer and  helping StudyMall despite my  full time job and being from different profession ( I am a MBBS doctor) .  There were questions around our expansion plan, how an social enterprise survive, some legal questions and how we mobilize team and volunteer sitting in different locations and yet having StudyMall in remote rural places of Maharashtra. For those interested in venturing in this field i try to cover some basics we learned below on same-

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1.Legal paperwork before starting social venture– As explained them that ThinkSharp Foundation is registered U/S Mumbai Public Trust Act 1950 Reg.No E28181 (Mumbai), Date of registration – 13.09.2011 and legally has 80G and 12 A certificates s to accept donation and provide tax exemption the importance of having clear legal documents and knowledge percolated through them before starting any social venture.

2. Managing a NGO – For us what worked best is having an diverse and passionate team coming form different backgrounds-  Thinksharp Foundation core team Santosh, Bhagwan, Shraddha and Rahul all are coming from different professions and bring different skills which saves cost which is needed for an start up NGO.

Santosh looks after financial, legal and bringing new donors as he comes from financial marketing profession, Bhagwan looks into branding and marketing being an corporate well known artist, Rahul helps in social media and photograhy as he is a well established photographer (https://www.facebook.com/photushotu.rahul/?fref=ts,)  as for me i manage daily social media, communications and PR for Thinksharp Foundation.   We have extended team like Deepali (an writer) providing inputs on varied marketing factors, Kranti ( a financial strong background provides inputs on financial stuff) Mr. Mangesh ( CA himself helps a lot on legal stuff), Mr. Zahid an successful entrepreneur himself making time for us on any logistics we need, Amol providing his time and energy whenever we need him to visit StudyMall sites.

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3. For the mobilization of resources– The biggest question for us is how to mobilize funds, resources and run StudyMall  in rural parts while we all are in cities-

I  explained them how  we use technology like Watsapp, Skype, E-mail and telephonic calls to connect with local volunteers in rural villages where we have StudyMall to keep everyone on same page on making StudyMall useful to maximum capacity by rural children.We have a local volunteers who are  passionate about providing education infrastructure to their village children who then acts as our co-coordinator once the StudyMall is set up. An example is our passionate volunteer Mr. Saurabh Mangrule for our third project StudyMall at Vangani village. He is practically available to co ordinate  24/7 with us and teachers of Z.P. School with whom we are running StudyMall. (read about him(  http://thinksharpfoundation.org/blogs/blog/2016/04/19/studymall-at-village-vangani/ )

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4. Constant dialogue with actual beneficiaries of your social venture

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Our mantra for successful StudyMall lies in having strong support system at rural level where we open StudyMall, if its independent center or in collaboration with school, we ensure to have dialogue with teachers, village Panchyat, Sarpanch, teachers and key decision makers of village so as to understand actual need of that village and then providing customized solution. We ensure not to bombard infrastructure which is actually not needed this can be identified only after speaking to actual benefeciries and people who are local. For example, our first StudyMall was started with books and after year we introduced computer and now that its completed 3 years we will try to add digital learning solution because first  StudyMall at Surangali village was not ready for digitization at start due to non availability of skilled professional or lack of curiosity of surangali village children towards digital education, but now after three years they are ready to accept this and hence we plan to install it . However our third StudyMall at Vangani village  had skilled teachers knowing about digital educational infrastructure and children were also curious and exposed to such hence we installed digital projector and educational tablets from the beginning itself.

5. Expansion and scaling your social venture how and when-

Having a practical goal and staying true to your mission should always be priority while deciding scaling and expansion. We are many times asked to make StudyMall sustainable we should charge rural kinds minimal fee to use StudyMall set up. We always prioritized that StudyMall will remain free to use for rural children. Our plan is set up only maximum 3 StudyMall per year instead of 20 or 10, this is to ensure we provide customized StudyMall in every village which will be beneficial and used at fullest by village children instead of just mass availability of StudyMall with too many infrastructure which will not be used.

StudyMall at Vangani village

6 – Interaction and communication with industry
20160707_145806 For us what worked is having constant dialogue by attending various events to know how to frame strategy that works best to scale your social venture. We attended many events whenever possible for social entrepreneurship like recently SandBox Samvidha by Deshpande  Foundationread more on this event by us at http://thinksharpfoundation.org/blogs/blog/2016/08/06/together-we-can-do-studymall-at-sandbox-samvidhahubbali/) ,  UnLTD (http://www.unltdindia.org/) following many great websites like YourStory social section https://yourstory.com/ Following great social entrepreneurs http://www.muhammadyunus.org/. Connecting with great websites providing support to NGO  http://www.doinggoodfellows.org/,  http://www.ivolunteer.in/http://whiteboardindia.org/ . Following good resources covering NGO like CSR Journal http://thecsrjournal.in/an Industry leader in CSR space.

Ms.Mandeep founder at Quarterpants, http://www.quarterpants.com/ who helped us in making  social media fundraising strategy.

7) Fundraising and donation-

What works best for us is we are trying to solve a very common problem known to all poor education resource in rural parts of India. There is lot of awareness around this. But still creating an awareness about problem you want to solve is very critical because awareness will only create connect between donor and your NGO. We constantly create buzz about this poor education problem on our NGO  and individual team members website, Facebook, Twitter,Instagram etc and also keep focused approach on approaching those who are already from rural parts .

Keeping donors informed by use of different communication on how there donations are used is very important. We do this by use of mailing ( using MaiChimp- http://mailchimp.com/) social media pictures editing by   Canva https://www.canva.com/, social pilot for scheduling pots in advance-https://socialpilot.co/.

For fundraising we use platforms like Milaap https://milaap.org/ , BitGiving –https://www.bitgiving.com/ and  Ketto https://www.ketto.org/

This are some practical basics we learned during our venture, but for professional learning there are many institutes and website that should be referred one is CSIM course as explained above.

You can donate and support us too..http://www.thinksharpfoundation.org/#/donate

Thanks and keep your Human side up that will keep you smiling….

Written by -Dr.Shraddha M Bhange

Volunteer and Writer for Thinksharp Foundation.

Web- www.ThinkSharpFoundation.org

Fb- https://www.facebook.com/ThinkSharpFoundation

Twitter- https://twitter.com/ThinkSharpFound

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-4cDXLuwAThHXhNOazv5KA

Media Coverage- Click to read recent media coverage on National platform

Donate –http://www.thinksharpfoundation.org/#/donate

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“You don’t need time to help someone, you need kind Heart”

What is the most common reaction people give you, when you tell them about your NGO and work ? I have to know this and so I asked Santosh.

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With a chuckle Santosh said”Most common reaction would go like the one I had during one of friends get together a friend  casually mentioned to me ” Boss, you really got have a easy job and great boss, you can work on your NGO you must be so lucky to have this free time.”  What I didn’t tell him is that ” I am a regular guy like him with same target, appraisal and promotion pressure but what makes my life look easy is that I am happy because I know life is more than this and when I visit my NGO StudyMall project I see how my small efforts are helping village children like me everyday to read, learn and play.

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“We have all our worries and day to day job, but at the same time we have equal chance to go beyond this and be a bit more, a promotion is great from associate to manager but a promotion from being just  a person to being a helpful person for society is more appealing to me.” says Santosh and I totally agree.

Where did it all start, I mean from a busy regular job guy to a social entrepreneur ?

Santosh with a big smile said “Yes  i am computer Engg and MBA graduate, a regular guy working in Mumbai. I was  finding my way through and  despite being a very self confident person I used to struggle  with communication in English and was always being quizzed by people on my village and rural educational background. Whenever I faced this situation I used to wonder can I do something for rural children so  they  do not face same situation ? ”

Continuing his sentence with little pause Santosh adds “This idea got a boost when I visited my village during Diwali vacation. As I sipped hot cup of tea sitting under my good old tree chatting up with some of my village friends and some other elders from village, I saw the school across road in same poor infrastructure as it was 15 years back. The school had just finished and children were getting disbursed joyously . But what I saw was children did not go home but started going towards farm or they just came to the tree trying to entertain themselves by getting in communication of elderly and off course the tree was perfect place to do so. I asked few children and people around “why this children are not going home but wandering or going to farm or are here with us?”  One of the children a nine  Year enthusiastic boy replied ” we do not have anyone at home it is just 4 PM and we either go to farm to work or sit here”.

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I was speechless as I remembered this was what I was doing as a kid, but I was lucky enough that my parents realized that the village education was not enough and tried there best to shift me to town school, which either when I look back was not of standard in comparison to what we have in Mumbai.

This got me thinking what if they have a small place  to sit after school where we can read books, play games, talk and discuss children subject rather than being in elderly conversations around a tree, what if we can paint, draw, recite poems and what a lucky day it will be for village student to handle a computer?

StudyMall at Vangani village saurabh helping Vangani children at Digital StudyMall edited 8

Being a working professional I knew importance of having legal documentation, and I knew if I want to do something for the village children I need to have registration for NGO.  So I started in 2011 by registering an NGO “Thinksharp Foundation”. No dream is complete without friends , off course I had my friends on board with me Sachin, Deepali and others supporting me as volunteers.

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One of my friend  Mr.Bhagwan Jadhav an professionally successful media person staying in Mumbai asked me  to start first StudyMall in his village Surangali, ThinkSharp Foundation “Studymall” was thus launched on 29 Sep 2013 at Surangali village after 2 years of struggle period of documentation, funding, marketing, visits etc.

Since then I along with ThinkSharp team have been happy to see our “StudyMall” helping everyday 1500  rural children on an average learning, and growing  in academic and non academic skills in 3 different villages.

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We have given rural children a better  place to sit after school or during school, books,art, crafts, games , electricity supply in power cut times through solar lamps, computer education and  a local volunteer as there mentor available for them.

I still have a long way to go beyond 3 villages, in Maharashtra state all benefits are more concentrated in and around Mumbai and Pune, Marathwada region is basically away from much needed help and my aim is to help every village in Marathwada alongwith other parts as needed.

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So what are few moments that made you feel proud of your “StudyMall”.  Santosh replied “There are many but this one stands out at this moment, On one of my visit one of the parents said to me ” I am so thankful to StudyMall that my younger son got a job by studying here, and i hope every child in this village find something like this from StudyMall.” And another one is when our volunteer Mr.Saurabh sent this cute little picture of handwritten note from our 3 StudyMall Vangani which says how much this child loves StudyMall.

studymall vangani impact handwritten note

StudyMall has become more than a place or a library for this villages, it is their own mall where they go and use everything  related to their study free of cost.

 

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From an Management guy to a hero guy for this rural children an exceptional journey Santosh has chosen. StudyMall is an attempt by Santosh and his team of  normal people with their own problems and struggle but whats different is there beyond normal passion to  help rural children.

 

You can donate and support us too..

Thanks and keep your Human side up that will keep you smiling….

Written by -Dr.Shraddha M Bhange

Volunteer and Writer for Thinksharp Foundation.

Web- www.ThinkSharpFoundation.org

Fb- https://www.facebook.com/ThinkSharpFoundation

Twitter- https://twitter.com/ThinkSharpFound

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-4cDXLuwAThHXhNOazv5KA

Media Coverage- Click to read recent media coverage on National platform

Donate – https://milaap.org/campaigns/thinksharpfoundation-studymall

 

 

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It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

Preeti an 7th std standard student from village Surungali in 2013 told us “she wants to be astronaut” that amazed us. Because in a village of hardly any TV, Satellite, forget about internet but no desktops and 2 school at long distances with poor infrastructure her confidence and knowledge that she wants to be an astronaut. We asked her what she is doing for achieving to be astronaut, she said she goes to school but she does not know exactly how to be one? She spends her time after school looking after her younger brother and doing daily chores of house till her parents return from farm. She does not have place to study or read amazing stories of astronauts after school or in school, she does not  have access to internet to google “how to be a astronaut”. Surungali is a village  close to Aurangabad and native village of our creative head Mr. Bhagwan Jadhav.

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So we took up this challenge not just for Preeti but to help maximum children of Surungali who wander after school in village or farms and who do not have access to basic education infrastructure like a place to read, learn and play and have access to academic and non academic learning material. A place where they can read wonderful stories, do their homework, interact, play games etc. A place they can share and learn. We wanted them to give a place one stop solution for their educational need and we called it “StudyMall”- a educational mall, its more than a Library.

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After 6 months  of opening StudyMall, our StudyMall children Avinash told us on one of our visit, he cannot study after 6 PM because there is no electricity. The children urged donors and supporters through a video and we passed on this video message on our social media, and within a month we supplied them solar lamps.IMG-20140213-WA000

In our summer vacation visit children told us they want to play as they have vacations now, but they lack sports equipements. So  again with help of our supporters we added more sports and games.  It started with cricket competition but now they have one sports event every month.
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Then there came a visit where children became so trusting towards us they demanded desktop right away as we entered village, with bunch of flowers they grew in open space of our StudyMall they welcomed us and then immediately said unanimously “we want computer” and as again one of our supporter within 1.5 months sent us desktop which is children’s new friend now in StudyMall.

 

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Recently on our visit an elderly couple meet us and blessed us, we were not surprised as we are fortunate always to get blessings on our trips but we were curious. They told us there son used StudyMall to study for his entrance exam  and now is enrolled in a military job.

What started as just a small idea of providing place to read books has turned into  a place of trust, learning, development and growth which was impossible without our kind donors and supporters.

But there is still a long way to go we are yet to provide more books, desktops, e-learning, vocational training and so much more to surungali chidren.  And there are so many villages in need of  help where children are waiting to be doctors, lawyers, hi-tech farmers, sportsmen, soldiers and the list of dreams goes on.

We are happy and more motivated to work because seeing few of the results of StudyMall lbenefiting rural children like  in increasing grades, studytime, sports interest, awareness on career path extra curricular learning, personality development and playing sports has increased substantially.

Now we are gearing up for 4th StudyMall at Chikatgaon village, Aurangabad, support us on https://www.bitgiving.com/project/index/id/BIT469

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Because we believe when Children are strong a society is strong and “It is easy to build strong children but difficult to repair broken men”. We have easy chance to build strong children now.

Thanks and keep your Human side up that will keep you smiling….

Written by -Dr.Shraddha M Bhange

Volunteer and Writer for Thinksharp Foundation.

Web- www.ThinkSharpFoundation.org

Fb- https://www.facebook.com/ThinkSharpFoundation

Twitter- https://twitter.com/ThinkSharpFound

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-4cDXLuwAThHXhNOazv5KA

Media Coverage- http://m.indiatoday.in/story/read-play-learn-surangali-jalna-district/1/444148.html

Donate – https://www.bitgiving.com/project/index/id/BIT469

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StudyMall – Read, Learn, Play

ThinkSharp

StudyMall – Read, Learn, Play is more than just a library which provides better educational infrastructure in rural areas. Include better sitting place during and after school. It also provides Books, Educational games, Toys, Computer learning, Digital/ Multimedia learning, and conducts workshops on various topics.

Problem that we intend to solve

  • Lack of better place to sit after school for study

  • Poor infrastructure of schools which fail to give required educational facilities

  • Libraries are either absent or are at long distances

  • Rural children do not have access to digital / Multimedia learning.

Impact of StudyMall

At present with one StudyMall the statistics are-

  • More than 1500 children are getting advantage of our current StudyMall

  • Increase in awareness regarding education and its need by 25 to 30% of previous level.

  • Increase in study time by 300 to 350% i.e previously student used to study for 1 or half hour now 3 to 4 hour

  • Increase in marks / percentage by 5 to 10 % of previous level

  • Computer learning and benefits are known to students

  • Digital learning experience through projector, Interactive board and educational tabs

  • Increased in school attendance

  • More concentration during class due to digital learnin

  • Smart education systems with multimedia content would help teachers in teaching in a demonstrative way

Project Locations

  • At Post – Surangali, Tq. Bhokaradan, Dist: Jalna, State: Maharashtra, Country: India,
    Pin- 431203

  • GSC School, Varangaon, Tq.Bhusawal, Dist. Jalgaon, Maharashtra, Country: India,
    Pin- 425305

  • ZP School No.3, Village Vangani (w), Taluka Amernath, Dist.Thane, Maharashtra, Country: India,
    Pin- 421503

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