2014-15 was about scaling the team and preparing a strong foundation for the coming years. At Parinaam, we do not believe in rushing into expanding programs merely for the sake of numbers.
Our programs need to have the same impact for our beneficiaries as when we first rolled them out.
We saw immense success as we continued to touch more lives but there were two essential pillars that we created - a passionate and dedicated team and the wonderful people and organizations that came forward with their expertise and generous donations.
Through the year, we had our fair share of challenges. Children from our Academic Adoption Program having to drop out of the excellent schools our team have worked so hard to put them into; mothers of our Urban Ultra Poor Program losing all hope in life and abandoning their children over a fight with their spouses; or an Ujjivan customer in her last stage of cancer coming to us for help that we were not in a position to provide.
Even though we found ourselves resigned to the hard realities of our beneficiaries’ situations, there were many more moments that gave us the belief that we had a guardian angel looking over us, someone with great power and strength.
On the 2nd of April, I had the honour of representing Parinaam and speaking in a select panel chosen by the RBI in a conference on financial inclusion to celebrate RBI’s 80th Anniversary. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi; Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley; and the RBI Governer. Raghuram Rajan inaugurated the occasion. It was rewarding to hear the Prime Minister speak about the importance of financial inclusion and know that Parinaam has been striving to do exactly what he dreams of for the nation since we started in 2008.
Taking our Diksha Program to the tribal areas of Meghalaya and realizing that we can make a difference to the most remote of regions. Parinaam collaborated with The World Bank and the Government of Meghalaya, to provide our financial literacy program to three tribal communities – Khasi, Jaintia and Garo.
Piloting Diksha for children of Ujjivan customers in the North. The program was met with a lot of popularity amongst the staff, customers and their children so we have decided to take it to all the regions. This financial year, the Diksha team hopes to enrol 30,000 children into the program. I look forward to hearing more about the successes of opening their accounts and maybe one day, a child will be able to pay for his/her education on account of a saving habit we inculcated through our program.
Expansion of our Education Programs to double the number of children we have placed in our previous years. We were struggling to find students who required our help but now that the word has spread we have an overwhelming number of applications. There is no doubt that our beneficiaries understand education is essential for their family’s future and with the rising prices of school fees, mothers are determined to find means of paying them.
Bringing back our Healthcare Program with eye camps for Ujjivan customers and understanding how we can expand our Medical Intervention Program to help more families. We continue our search for a good health insurance package that caters to this sector. Till then, we will provide our beneficiaries with quality care, work with hospitals for the best cost, and aid them to access government and health care schemes.
The most gratifying of moments was closing down our Urban Ultra Poor Program operations in our first four communities. The day began with an apprehensive expectation that the community would be upset at our departure but instead we were met with a community that was self-sufficient and confident through stable livelihoods, ID cards and savings books and were ready to leave Parinaam’s nest and fly on their own.
In 2015-16 we plan to continue to expand the programs that have shown us great impact. We would like to go back to innovating and creating initiatives that support our families. The tide is turning in the microfinance industry and with Ujjivan introducing new financial products and enabling their customers to transact via technology there is a need to educate our families so they are not left behind.
We are grateful to all our sponsors and well-wishers for the support and faith they have shown in Parinaam. Last year, we were happy to welcome several new corporates and individuals to our growing family. Sustainability and funding are key issues faced by most non-profit organizations. Parinaam works with the intention of providing the best quality benefits at a minimal cost. To successfully continue our programs, we need support from donors, sponsors, our volunteers and our friends. We appreciate donations of all types – money, time, some product/service that will benefit our families. We are confident that this year will bring us the sponsorships and donations that will enable us to innovate and expand new programs across India.
May 30th, 2015