My personal association with Umeed started with a Telangana state government event hosted by a visionary gentleman Mr Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary of the Industries & Commerce (I&C) and Information Technology (IT) Departments of the Telangana government, promoting discussions on corporate participation in supporting social impact efforts, where I met the several highly passionate dignitaries including Gauri, who besides being a CSR & Diversity Manager at Genpact was the co-founder of Umeed, a nonprofit she had started with a fellow Teach for India batchmate Udita to promote women’s empowerment through employment generation & entrepreneurship.
I ran into Gauri again as she spoke at an eminent panel for a fundraising event in Hyderabad, and then again at a flea market where my wife and I happened to find some excellent handmade merchandise produced by women from disadvantaged backgrounds that Umeed had supported. These still sit prominently at home, and we were immediately taken by not just the quality of the products, but also by the visible confidence of the women at the stall who exuded a sense of hope and passion about their enterprise.
After this first hand experience, we had Umeed visit our Google Hyderabad office for a handicraft making activity where employees didn’t just get to make some high quality products for themselves but also learnt from the interactions with the women who trained them, little knowing about the challenges including domestic violence they have long endured, and how recently they would have started finding even the courage to step outside of their homes. While the stories about the women are already inspiring, the future potential they could reach with just a little allyship seems immense.
Since then, we’ve watched Umeed go from strength to strength despite the challenges of a grassroots nonprofit working laboriously with individual women instead of giving up on anyone or chasing glory in numbers. We have had Googlers volunteer to help the org learn about online marketing techniques. And we hope to see several of the women emerge further possibly as successful entrepreneurs, which could inspire thousands of others to believe.
An appeal to corporate professionals is to look out for such stories that inspire and expose them to others around. Not only would it benefit those like the women supported by Umeed who simply revel in the exposure, but it would leave lasting lessons for the professional communities around being enterprising and courageous – something . Maybe it could build some of the bridges that Mr Jayesh Ranjan envisioned; maybe it will just create some new connections for others to build on. Either way, it’s an opportunity that could feel like a small thing for professionals, but could have a ripple impact for all.
Written by Anand Devsharma
Online Sales Lead, Google and Director, KickOff Solutions