31 Oct 2015

India’s Public Healthcare System

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Doctors examine a MRI scan of a patient lying on a bed inside a ward at RGGGH in ChennaiAccording to a recent report by Deloitte, India’s public health care system is patchy, with underfunded and overcrowded hospitals and clinics, and inadequate rural coverage.  Reduced funding by the Indian Government has been attributed to historic failures on the part of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW) to spend its allocated budget fully.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), just 33 percent of Indian health care expenditures in 2012 came from government sources.  

And, today, challenges remain.  The vision for the plan period of 2012-2017 is to achieve acceptable standards of health care for the Indian populace.  However, India still doesn’t have a central regulatory authority for its health care sector.  Additionally, India’s health care sector is capital-intensive, with long gestation and payback periods of new projects.  Land and infrastructure costs account for 60-70 percent of capital expenditure for hospitals.  Further, the industry also requires capital for upgrade/maintenance/replacement of medical equipment and expansion.  Availability of capital at a reasonable cost remains a hurdle.

One way to increase India’s health care funding and access is through innovative public-private partnerships.  Among other suggestions to improve care, companies should leverage information technology (IT) to create patient-centric healthcare systems that can improve response times, reduce human error, save costs, and impact the quality of life.  At the same time, the government should focus on establishing more medical colleges and training institutes to provide the requisite doctors, dentists, nurses and paramedics.  The government should also invest in preventive and social medicine by promoting health education and preventive health-care concepts. 

01 Sep 2015

Corporate Social Responsibility in Corporations

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 Corporate-SocialCorporate Citizenship, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability: three different names for what one could arguably call the central tension in contemporary society’s view of what corporations need to do to deserve a license to operate.

Unlike the corporations of the 19th and 20th centuries, which were set up to attract capital and to create manufacturing capability, present-day corporations do not need a manufacturing operation or a way to raise capital.  The 21st-century corporation, just as Drucker predicted, harnesses and focuses on human capital.  It is people with smart ideas, who know how to innovate and run things.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to a business practice that involves participating in initiatives that benefit society.  It has evolved from the actions of philanthropic foundations, other nonprofit organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  These corporate citizenship initiatives reflect the beliefs and values of the enterprise, and those actions demonstrate them to the company’s business and local communities.

For example, Dawn, the dish washing liquid owned by multinational consumer goods company, Procter & Gamble (P&G) provides an exceptional case study of how the company successfully displayed its values and commitment to local communities during the 2010 BP oil spill disaster. After 40 years of partnering with the Marine Mammal Center and International Bird Rescue to save, rehabilitate, and release animals back into the wild, the company took the initiative to ship 2,000 bottles of Dawn dish soap to the Gulf region where the oil was expected to hit.  The detergent was used to clean ducks and other oil-covered marine life.  

detergentToday, the company benefits tremendously from these CSR-focused strategies and efforts.  The company reports having heard from consumers that they make a point of buying this product to help animals because they love animals.  Not only are they supporting these animals, but these purchasing behaviors and habits also help increase sales and ROI.  Even as much as the packaging labels of Dawn detergent bottles has made a difference.   At the supermarket, Dawn detergent sticks out from competitors on the shelves.  The product label messaging reads, ‘Dawn Helps Save Wildlife’, combined with cute images of otters, ducks and other birds largely affected in the spill.  

By establishing a strong strategic framework, it becomes possible to embed corporate social responsibility into the everyday business activities of the corporation and to align incentive structures to reflect this.  An organization’s strategic function should be communicating its mission and values to all audience members and covering a wide range of things,  primarily making sure the company is able to shape its messaging rather than have some other entity shape it.   A well-run CSR effort that delivers what it promises is a powerful example of good brand stewardship.  

20 Aug 2015

Corporate Philanthropy and the Companies Giving

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When most people think about philanthropy and giving they think of Bill Gates giving money to help Africa thrive or others pledging to give their wealth to charity before or shortly after they die. However, there is another important form of philanthropy that accounts for billions of dollars being given to charity every year.

Corporate philanthropy plays an important role in a democratic society. Charitable donations amount to an average of over $15 billion a year. Some common types of corporate philanthropy include programs that match donations made by employees or customers, volunteer grant programs, community grants and simple giving.

These are some of the best corporate givers:

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo has the second largest corporate foundation in terms of giving. Wells Fargo aims to help the communities where they have branches saying:

“strive to strengthen financial knowledge and opportunities for our customers and communities “

They donate to non-profits, encourage employee volunteerism and help provide loans for community development.


When CEO Tim Cook took over for Steve Jobs in 2011 he had some enormous shoes to fill. Cook was not intimidated and had no problem making some quick changes. One of those was creating a donation matching program which matches up to $10,000 per year for their employees.

General Electric

General Electric was one of the first to engage in corporate philanthropy when they created the first corporate matching program in 1954. General Electric invest heavily in technology to help improve community access to education and health programs. They are one of the top five corporate givers.


Wal-Mart may receive a lot of negative attention for providing low wages and little health insurance to its employees, but it is one of the top three corporate givers. The Wal-Mart Foundation gave over $180 million to charity in 2013. Like Wells Fargo, Wal-Mart aims to aims to help build the communities they serve through donations and grants.

30 Jun 2015

Teaming Up To Bring Renewable Energy to India

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India, under Prime Minister Narenda Modi, is making renewable energy a priority for the future. Modi’s latest investment in the renewable energy industry is part of a $20 billion joint venture between Foxconn Technology, Softbank and Bharti Enterprises to make renewable energy a reality in the impoverished country.

Before the proposal to increase output was accepted by India’s cabinet, the target for solar capacity by 2022 was 20 gigawatts. The new, more aggressive timeline, has pushed the target to 100 gigawatts by 2022. This means India will have have to add more solar energy capacity than the United States has in recent years.

However, many look at India with skepticism and don’t believe they will be able to meet their goals. Even with the the heightened enthusiasm in renewable energy, India installed only about a third of the annual capacity needed to hit their 2022 goal in the last year and a half. However, because of eased legal restrictions and increased financing many believe the ambitious timeline is feasible.

The joint venture in Indian solar power requires a lot of foreign investment and the plan and timeline are not yet complete. U.S. and Chinese companies alike are committing to investments in renewables for the country.

In an effort to achieve their goals, India has allowed for investments to be made entirely by companies outside of India specifically for renewable energy. Regardless, most companies prefer partnering with Indian companies to help navigate the country’s political and legal landscape.

This endeavor will make India into one of the top countries for renewable energy. And it is coming at an important time. People are coming out of poverty and India’s economy is growing quickly and demand for energy is growing with it. With foreign investment and Modi’s commitment, an India on renewable energy is becoming a reality.

20 May 2015

Organizations Helping the Nepalese

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On April 25th , 2015 Nepal experienced a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Gorkha. The capital city of Kathmandu is nearby and was completely devastated. Slowly the numbers came in on the extent of the damage. 8,000 people died and many more were injured.

There has been a flow of support from aid agencies, the federal government and a number of high profile philanthropists. Many have said that volunteer support is welcome but money is needed in the impoverished nation.

Nepal sits on the just northeast of India and has never been a wealthy country. It is a small country and the epicenter of the earthquake was in the center, so the entire country is hurting from the quake.

Communication was down in the country for weeks, but organizations across the world have been stepping in to help aid the Nepalese. The American Red Cross is working with The Red Cross in Nepal to organize efforts to make sure every dollar is maximized.

Save the Children is another organization that is getting involved in a big way. They have had a presence in Nepal for almost 40 years and was able to make an immediate impact because of how well they know the country. Save the Children immediately sent a medical team and a crew whose first priority was ensuring safe drinking water for everyone. They are also saving money prepare for future earthquakes.

Online social networks and crowdsourcing are helping out as well. Crowdrise had more than ten fundraisers running almost immediately after the earthquake happened. Global Giving has raised over a million dollars for Nepal.

Oxfam is helping by sending a team of tech experts from around the world to help with rebuilding and helping to avoid another catastrophe like this. If you are in any of the biggest cities in India there are offices for Goonj, a relief agency, that are accepting donations to help our Nepalese neighbors.



28 Apr 2015

Some Important Leaders Taking The Giving Pledge

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Bill Gates and Warren Buffet started The Giving Pledge in 2010 in an effort to bring visibility to important issues and to get high profile billionaires to pledge money to help improve the world. The number of people that have signed the pledge to give over half of their money to charity is now over 125. Many of them are household names and arguably their biggest contribution is putting their names on the list.

One symbolic pledger is Ray Dalio. Dalio started the biggest hedge fund in the world, Bridgewater Associates. Dalio is worth an estimated $15 billion. Dalio signed the pledge in 2011. Dalio is a completely self-made success and sits at one of the most visible positions in the finance industry. Dalio is important because hedge funds were often vilified after the crash of 2008. But many hedge fund managers have philanthropic foundations with billions of dollars, Dalio has started to give more and more money to his foundation.

Tim Cook recently joined the ranks of pledgers. What differentiates Cook is not only that he took over for the most important tech entrepreneur of all-time after his tragic passing but his relatively low net worth. At just $800 his net worth is nothing compared to the likes of other pledgers Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Larry Ellison whose assets sum to more than $150 billion. But Cook is the CEO of Apple and along with entrepreneurs like Ellison and Gates this pledge is an endorsement for philanthropy.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook has also taken The Giving Pledge. Zuckerberg is just 30 years old and is worth more than $37 billion dollars. As Facebook continues to add value to users and expand to other countries Zuckerberg stands to be the richest on this list in the future, helping to make the Giving Pledge last across generations. The millennial generation are already staring to show they would rather work for and buy from mission driven companies that seek to do good. The future looks promising!

06 Feb 2015

Getting Medicine in India

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India has one of the largest pharmaceutical industries in the world and supplies low-cost medicine to countries around the world, but it works much differently than in the United States. In 1970, the Indian government stopped honoring patents for food and drugs. With such a large poor population many see this as a necessity to be able to provide inexpensive drugs to those that need them.

After this law was enacted, large companies didn’t see India as a great investment and pulled out, while the Indians mastered the art of reverse-engineering medicines. There is still some innovation in creating new pharmaceuticals but the market for these inexpensive drugs continues to grow quickly.

President Obama recently paid a visit to India and has urged the Indian government to adopt patent intellectual property laws that mirror those of the United States but this may have far-reaching consequences. This would price millions of people in India out of being able to purchase these drugs. Tuberculosis, for example, is a huge problem in developing countries like India and these drugs help combat it. India also sells affordable pharmaceuticals around the world so millions of these people would not be able to afford the drugs they need either.

Medicine Without Borders (MSF) has got involved as well after reading a draft of new intellectual property regulations. The United States has been pressuring the government to adopt more stringent patent protections to spur innovation but MSF contends that more stringent patent protections actually hurt innovation and pointed to numerous studies supporting this.

04 Jan 2015

New Charitable Giving Platforms

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Technology continues to grow at a rapid pace, entire industries are being disrupted and payments on mobile devices have become a reality. The ease of making payments has prompted e-commerce companies to change the way they do business. However, the act of giving hasn’t changed much since the advent of new technologies. It’s not just technology that’s changing either, the concept of giving among millennials is different than previous generations and movements and larger causes are whats motivating them to give to charity.

After seeing a decline in donations during The Great Recession, many charities and non-profits have started to look at new and better ways to fundraise. Social media is the means by which many people are connecting these days so it only makes since charities have a presence and connect with their donors there. But many other platforms are being launched as well that organizations who are looking to connect with a younger generation might find useful.


Charitweet – Twitter’s immense popularity is the perfect place to find and reach donors. Charitweet actually uses the twitter platform to facilitate giving. To donate, one tweets the username of the charity they want to donate to, the username of Charitweet (@chrtwt) and the amount of the donation. If it’s the donor’s first time giving through Charitweet they will be prompted via a notification through Twitter to enter their credit card information. Every subsequent charitweet is then as simple as 123. All charities must be rated a 3 stars or more on Charity Navigator.


Givelocity – Givelocity allows users to connect with others interested in giving to similar causes, pool their funds and give. Visitors to the site choose causes that are important to them, start or join a fund with other donors and together they vote on where their money is given. This platform allows people who are willing to give but that don’t have a lot of resources to participate in charitible giving. Givelocity also caters to corporations allowing them to create groups with people associated with the company, and match funds.


25 Nov 2014

Other Volunteer Options – Doctors Without Borders

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Doctors Helping With Ebola.

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is a humanitarian organization originally started in France. MSF does most of their work in warring regions and regions that are confronting serious diseases like the Ebola Virus. Dr. Lopa Gupta along with her husband and two children visit India each year and have found the work to be very gratifying. The Sadilka Foundation is not affiliated with Doctors Without Borders.

Now an international organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, various governmental and corporate donations provide about 20% of the organizations yearly budget of 400 million dollars. Although an international organization, MSF does not align himself with any state, religious, or political organizations. This allows them to operate on their own without any bias.

The organization is comprised of doctors, nurses, logistical experts, engineers, and other medical professionals. These doctors and nurses volunteer their time because they believe in the mission of MSF; that everyone has the right to medical attention regardless of where they live, what religion they practice, or what politics they adhere to. MSF believes the needs of the people outweigh the need for these affiliations.

The organization was started in 1971 after the Nigerian Civil War, in which doctors from France volunteered for the Red Cross to help the Biafrans that were at war with Nigeria. These doctors were attacked by the Nigerian army since they were assisting the enemy. After this experience some of those volunteers decided an apolitical organization was necessary to be able to help everyone.

This humanitarian work does not come without risks. Much like the Peace Corps and other organizations that try to help third world countries. Injuries are sustained and deaths can occur as a result of various threats. War zones are replete with stray bullets and mines, aid workers are often seen as they enemy by occupying forces or even from within the tribe. Some doctors even contract the disease they are trying to help eradicate. Just two weeks ago a doctor was cured of Ebola in New York. He had contracted the virus  in Africa where he had gone to help treat and educate people about Ebola.

In 1999, MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize, a much deserved honor.

01 Jul 2013

The Most Bittersweet of Goodbyes: A Reflection of My Past 18 Days

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I feel that now, on my cab ride back to Kilimanjaro International Airport, is an adequate time to reflect upon my experiences here in Arusha, Tanzania.  I cannot accurately put into words the permanent and irrevocable impact my journey has had upon my life, but I will give it a shot.  Never before have I encountered such bliss and agony, two emotions on opposite ends of the spectrum, in a single day.  Perhaps such emotions define a “bittersweet goodbye.”  Waking up this morning to a sea of new volunteers, I felt replaced in a sense.  However, the second the gate to my volunteer house flew open with Nicole giving me her classic goofy smile, Chaeli ready to tear off her scrubs, Fran sitting down beside me, and Karla reaching for a smoke in her typical panicked state, with all of them acknowledging my presence as I sat serenely reading on a bench, I suddenly felt at home again.  The sense of belonging and love that I have felt, given, and  received here are sentiments I never have experienced before, at least to such a degree.  Such emotions are quite inexplicably the most beautiful ones I have ever encountered.

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