According to recent statistics, India is home to the largest number of poor people after Nigeria. These numbers shocked Akansha Hazari who founded m.Paani to play a part.
As the world’s largest democracy, India is a big power player in the world. The citizens of this wonderful nation could help create a strong future. But they need a solid foundation for doing that. The Indian Government needs to offer underprivileged and poor masses education, sanitation, water, and safe spaces. Lack of infrastructure is weakening our morale and lives. How often do we see slums, dirty public toilets, unequipped public schools, and colleges? Why are we failing to empower such a huge chunk of our population? While it is the Government’s duty to provide basic amenities, even citizens like us can do something.
The country is on a precipice of change and we can push it in the right direction. Ordinary, hard-working citizens like us can uplift the poor and lower middle class too. Akansha Hazari took a simple idea of community building and created something spectacular. A student of Cambridge and Princeton, Akansha has always been an activist. Her heart and soul lay in supporting the needy. But she knew just donating money wasn’t the answer. Giving money may solve a problem once but giving the poor the right education can solve the problem forever. It gives them the chance to do more than just survive. Ask any poor Indian, what does he need? The answer will be electricity, water or education. They want to improve their quality of life and live respectfully. Akansha Hazari felt that these things could be provided to them by other citizens.
She launched m.Paani, a mass loyalty program in 2014. Through m.Paani, customers can log in purchases and receive points. These points then get converted to water, electricity, education, and sanitation for underprivileged areas. Thus your consumption can actually contribute to a social revolution. Akansha Hazari plans it to become the next Alibaba. A lot like air miles, you can purchase anything from partner stores and they will update the points to your account. The benefit of this is twofold- the social impact and you support local, small businesses. True to form, m.paani has partnered with grocery stores, local retailers and businesses. Akansha and her business earn money as they charge commission from shop owners. Shop owners and businesses get a customized website and a ready customer database. The idea for her start-up came from an annual competition she participated in at Cambridge. Students had to create a business venture that could tackle water scarcity. Her belief is that a business can be purpose driven instead of just money driven. Data and internet are how the world functions but only the privileged world. Through m.Paani, she is distributing power and putting the poor on an equal level. Revenue has been reported to grow by 30% of businesses that partner with Akansha’s platform. The road to success has been tough and filled with obstacles. They have managed to raise funding and now have major plans for expansion.
Akansha has been recognized for her social entrepreneurship by India and several countries. Hilary Clinton awarded her the Global Leadership and Economic Empowerment Award. Only a team of 35, they have big dreams. The plan is to incorporate Blockchain in their loyalty program. As an Indian and as a woman, Akansha has managed to break the glass ceiling. Akansha didn’t hesitate to ask for help and received training from Google to understand the technological aspect of the platform. The business comes first and while it hasn’t received large profits, all the money from the business goes into running and updating the business. Akansha is firm on the fact that the company comes first and she will continue to work hard to get better results.
Featured Photo: Portrait of an Indian child by Nithi clicks under CC BY 2.0