Coming from a family of hardworking people and social thinkers, Priya Naik always knew she wanted to do something different. With this in mind and her positive attitude, she started Samhita Social Ventures.
India is a layered, diverse country with varied problems. Nobody can predict or understand the complex issues faced by Indian states or understand them without effective research. After studying in US, Priya managed to travel 25 countries by the time she was 25. This enriching experience opened her eyes to a new world. A world where the reality was bleak yet it wasn’t too late. She felt she could keep traveling the world or she could go home and make a difference. India was home and it was also the country she wanted to try and save. Unlike other NRIs who pay lip service and just keep donating money, Priya wanted to stay and work here. Her mind was racing to find an exciting business venture or opportunity. A former researcher at the Poverty Action Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she mentored a student team to find answers to reversing or reducing poverty. Her critical bent and thinking have always made her a figure people look up to.
Business in India is booming. People are more likely to create jobs than apply for one. Start-ups are the future and Priya noticed this as she observed the people around her. Companies and organizations have a civic and social responsibility to provide for the country or their community. They usually rely on internal structures or departments to channel money to beneficial causes. This may be acceptable but there is so much more these companies can do. Priya Naik wanted to tap into this area and figure a solution. The private sector can transform the social sector if it benefits both of them. She launched Samhita Social Ventures, a platform that connects corporations with social organizations. ‘Samhita’ meaning ‘Collective Good’ is the basis of her business idea. Instead of relying on finding partners for their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) projects, they can just turn to Priya and her company. Individuals, donors, companies, and institutions can research causes, people in need of their support. It will also create a community of like-minded philanthropists, activists, and social thinkers.
Priya doesn’t just act as a middleman. She is an adviser and a consultant. Companies pay her to guide them through the process of social responsibility. She will sit down with companies, founders and owners to discuss their relation to the community. How are their practices impacting the people they live around? What needs to be done to be socially responsible and sustainable? Big businesses often have economic, social and environmental repercussions. They need a well thought out strategy or plan to guarantee the support of locals or citizens. For a fee, Priya will provide them with implementation ideas, assessment tools, and strategies. She does not charge anything from the organizations receiving donations or equipment. In fact, her focus is on making sure they receive as much as they need and on a consistent basis.
At present they have 1500 NGOs and 333 programs live on their platform. They have developed a tool that companies can use to select NGOs and organizations that interest them. The Indian Government launches hygiene and sanitation schemes. Samhita is one of the first ventures to spread information and create understanding about these schemes with corporations and companies. In just 7 years, Priya has transformed her idea into a fully fledged company that employs people and creates social change. The road has been rocky and long for her because people usually remain skeptical of a female entrepreneur yet she persisted. Her belief in her vision and her commitment to her country has inspired many men and women across India.
Featured Photo by Tawheed Manzoor