[TC-I Changemakers]: Interview with Maya Ajmera of The Global Fund for Children

The ThinkChange India staff is committed to providing our readers with interviews with people we believe are at the brink of something special but have for the most part been overlooked by the mainstream media. Readers will be able to see other conversations under our TC-I Changemakers tab.

Maya AjmeraMaya Ajmera is the Founder and President of The Global Fund for Children, an organization thatGFC logo provides grants to grassroots organizations around the world that work to advance the dignity of children and youth. ThinkChange India’s Prerna Srivastava and Shital Shah spoke with Maya about GFC, her experience with children’s issues, and what it takes to be a successful social entrepreneur. Special thanks to Laura Fenton for her assistance in arranging this interview.

You can listen to the interview here:

The transcript is here: GFC Transcript

As Maya mentioned in her interview, GFC is currently in the beta phase of developing a new model for measuring social impact. We hope to follow up with her once the social metrics model is fully developed.

Interesting excerpts and relevant links are after the jump.

Some interesting excerpts from the interview with Maya Ajmera:

Thinking like a social entrepreneur: What is something that’s happening now, that’s simmering, that we don’t know, that’s going to explode in the next ten years?

On the GFC model: I think of our work as venture philanthropy at its finest. We take small amounts of money and invest it and put it in the hands of the right organizations and see how they do and stick with them for 3 to 8-9 years, however long it takes, to see them grow and become sustainable, so they don’t need our support anymore. That’s sort of a social business model, right? How do you fund something and try to exit out in a way that leaves that organization stronger?

A simple philosophy: We believe that the small is beautiful, the small is powerful, the small is efficient, and the small is really, really big.

Maya’s advice to TC-I readers: Everybody has a part in this world to do something, and my feeling is, if you don’t try, you’ll never know. My other piece is, if you try something, and it doesn’t work, that’s ok too, because you learned something from that.

But I would really tell everyone out there listening: just go for it. See what happens. You may be surprised. Like I said, it takes a combination of luck, sweat equity, financing, support from family and friends, and really, a hard belief in yourself.

Maya mentioned a variety of organizations, individuals, and books in her interview. The following links may be helpful to our readers:

  • Afghan Institute of Learning: In response to the prohibition against educating girls while the Taliban regime was in power in Afghanistan, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) created and operated secret home schools for girls who wished to continue their education. AIL recruited and trained teachers and operated schools in three Afghan cities from its headquarters in Peshawar, Pakistan. GFC’s grant to AIL helped support 44 home schools serving more than 1,350 girls in grades one through six in Herat, Kabul, and Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
  • Small is Beautiful (a book by E.F. Schumacher)
  • Magic Bus: Magic Bus empowers young people growing up in the slums and streets of India to discover their innate potential through sports. GFC’s grant supports Magic Bus’s new Connect program, which provides targeted mentoring, career guidance, vocational training, and leadership development to marginalized at-risk youth.
  • Prerana (no website): GFC’s grant to Prerana supports educational services for the children of sex workers, including a night-care center that provides them with basic information, nourishment, recreation, regular medical check-ups, counseling, and a safe place to sleep.
  • Jeeva Jyothi: the Chennai based NGO was started in 1994 to promote, protect, and advance the rights and lives of indigent section of people – children, youth, women and men in the city with primary focus on Child Labour and Street Children.
  • Chintan: Chintan promotes social and environmental justice for waste-picking communities, particularly for women and children, by helping them gain access to better education and livelihood opportunities. GFC’s grant supports the flexible education program, which provides waste-picking children with the necessary assets and opportunities to exit this hazardous sector.
  • Lisa Heydlauff: Going to School in India is a creative nonprofit media trust that creates magical media to inspire children to change their lives by going to school and Be! An Entrepreneur is a multimedia project to inspire millions of young people from underprivileged backgrounds to become entrepreneurs, to create businesses for social change.
  • Dasra: Dasra’s mission is to strengthen the effectiveness of the non profit sector through the application of best practices to maximize the investment of social investors and ensure lasting impact for the end beneficiary.
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