Manjari Foundation: Sowing Seeds of Strength to Empower Rural Women
The strings that bind human hearts with warmth and affection is readily provided by Manjari to all the women from marginalised communities, who have ever approached for support and direction. These women especially come with immense hope in their hearts, looking forward to making their lives secure in every which way - somehow. This provider was none other than a woman empowering foundation called Manjari based in the interiors of the rural backdrop. It is founded by a gentleman from an urban backdrop but resolved to support rural womenfolk, especially marginalised, readily situating himself in the heart of rural locales.
Manjari Foundation is headquartered in Dholpur district of Rajasthan, where the Founder and CEO, Mr. Sanjay Sharma, is currently based and heads operations from. He came from a secure city life with technical degree in hand where he could easily move to foreign lands to make a living. He made other kind of choices however. Instead, he found it heart-warming to do the act of binding individuals and communities, inside villages of Rajasthan, where women especially are struggling in their day-to-day chores, trying very hard to make their ends meet. This is how Manjari Foundation was established in the year 2015 in the poverty pockets of Rajasthan and Bundelkhand.
Apart from the districts from Rajasthan and Bundelkhand, the foundation is also helping districts of Rudrapur in Uttarakhand, participating in initiatives of CSR. However, this is not enough, the cross-cultural boundaries are dissolved by Manjari Foundation while establishing connections with countries of West Africa that include Mali and Senegal. The different spheres that the foundation is dedicated to work are the development of women's Institution Building at grassroots level. Results can be naturally noticed in all the areas that would include education, livelihood development, rural healthcare program, micro-enterprise and youth development program.
Manjari Foundation is all about women empowerment. It closely works with marginalised women, especially those belonging to the rural communities. Being the people-centric foundation, Manjari is leading the change in order to generate the changemakers from within the communities that it is working with. It brings social justice and equality with a view to sustain continuous transformation amongst women. It helps bring trust and dignity on the one hand while generating funds, importantly, on the other. Mr. Sharma, the founder himself speaks too humbly about his magnanimous gesture of helping the women realise so much in their daily lives.
Challenges are too many for any kind of organisation but our changemaker Mr. Sanjay Sharma’s first challenge started with convincing his own family about the choices that was going to make towards his profession. Once his immediate environment was convinced, he states that half the battle is won already. Next, on the community level, there is a different kind of challenge. It is quite a challenging task for them to even allow organisations like Manjari to enter their communities. “You spend time with them…” is the key to win over the hearts of the rural folks so that they will eventually allow activities to be implemented around them.
Collaborations works very well for any foundation as it is people centric at the end of the day.“Without partnerships, we cannot survive…[ especially when] not-for-profit organisations are not there to earn profits, says Sanjay Sharma.”
Challenge is not so huge for keeping a consistent flow of funds since the mission of the organisation is clear. “You don’t have to keep knocking on the doors of donors,” says the confident changemaker but the focussed approach and a clear mission of the foundation activities inspires donors and supporters towards help. Since the commitment of Manjari Foundation is involved at various levels, it lends support to government in implementation of programs. Moreover, Mr. Sharma stated that the foundation does not take any financial support of the government either. “We would rather that the funds of the government goes directly to the individuals rather than any organisation doing the same.”
Interestingly, Mr. Sharma sees a challenge on funds never being provided for in-house organisational training. “It is very tough to find supporters who are willing to fund you for your organization’s skill-building and training of resources,” he said. The capacity building of non-profit organisations remains a challenge, therefore. Not only a short duration challenge but a constant struggle to have an organisation that is trained constantly in the internal side.
As a CEO who is responsible for scaling up the organisation and taking it to the next level, the African collaboration became the most interesting collaboration according to Mr Sharma. The West African countries of Senegal and Mali are collaborating with his teams on a knowledge-sharing basis. These countries actually searched Manjari Foundation on the Internet and approached the organisation three years ago, very eager to replicate Manjari’s model in their own villages.
It has been a delightful experience for the women from both sides of the border to interact and learn from each other – even though they are clueless about each other’s’ language. It is very motivating and a major source of inspiration how women connect and learn from each other during the exchange programs conducted. It allows women to visit and learn from each other’s communities on their visit to the International lands.
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