We learned the trade by developing website for Swasthya Swaraj. We have a mission To Deliver Value to Society. Now, we need another customer and to step up our offering to “end to end” website development. We have to Design, build Content and do whatever else is required for a website.
Grandmother of my daughter’ s best buddy Judith, runs an NGO with her friends in Nedumavu, a sleepy village in Kottayam, Kerala. Sosamma Aunty is also mother of Manju, one of my long-time friend and neighbour in Bangalore and mother-in-law of Salil’s classmate Aneesh, with whom he shares a special friendship.
Whenever she visits Manju she talks about her NGO, Navakarma, its work and its beneficiaries. We had never done anything for Navakarma or probably nothing much to any other charitable organizations for a long time. Swasthya Swaraj was the only exception and the association with Sr. Dr. Aquinas Edassery and her team’s work created a paradigm shift in us. We got answers to questions like whom to work? what to work? and how to work? Building a website for Navakarma for free will match the answers of above questions and can fulfil what we rightly owe to Sosamma aunty and society.
Salil spoke to Aneesh and Manju about this few times. But they were sceptical since this work may take up much of our time. Our time should be used for setting up our firm instead. We explained to them the what is in it for us? to have Navakarma as our second customer. We need to utilize our time while settling down in Kottayam. The construction of the first floor to our house is in progress. We need to sharpen our skills on building a website end to end and building our credentials around our mission To Deliver Value to Society. Finally Manju is going to pay for the domain and web-hosting charges to the respective service providers year on year. We charge the annual maintenance charges for Navakarma website to Aneesh / Manju, of course with the NGO discounts.
When Manju spoke to her mother about Navakarma having a website, Sosamma aunty was OK as long as it is not taking anything away from Navakarma’ s coffers. According to her Navakarma’s money is the poor man’s money.
Making of Navakarma website was altogether a different affair than Swasthya Swaraj. Salil and me visited Navakarma office while they were doing the sorting of their monthly essential kits for beneficiaries. It was a medium sized room set up on few concrete pillars. The plot in which the building is situated is a few meters below the road. In front of the building they had their Mahindra Thar parked. Behind the building, there is a well on which the donor’s name is prominently written.
The room had sacks of different sizes with groceries, rice, oil, tapioca and many other edible and non-edible stuff. There was also a digital weighing machine at the front left corner of the room. One young chap was watching the reading so carefully as if the readings are too small to read. Then, there were around 15 sixty something ladies and a few gentlemen moving around and talking at varying decibels.
It took a while for us to understand what they were doing. They were packing lentils in multiples of 250gms in transparent plastic covers and weighing each one of them to ensure the exact weight. Salil privately asked me “Why are they wasting time? Are they obsessive with weights?”. They could have gone by volume instead. All they have to do is to find the volume of 250 grams of each item and go with its multiples and there will be only an error of +/- 5 grams. Salil could not resist speaking about this aloud. Sosamma aunty looked at him, smiled and replied that they are taking vouchers from the beneficiaries. So, they need exact weights.
We got freshly brewed black coffee at 11:00 AM and a lavish potluck at 1:00 PM. Till then, I could not see much of charity there except the sorting and the bubbly grandmothers either pocking each other or talking about their grandchildren & children and the gentlemen smiling & nodding their heads on each remark.
After lunch, started the business. Extensive reports on activities and finances of last month were read out and approved. Then, they discussed about what they saw in the houses of prospective beneficiaries and decided on who all to be considered as beneficiaries. All these transactions were exact and complete. I would say that the attention to details are as meticulous as their dealings with weights. We have a video on this and it is a must see for all of us in business on how to use public and private money; assess people and their circumstances and to be fair to our fellow beings and to deliver value to society.
Before they started the second round of sorting, we returned back to our home. Then we had 3 more sessions with Navakarma. Sosamma aunty always comes for these sessions with a team and with different types of confectioneries for the kids. We wanted her to reduce the number in both fronts, but she couldn’t, as they always do in abundance, whether it is house visit or giving away. She never questioned our design or content of website. But, always insisted to give due importance to all the patrons of Navakarma; to represent all the well-wishers either through photos or text. Above all, she wanted to project Navakarma as a team, not as herself or founders or its major stake holders.
We handed over website www.navakarma.in on 23rd Oct, 2015, the day we opened our shop. Navakarma formally launched their website on 22nd Dec, 2015. I got an opportunity to speak in the meeting. I spoke most of what I mentioned above in the three minutes. Navakarma gave the annual maintenance contract of their website to For A Good Start. We do it for a price as we have costs. Of course, the price is discounted. Also, our service offers lots of value over the price.
Experiences with Navakarma and Swasthya Swaraj were different. We never saw the stakeholders of Swasthya Swaraj while entire Navakarma was with us. But our feelings are all the same; learnings are also more or less the same. The ethics and values which many institutions and individuals preach, we saw our two customers practice to its perfection, be it compassion, fairness or empowerment.
In summary, the associations with those who deliver value to society are our opportunities to deliver value to society.
– Shalini Annie Zacharia