At F1F9 we strive to build sustainable, mutually beneficial partnerships with our suppliers, our customers and our staff. We’re in this for the long term.
In addition to donating 1 per cent of our revenue to charity every year, we look for practical ways to contribute to our community. Where possible, we buy from organisations or individuals with a social conscience.
When we set up our Delhi office in 2005, we began looking for a charity to support. Our criteria were that it should be local, educational in nature, and we needed to have complete confidence in the ethical integrity of the organisation. Asha met all of these requirements.
Asha (which means “hope” in Hindi) works with around 400,000 people in more than 50 slum colonies of Delhi, tackling all the issues that can keep slum dwellers trapped in poverty. Its programmes help slum residents gain access to healthcare, financial services and education, and make it possible for them to make long-term, positive changes to their lives.
As a small, growing, entrepreneurial company, F1F9 has limited cash to give. So we instead turned to the one resource we are rich in, namely our energy and our expertise. In late 2010, we suggested to Asha that we offer internships to their students who had made it through to university.
The following year, the first “pathfinder” group of 8 Asha students spent 6 weeks of their summer break in our Gurgaon office, 2 of which were spent with our colleagues from accounting firm Mazars. Between Mazars and ourselves we’ve subsequently hosted two more groups – last summer and the summer just gone.
In our experience the benefits have gone both ways:
- Asha students have seen what a university education can lead to. In particular they have learned the critical importance of English in the business world.
- F1F9 staff have learned that there is less difference and distance between Asha students and themselves.
Past interns have found the experience hugely valuable. One of them, Sandeep, told us how his favourite part of the internship was experiencing the co-operation within the company as well as the chance to gain so much knowledge – he missed the team when his internship was over. Chatting confidently in English, Rajeev, another ex-intern, said that he’d advise any potential interns not to think twice about taking part in the programme, as “this opportunity will open up your world”.
We’ve been excited to watch the Internship programme go from strength to strength and we were delighted to have attended Asha’s event at the British High Commission in Delhi on 25 October. The evening celebrated the achievements of the many students from Delhi’s slums who have gained a place at college with the help of Asha’s Higher Education programme. Hundreds of students from the slums are thriving at university, thanks to Asha, and the first graduates are finding jobs in the professional world. Younger slum children are now seeking to follow their example.
Our Managing Director, Kenny Whitelaw-Jones, spoke at the ceremony and said, “We believe Asha deserves much more support and resource – and we believe these hard working graduates deserve more opportunities.”
“It is an honour for F1F9 to be associated with Asha, for Asha to have trusted us as a partner, and thereby allowed us, in our own small way, to make a difference in the lives of these students.”
To find out more about Asha and the impact it is making, visit http://asha-india.org/