The Bodhi Tree, co-founded by Deepti Natarajan Iyer, works with CSR projects, high-net-worth individuals, business entities, and students to assist them to give back in terms of cash, time, and expertise.
Deepti joined Infosys as a software engineer at the age of 22. But she soon realised that her heart wasn’t in the traditional path. She longed to work with others and make a difference in people’s lives.
She aspired to work with others and make a difference in people’s lives.
“I quit my job and started my career as a corporate trainer. Along with my mother, I also ran a call centre and a career-readiness training centre. I felt I was headed in the right direction,” she tells HerStory.
At the NGO Enable India, she had the chance to instruct visually impaired people in English and soft skills. As a project manager, she now oversees employment, workplace improvements, and services for the blind. She moved on to the Head Held High Foundation to oversee fundraising, corporate volunteering, and collaborations after making a solid step in the social impact industry.
Her subsequent position was as director of CSR for the CIPLA Foundation in Bengaluru. Deepti and her co-founder and friend Shravan Shetty continued to discuss the shortcomings in the social sector throughout this period. Shravan has a wealth of knowledge in the social field.
“The funders are all on one side, the NGOs on the other, and the beneficiaries form the third side. The sector can be very disjointed, and we wanted to bring them all together under the same umbrella,” she tells Yourstory.
The Bodhi Tree, a philanthropic advisory and capacity-building organization, was born as a result in December 2021. It works with Programs and initiatives, wealthy people, businesses, and students to support their efforts to donate time, money, and talents. In essence, it is a communal experience that is advantageous to everyone.
The HELPS Collective, which focuses on children’s health, education, lifestyle, and security, is operated by the Bodhi Tree.
She makes the point that while each NGO may have a distinct focus—such as science education, livelihood training, or health—a child needs all of these.
She tells Yourstory that during her earlier employment in the social sector, she became aware of the fact that while certain schools benefited from health initiatives, nothing was being done to advance education. The opposite was also true—a tonne of scientific kits were donated, but little effort was made huge comprehend child starvation or children dropping out of school due to a lack of clean restrooms.
The Bodhi Tree maintains “the child in the centre and builds a framework around her needs” as part of this endeavour.
The foundation then recruits various partners for the HELPS initiative and makes sure it has the necessary funding to move forward. In Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra, The Bodhi Tree works with children from slums, public schools, low-income families, shelter homes, and people with disabilities. According to Deepti, it’s critical to recognize various demands.
She explains to Yourstory, “A child with disabilities faces a distinct set of challenges than children from low-income families or children living in shelters. We present the donors with these various demands and inform them of how they might support various programs for various sections while always keeping the child at the forefront.”
It collaborates with the Mewar Collective, an NGO in Rajasthan that employs local women to create sanitary pads made of banana fibre. Additionally, it has teamed up with Deskit to offer foldable study desks to students who lack study tables in their homes or schools.
The Bodhi Tree has started financial literacy programs for women in the slums of Chennai’s outskirts, Perumbakkam and Kannagi Nagar.
“Around 25,000 families were moved by the government from the city to the suburbs causing a displacement. Twenty-five to 50 km away from the city, these places provided little scope for employment. The women, however, were enterprising and took up jobs in nearby IT parks, or as house help. However, they requested us to help them manage their finances,” Deepti tells Yourstory.
The Bodhi Tree established a comprehensive financial literacy program in collaboration with The Freedom Foundation that allowed these women to join the Sukanya Samriddhi, obtained PAN and Aadhaar cards for them, and provided them with guidance and advice on making small investments.
The organization’s day-to-day operations follow a not-for-profit business model, but it’s LLP setup charges for programmes planned for students or corporate personnel.
By assisting people in aligning with initiatives or issues they are enthusiastic about, CSR funds and HNIs provide funding.
Deepti considers the siloed nature of the NGO sector to be a significant obstacle. Partnerships, she continues, can alter the situation.