Impact Inspire


A lifetime of investing in the lives of others is a better way of living an impactful life, each year we discover lists of individuals with a peculiar mindset recognized and celebrated across nations for their charitable works.

Rohini Nilekani is an Indian philanthropist, who has consistently been recognized for her continued efforts in filling up vacuums in her society.

Rohini carries the billionaire’s mindset which is filled with spreading her wealth to others in a bid to build a society that she can be proud of. Her philanthropy investments cut across different areas of human needs including; health care, food, sanitation, microfinance, and education, to mention a few. Little wonder she has consistently been listed on the Forbes Asia’s list for “Heroes of Philanthropy” over the past fifteen years.

The irony of life that explains how people often think that wealth as a final destination to achievement is they fail to realize that “Wealth comes with huge responsibility and is best deployed in the larger public interest,” said Rohini.

According to one of Asia’s renowned female philanthropist, Mei Hing Chak from Southern China, what the above statement means is “that the value of life is actually not measured by the amount of wealth you possess but by the contribution you make to the society.”

Rohini is the beautiful wife of Nandan Nilekani the chairman of Infosys, and the couple has been engaged in championing philanthropic activities in the last decade all over India.

She is a journalist who has spent several years in journalism, working with India’s leading publications such as Bombay Magazine, India Today, MINT and The Times of India.

Under her journalism career, Rohini is a profound personality with various achievements to show for it. She sits on the Board of trustees of ATREE, the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, an environmental think-tank in pursuing sustainable development.

She is also on the Eminent Persons Advisory Group of the Competition Commission of India, and she served as a member of the Audit Advisory Board of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India from 2010 to 2012.

In 2017, Rohini was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

As a journalist, she understands the cries of the masses and she looks forward to meeting those needs the way she can.

She started out with giving long before she came into the spotlights as a philanthropy figure in Asia. With the little she had, she gave to the poor, less privilege and supported young girls with scholarships.

She was so crucial to her charity that she set out to create an organizational structure to channel her giving.

In 2004, Rohini and her husband experienced a major turning point in their business that led to a massive financial increase, after a concise thoughtful thinking, she was sure of what to do with her wealth.

She decided to re-brand her little foundation – Arghyam, into an organization that is concentrating on a particular goal, thereby carving a niche that is different and unique from other foundation and philanthropic movement.

Although Arghram has been in existence since 2001 but in 2005 Rohini redirected Arghyam’s focus on providing clean and portable water for the people of India. Since she was not familiar with the water sector, she took a while to study the sector and also got acquainted with its systems which enabled her to discover the best ways to leverage her resources.

Over the last six years, Arghyam has supported a large number of domestic water and sanitation projects and NGOs in 19 states. The foundation has also ventured substantial sustainable development activities in environmental sectors such as reviving traditional water bodies and rainwater harvesting. Asides the Arghyam foundation, Rohini also has other strategic charity channels that meet other human needs, which she funds with the sole aim of bettering the lives of many (if not all) in India.

Other channels of Rohini’s philanthropic endeavors include:

Pratham Books, a non-profit publishing house of children’s books cofounded in 2004. This organization has succeeded in touching the lives of millions of children by putting ‘a book in every child’s hand” which is the sole aim of the organization.

EkStep, Co-Founded in 2014 with her husband, is a non-profit educational organization that provides open learning platform targeted towards 200 million children in India between the ages of five and 10 years.

In the year 2000, Rohini also founded the Akshara Foundation – a charity organization that provides quality education for underprivileged children in Bangalore, India.

Beyond these above mention NGOs founded by Rohini, there are many more channels through which she spreads her fortune to the society.

We live in a world where there is a great imbalance between the ‘have everything’ and the ‘have-nothing’ which leads to so much discrimination among humanity.

However, there are also very few persons who want to live their lives on a continuous course of bridging such gaps.

Rohini’s greatest pursuit is to bridge the wide gap between the ‘have-everything’ and the ‘have-nothing’ in the society.

She believes that good governance starts from the people, and is the responsibility of the people to create a government of their own: “We cannot be mere consumers of good governance; we have to co-create it,” she argued.

She constantly reminds herself that she is lucky and she has a lot to do for the society.

This explains why Philanthropy is seen as a billionaire’s mindset, because all billionaires love investment, and philanthropy is investing in lives.

“The value of life is actually not measured by the amount of wealth you possess but by the contribution you make to society,” said Mei Hing Chak.

In this week’s segment of rural diamond, we will be showcasing the philanthropic activities of a compassionate humanitarian from southern China – Mei Hing Chak.

Chak was born in Guangdong province of southern China, into a humble household in one of the country’s more prosperous regions. She was raised like every normal child and was taught to live an honest and grateful lifestyle.

She grew up with the belief that “The value of life is not measured by the amount of wealth you possess but by the contribution you make to society”, and with this Chak has spent the better years of her life and wealth showing compassion to vulnerable people in her country.

A self – made businesswoman whose strides and successes in commerce and philanthropy are exceptional, she veered into the field of business after her high school education, instead of choosing the path to a college education, and she has never had a moment of regret about her that choice. Chak took a little loan from her mother to start up her own small garment business, though very small at the time, the business blossomed providing valuable opportunity to gain expertise, which inspired her to delve into other fields including the furniture industry.

Intelligent and resourceful, in business management, one profound scenario played as a major milestone to her company’s growth, Chak left the comfort of her home to live in the factory with her employees in order to follow her organization closely and save cost. This spectacular decision caused a huge increase in the company’s expansions, placing it among the largest furniture logistics enterprises in China. Enlightened by the growth potentials of her company, Chak also gained an insight into the lives of the ordinary people.

Motivated by her concern about the society, she dedicated her resource to meet various needs of the society by donating her money, time and resources to charitable causes. In the hopes that philanthropy will become a social custom in China, Chak company, the Heungkong Group established and funded the Heungkong Charitable Foundation, China’s first national-level foundation founded by the private sector, in 2005.

Through Heungkong Charitable Foundation Chak has been able to meet different needs in 18 provinces and cities in China. The foundation is committed to providing assistance in areas of education, poverty alleviation, and rescue and disaster relief.  It has steadfastly helped people in need and explored the way to sustainable development.

This unique character of Chak has given her a name amongst other Chinese women, as the Country’s first lady of philanthropy. She also received the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in recognition of her philanthropic work but most importantly following the foundation’s “Five 1000” program; to build 1,000 libraries, helping 1,000 disadvantaged students, and leading 1,000 activities manned by volunteers, a major act that has rescued many underprivileged children in China from a lifetime of illiteracy.

She became the first Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy recipient in mainland China and the second Chinese recipient following Li Ka-Shing.

The award is a good definition of “giving honor to whom honor is due” following her rigorous impact in giving hope to many hopeless people in China.

Chak has other plans to meet numerous societal needs and she seems to be taking them one at a time.

A life of success is not termed an achievement until impact is made. Impact is to meet the needs of others directly or indirectly, it is to benefit others through your success and also to positively affect the life of others through your journey in life.
While a number of people are aware of this phenomenon, a large number have left this ideology behind. Speaking of those who are fully aware of this great advantage, let’s consider Leila Janah who is a sun setting on some rural parts of the world.
Janah is the daughter of Indian immigrants who left Mumbai in the late 70’s to the United States in search of a greener pasture. Her parents were learned and had no intentions for education in the states but to raise their standard of living which was a priority.
On getting to US they had their first child Leila on the ninth of October 1982 in Lewiston, New York, near Niagara Falls. Janah was raised in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California in a poor family; she had an unpleasant growing up based on the financial crisis her family suffered at that time.
Her mom who is half-Belgian had a degree in English literature before leaving Mumbai, her father studied engineering but both their certificates were not recognized which led them to struggle for their living.
Janah had to babysit and do other jobs including tutoring to earn a living as a teenager, however through it all she was determined and focused to make life perfect for herself; though she encountered difficulty in climbing the ladder to success but over time she made it.
During her years of struggles, she won a scholarship while schooling at the California Academy of Mathematics, at that time she was 17, the scholarship came through the American Field Services, but Janah desired to spend her scholarship years in Ghana she tried convincing them to allow her spend it teaching in Ghana. She was granted her request and she moved to Ghana where she spent 6 months during her senior year of high school.
While in Ghana, Janah helped tutor young students in the village of Akuapem English language because she had gathered a very practical experience in teaching, which was one of the jobs she did to earn a living back in the United States.
Many of the children whom she taught were disabled in their sight but her experience in Ghana left a mark in her. The teaching experiences in Ghana left her with a burning desire to work for the poorest society in Africa, and many other under-privileged parts of the world.
At this point her humanitarian journey had begun to bear foot print unconsciously. Leila began a continued visit to Africa during her college days.
Grace continued to shine on her and she received admission to study African Development Studies in Harvard University, graduating in 2005. With so much enthusiasm for Africa, she conducted a fieldwork in Mozambique, Senegal and Rwanda while studying in Havard. She consulted to and authored papers for the World Bank’s Development Research Group and Ashoka on social and economic rights.
After graduating from Harvard, she got a job to work as a management consultant with Katzenbach Partners. The job brought a major turning point in her life that established her dreams.
The nature of her job was for her to pay attention to healthcare, mobile and outsourcing companies. While in Katzenbach, she was given a major assignment that opened a link for her to her motherland. The assignment entails managing a call center in Mumbai. She moved to India to begin her assignment when she met a young man who traveled each day by rickshaw from Dharavi, one of the largest slums in South Asia, to work at the center. The situation caught her attention and having to remember her experience in Ghana, she was inspired to proffer a solution.
While thinking of a suitable solution, she resigned from Katzenbach Partners in 2007 to become a visiting scholar at Stanford University with the Program on Global Justice, founded by law professor Joshua Cohen.
She won a business-plan competition at Stanford of $14,000, with that, she already had a solution to the problem of poverty.
She took the money and launched out to establish Samasource (Sama is Sanskrit for “equal”) in 2008. Samasource is a non-profit business with the aim to meet the needs of poor individuals and reduce global poverty through job provision. It involves sourcing people in Africa and Asia to perform digital tasks for companies like Google and LinkedIn. Ever since the inception of Samasource, it has been a huge success, imparting the lives of over 32,265 people.

However, there was a need to enlighten the people, so in 2013, she established Samaschool, a learning arm of Samasource that provides digital skills training and a connection to internet-based jobs that pay a living wage.
In 2012, Janah went on to launch Samahope; a platform that directly sponsors the medical treatments for women and children in poor communities. Samahope is the first of its kind and is in partnership with Johnson & Johnson’s new global health platform, Caring Crowd, at the end of 2015.
Based on her humanitarian service and philanthropic works, she has been recognized and honored in many ways including being the Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, recipient of the inaugural Club de Madrid Young Leadership Award.
Janah is also the co-founder of LXMI, luxury skin care brand, a business that proffers beauty and skin solutions. In 2014, she received a Heinz Award being, the only young person amongst the nominees, and many other honors and awards.

Topics on domestic violence as one of the major challenges women are faced in the world today, has taken center stage in women conferences and meetings. Governments of the world have begun to push legislative actions geared towards protecting women. In the midst of all the drama regarding women’s right and advocacy, philanthropist like Indrani Goradia, have laid out all they have, money, time and energy to eradicate the abuse which greatly affects most women and girls.

Indrani Goradia is a survivor of domestic violence from Trinidad and Tobago, and of Indian descent where gender-based violence is not taken seriously and victims are afraid to speak out even though they are dire need of help. She had suffered from the menace as a child and young adult, but has chosen to spend the rest of her championing the crusade against the abused girls and women, while catering for victims of such a circumstance in several countries around the world.

Growing up in Trinidad, Indrani was one of the bright students at her school. She loved learning and in like manner excelled academically. At home, she suffered the pains of being abused and would turn to her books enjoy temporary happiness- this was her only method of escaping the pain she felt as a child.

These childhood experiences lived with her for many years even as she turns into an adult. But they also triggered the awakening of her inner philanthropic desire- to meet the need of women or children experiencing abuse.

After an unpleasant childhood experience in Trinidad, she left Asia for New York City where she completed her formal education attending Queens College and Kent State University.

Indrani was diagnosed with depression at the age of fifty (50), but despite the diagnosis, she created a solution for herself and others.

In the midst of the darkness she made light, she decided to turn the depression into determination tilted towards rescuing others out of violence related problems.

As part of efforts to get her life back on track, she signed up for the Olympic distance triathlon which entails learning how to swim. Indrani did very well in the game and  this earned a medal.

At that point, she began to perceive life from a different perspective and her life constantly underwent healing. This testimony was Indrani’s zeal to reach all girls and women all over the world who are imprisoned with the stigmas of domestic violence, giving them an opportunity of a renewed life out of the gloom.

She took a step further by partnering with the global health organization, Population Services International (PSI), a leading global health organization involved with tackling malaria, child survival, HIV, reproductive health, gender-based violence, and non-communicable disease. She also partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2013 to accomplish what she desires for the lives of girls and women.

She once committed $5 million to PSI to end gender-based violence in India and Trinidad & Tobago.

Indrani got so involved with the PSI mission that she became part of the Founding Member of Maverick Collective, a philanthropic arm of PSI that advocates for the eradication of extreme poverty by investing in girls and women.

A year after she joined these organisations, she launched the Indrani’s Light Foundation in partnership with PSI to improve the health and rights of girls and women and eradicate gender-based violence all over the world.

The foundation started with tackling the problem within her diaspora community in Houston, Texas before expanding to several other places.

Currently, Indrani’s Light Foundation has succeeded in addressing gender-based violence in the United States, India, and Trinidad (Indrani’s home country) since its inception in 2014.

Through her foundation, many women have been encouraged to live meaningful lives free of abuse and violence.

Indrani is  an expert speaker on violence against women, she has consistently addressed the United Nations and TEDx in such matters, while proffering solutions towards tackling the problem – a case in point is the “Orange the World” campaign.


She engages in global discussions with prominent and influential leaders and inspires worldwide donors to support GBV.

Indrani is a pacesetter whose work with the PSI has been copied and used as an example for other advanced projects. She has helped in leveraging future government funding and has changed the normal way of health services and products are delivery.

She is a happy wife, mother, and leader.



Source: Staff Writer

By Miracle Nwankwo

Two years ago Nepal was consumed by a disastrous earthquake that claimed the lives of nearly 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000.

The earthquake caused a lot of damages that led to new beginnings for many individuals.

But in a little place in Kathmandu of Nepal existed a beautiful home called the Butterfly Home, a home for peculiar kind of children whose parents have been held bound behind the four walls of Nepal prison yards. They were picked up from these prisons away from their inmate parent to this home.

The owner of this home is a young Nepali social worker Pushpa Basnet founder of the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) the academic arm of the foundation.

Pushpa was still an undergraduate when the burden to establish a home for the children of prisoners which she often met during her social work service to the prison yards, filled her heart.

Even when her world came crashing after the disastrous earthquake that consumed Nepal, Pushpa refused to let go because she had nurtured these children as her own and having to end the journey of a lifetime humanitarian service was a no way for her.

Having carried these children away from their biological parents with a promise to give them a hope, she has dedicated her life to a successful future for them.

Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) is a non-profit organization, for children of prisoners, giving them quality education and a normal childhood outside the four walls of the prison and is located in Kathmandu, Nepal.

As a social worker, Pushpa visited a lot of prison yards during her undergraduate years and was shocked to discover that many children grow up behind bars with their imprisoned parents.

At the sight of the children, she was always heartbroken and she thought of any solution to help in any way she could.

Pushpa was only 21 when she raised money and launched Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) in 2005, providing daycare program for children.

However it was still not enough, the children needed a home so that they could erase the shambled ideologies about life that was created as result of their parent’s imprisonment and having to grow up around that predicament.

By 2007, she established a residential home for the children to live outside the prison and under her care.

She became the savior of many convicts in Nepali prison who would now rest safely knowing that their children are safe and in the care of a loving heart.

The Early Childhood Development Center rescues both children behind bars throughout urban and rural regions.

Pushpa also ensures that the children go to visit their parents during holidays because she is also concerned about the relationship between the children and their parents.

While she thought about the children she was also thinking of ways to engage their parents, then in 2009, she came up with an amazing programme for these inmate parents. The programme was under the sponsorship of ChangeFusion Nepal and entails coaching the parents to make handicrafts inside the cell.

The core aim of her initiative is to make the female prisoners and also former inmates to be involved in income generating activities that will enable them to sustain their livelihood and contribute towards raising their children.

For many Nepali convicts, they feel indebted to this human savior who has not only brought them hope but has also succeeded in making life worth living.

On this account, her effort has been hugely recognized and commended both in Nepal and outside the country, she has also received supports as well as fund-raise from local and international organizations.

Pushpa received the CNN Hero Award for 2012 and in 2016.

Eleanor Pinugu is an education hero from Manila in Philippine, whose humanitarian path was affected by an incident that happened at a point in her life.

She is the co-founder and owner of Mano Amiga (which means “Helping Hand”) an affordable K to 12 schools with international standards which started in Zomeyucan, Mexico in 1963 providing scholarships and sustainable livelihood for the poor.

Mano Amiga Academy has over 30 schools distributed around seven countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico & Venezuela), with more than 17,000 students and parents undergoing formation.

The mission of the school is ached with a burden to empower low-income families to break out of poverty.

However, the vision of the school for the Filipino branch started long ago in the heart of a young lady called Eleanor Pinugu during her junior year in college at the Ateneo de Manila University.

She was born with a silver spoon but suddenly her world began to crash when her mother lost her job and the family was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Then the picture of an uncertain future became clear to Eleanor, it suddenly dawned on her that she had been on the palms of grace having been born into a rich family. At that time, she was a regular paying student taking up AB Interdisciplinary Studies and majored in Journalism and Sociology. 

Fortunately, she came in contact with an essay competition where the prize was a scholarship. She took the competition and won the prize.

Having escaped her predicament, she knew she needed to extend a hand to many children who were faced with difficulties that could cripple their academic desires.

Losing her luxurious background was a major turning point in her life which led her to bear the burden of meeting the needs of others who never had the opportunity of education or who like herself had lost their grounds some point. She then began to make plans to reach out to those in the rural communities and give them the opportunity and access to quality education

Her dream did not begin to bear fruits until years after her graduation while serving as a youth missionary in Mexico, where she visited Mano Amiga Academy; a school for poor children.


Every woman is a rare gem, every woman is special, and every woman has something to offer to her society, it all depends on her (personal) determination and her belief.

Does she see herself as incompetent, unqualified, impotent, and unfitted? Or does she considers herself as perfect, able, skilled, gifted, and available irrespective of background or circumstances that may be standing as a stumbling block?

Ghulam Sughra Solangi, a light to the women community of Pakistan was born on March 2, 1970, in a little village called Muhammad Arab Solangi, somewhere in Pakistan.

Although her father Muhib Ali was a teacher in a government school, Solangi did not have access to schooling based on the local traditional belief that bans females from seeking for education.

She wanted to school, she held a strong attraction for education but she was bound by laws which she could not break free from.

At age 12, she was married off to a man who abandoned her when she was 20 with two children because he found her unattractive and unlearned. After her divorce she had to begin life all over, it was tough and very challenging moving back to her parent’s house with her children. She faced shame and depression, was mocked and close to committing suicide.


She thought about a way to escape the misery was education was her best solution. Often times she tried to shut out the thoughts of seeing the impossibilities that surrounded it, but they kept coming because her love for books was stronger than what she could conquer.

She was beaten several times by her brothers who frowned at her idea of going to school but Solangi was persistent, she couldn’t let go because love had taken her away ー the love for education.

Finally, Solangi won the battle when her brothers gave up on the fight to allow her to fulfill her wish. She began studying on her own, and eventually, one of her brothers came forward and allowed an older cousin to help her. The road to success is never a smooth ride, there were obstacles and potholes, people ridiculed and humiliated her but she didn’t lose heart.

She engaged herself in embroidery making and worked every day until late in the evening, through embroidery she was able to sustain herself and her kids.

After four years, of personal studying, she passed the matriculation exam and decided to leave her father’s house to be on her own and pursue education, she succeeded in obtaining a bachelor’s degree with so much enthusiast and confidence in her, becoming the first female high school graduate.

Her journey to the destination of recognition and reward for her struggles started when she was appointed as a teacher in the first school for girls in her village, but there was a huge problem. She was the first teacher in the school but there were no girls to tutor because parent refused to send their female children to school based on some cultural reasons and lack of money.

The quest for a solution was Solangi’s headache. She sought for ways to change the situation for the better and discovered that the major problem centered on the fact that the women in her society were highly restricted from participating in family decision making.

It is obvious that gender inequality has an upper hand in the world because men occupy the higher positions of authority, so to cure gender inequality is to raise the standard of women.

This idea became Solangi’s perfect solution. She stepped out to invest in the lives of the women by elevating their statuses within the household to enable them to contribute as key players in their families’ economic well-being.

She knew that if she was able to achieve this, the women would have authority within their homes to send their daughters and even their sons to school.

She started out by trying to convince the women and also men to release their girl-child to the western education. She also enlightened them on the benefits that are attached to such a decision. As expected it was not a win-win situation because she was an exposed divorcee and not a good example for their female children, for they also thought that she might teach their children to run away from their homes. But she didn’t give up and before long, there was a turn up, but not enough to satisfy Solangi’s hunger to educate all the female children in her community.

A terror flood hit the community in 1992, and destroyed so much that the villagers had to start their lives all over again. With help of her family, she gathered relief items which were used to reach out to the villagers.

At this point, she realized that she had to tackle the problem from its root which was to raise the standard of living of the women by a fund-generating means.

She spoke to the village women about her idea to create an association called Marvi Rural Development Organization (MRDO). The organization was involved with taking up the welfare of rural women and making them aware of their fundamental rights. Almost everyone was against her idea including her brothers but her ambition was strong and she was able to achieve her desires. She gathered like-minded members who worked with her in forming savings groups and increasing the women’s awareness about education, health, human rights, and social development.

They pursued partnerships with organisations like ILO and OXFAM to sponsor their micro credit initiatives and they also sought for capacity building training from renowned organisations.

With conscious efforts, she built the organization responding to women in various communities especially those in remote areas and currently, MRDO serves over 30 households in Pakistan.

She also collaborated with government department and engaged various means to provide health care and other services to the entire communities.


Solangi has excelled in touching the lives of many and giving back to humanity in progress.