Swati Bhondia, founder and chief decorating officer of Bangalore-based social venture Om Shanti Trader supports 1,000 poor and underprivileged individuals to improve their livesThree years ago, Swati Bhondia was on her way to a Bangalore college to seek admission to BBM course. A ragamuffin girl accosted the teenager and asked for alms.
not wish to give her alms; I wanted to help her. I took her along with me. This 10-year-old inspired me into thinking and doing something for similar children on the streets. I realized that social venture could be the only way out,” says Swati.Now 21, Swati has unlocked the potential of enterprise to help those on the margins of the society to partake in profits. The founder and chief decorating officer of Bangalore-based social venture Om Shanti Traders has been selected for the Base of the Pyramid market-entry challenge at Colombia.Om Shanti Traders is a social, sustainable venture supporting at least 1,000 individuals from the poor and underprivileged sections to improve their lifestyle and, thus, reduce the economic gap between the various layers of the society.Swati identifies individuals on the streets, trains them in arts and crafts, employs them and helps them to create a livelihood for themselves by selling their creations to corporate and individual households.The profit is shared with the employee families and a portion will go to the employee welfare corpus. Swati and her team ensure the children of the employee family compulsorily go to school.
Swati says the ultimate objective of the venture is to collapse the gap between the various layers of the society. She has started the training division of Om Shanti Traders called ‘Focus’ which concentrates on developing entrepreneurs and creating self-help groups. Under this, she and other expert trainers visit schools and colleges, provide training on entrepreneurship and support them with initial microfunding.Rural Indian women are trained to become microentrepreneurs or to start SHGs where they will get a continuous mentoring.Daughter of an industrialist from Jharsuguda in Odisha, Swati is today a big name in social enterprise. Now pursuing her MBA course, she gives lectures at IIM-B on social ventures.She is the only Indian businesswoman to have made it to the BoP, which is being organized by the University of Colombia in association with United Nation’s Principles for Responsible Management Education Secretariat. She will be seeking to reinforce the performance of small companies that provide products and services to the base of the pyramid markets as a free-of-cost service meant to create social impact in Colombian city of Bogota from July 13 to 19.
She trained us, we feel so proud now’Rani (name changed), who spurred Swati Bondia’s social venture and was the first beneficiary, is now attending a government school in Banashankari. Her father Deepu, 38, a migrant from Rajasthan, had pushed his daughter into begging when she ran into Swati Bondia three years ago”Swati madam has done an angelic turn for us. We are a family of five and all of us now eke out our livelihood by selling art and handicrafts we make. She trained us. We feel so proud now that we need not stretch our palms before anyone for begging,” said Deepu, who nows lives in a rented house and dreams of providing good education to his two children.