Dasra- Fortifier of Deeds
Deval Sanghavi was born to India parents in the States, and Neera, to Indian parents, in Canada. India was a distant cousin to them growing up; rooted with their relatives there, but living the American Dream. After college both went on to work on Wall Street, in Investment Banking and Mergers and Acquisitions. Deval was dealing with venture capital funds, seeing what could be done with strategic investments, and seeing some make significant financial returns.
But there was something nagging, and it was the question of how to apply venture capital thinking to the social sector, in India. The question only got louder with time and led Deval to return to India to set up a social capital investment fund, one of the first of its kind in India, mostly backed by wealthy Indians in the USA.
Overtime though Deval realised that the money which organisations received was only a small part of what was valuable about their offering. The coaching and human resource development components were equally valued. And so emerged Dasra, an organisation Deval co-founded with his wife Neera.
‘Dasra means ‘doing wonderful deeds’ in Sanskrit, explained Deval. ‘You have so much funds going into the non-profit sector, but very few organisations are built to provide hands on assistance to these organisations. In end, it is human resources which really run an organisation, and if you can strengthen human resources you can make a lasting impact in the sector. Our role basically is to help the organisations think about their work in a more effective manner’.
Dasra bring management and field staff together to help improve the way they work, communicate and strategise. They also work with donors to help them understand the needs of the beneficiary organisations more clearly and make use of the reports and information which is generated within the field. ‘The information is there it is just not used properly’, said Deval, in an exasperated tone’. Dasra though aim to bridge the gap- between donor, organisations, communities and beneficiaries.
Given the fact that it was one of Dasra’s clients who recommended that I speak with Deval, I took it as a solid reference for the strength of their work.
I didn’t get a chance to meet up with Neera on this occasion. She is heavily pregnant, with twins, and was otherwise occupied. I wish both Neera and Deval well in the coming weeks as their family expands!