Monce Abraham

Archive for the ‘CSR’ Category

Hey – Share my Dabba, will you?!

In Branding, Building Culture, Buzz Marketing, CSR, Management, Marketing, Purpose, Strategy on May 11, 2013 at 21:59


Back in 2010, seemingly bored with lack of things to like on Facebook (no sarcasm there!) and with restless energy abound, I used to volunteer with non-profits on the weekends. More than a feel-good feeling, there was this sense of working on real problems within constraints and trying to come up with effective solutions which could help make us some headway, regardless of the constraints.

Restlessness was such that one time even when I was working full time with an NGO back in 2010, India Sponsor Foundation (ISF) – a Mother NGO funding grassroot NGOs, I also got ‘volunteering’ (Saturdays) with 1 of the 7 Partner organizations we were then funding. Now when I look back at it, it was like 5 days of work which I was committed to do, and then volunteering to put in a few more hours on the weekend with the 1 organization where I saw greater potential for change (compared to the other NGOs whom we were funding) – Thankfully they worked on Saturdays too and were able to accommodate me.


Later when I moved on from the NGO, I moved on from volunteering at the partner organization too.
Back on Facebook and spending countless productive hours surfing the pages (no sarcasm again!), I was introduced to an initiative where a group of young guys would gather together at one place, get good fresh food in bulk from one of the nearby Dhabas and then share the food with the less privileged. This sounded cool, and I decided to join in for the same.

Given the initiative aimed to share food including Khamiri Roti and Mutton Korma, it was sure to be the ‘One great meal’ of the week for the guys whom the initiative aimed to provide for. The initiative was not targeting the same people again and again, and was open to anyone (kids, women, men – young/old/differently abled) who did not have access to such food, but happened to be in the vicinity on that day.

We did this for a few weeks, and later when I happened to meet Mrs. Lekha Srivastava, Exec Director, ISF around that time, I mentioned that there was this initiative being undertaken by a few guys where we bought food in bulk and then gave it away. The first question she asked me was “Why are you paying for this? You should be tying up with the eateries so that you can help route/ distribute the excess food which remains, to the needy!”


For some reason, the question stayed with me, and the point came up repeatedly if and when I would be catching up with someone in the Hospitality industry, and the topic of excess food came up. Some of the points which came up from such discussions:

  1.  A single day’s leftover food from one five star hotel in a Metro is sufficient enough to feed at least 300 people – This was a statement from someone who was in the Hospitality industry and working with 5 star hotels!
  2. No hotel ever gives away leftover food for charity because of hygiene and safety being a major issue. It is straight away incinerated or dumped at common dumping places.
  3. When thinking across different food categories (Milk products are best avoided given out) and exploring possibilities wherein whether it was possible for the hotels have a partnership/ tie-up with other social organizations to take care of this, and wherein this network could then ensure that food reaches them in the right condition; the feedback was that it was not easy at all to keep this quantity of food safe till midnight or the next day.
  4. There are concerns around the food being delivered in the right condition, state and time. There was very much a possibility that it could make the hungry kids sick.
  5. There was the concern that some people might misuse this, and also look at it as a means to make money. So hotels try and play safe by not giving anyone a chance to say anything which might go against them.
  6. The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), which is into a lot of charitable deeds and events could help take such ideas forward – it all had to be coordinated though.


Now, from a consumer point of view, we have all had instances wherein we have consumed stuff over a couple of days (provided we keep them simply refrigerated until further use), and lived to tell the tale.

All said and done, every once in a while this would pop into my mind when I would be sitting in Cafe’s looking at the processed food, and wondering to self how much more time there was before one would have to dispose them off. Trying to think from putting yourself into the shoes of an entrepreneur who might be in the Hospitality Sector didn’t help things much either! This was until yesterday, when I tripped on this interesting video which seems to be going viral all over Social Media.


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‘Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid’ meets ‘Buzz Marketing’

In Branding, Buzz Marketing, CSR, Management, Marketing, People Management on April 18, 2011 at 00:36

Now this is something that I had tried last year, while working with the team at the Social Org ‘Shades of Happiness‘. It was just some time before the monsoon, and the team at SoH had come up with the idea to conduct a Wellness Camp in the slums nearing St. Columba’s School, Ashoka Place.

With the dates decided, we set out looking for Corporate to partner with, and as to how we could plan and execute the Wellness camp idea in the best possible manner.

A couple of mails down the line, we had the good fortune of having a leading Global brand partner us for the camp. The next step being to get the actual beneficiaries to come forward and get the best out of the free check-ups, seemed easy enough.

This was until I asked Ashish, one of the Founding members of SoH, as to how many families we could expect at the Wellness camp.

Ashish told me that from his past experience, in an area of 200 plus families, we could expect some “30 odd families” to turn up for the camp! Now if you do the math, this was like a success rate (or whatever) of just over 10%, ‘far too less’ from what was actually out there, and which could be tapped.

He further added that most of them would rather stay in their rooms and watch TV, or sleep in the afternoon, in fact anything but attend something as boring and mundane such as a Wellness Camp.

For once, I did wish we had a pout-enhanced celebrity to endorse our now unglamorous venture! Nonetheless, this set me thinking as to how we could get more people to get out of their houses and actually make them come for the camp.

Around the same time,  I was reading this book on Buzz Marketing (‘The Anatomy of Buzz‘ by Emanuel Rosen) and getting wowed by the entire word-of-mouth marketing thingy. Now its one thing to read about all that cool jazz as to how word-of-mouth marketing works, and it’s a totally different thing altogether to think of applying what you ‘think’ you have picked up, and also hope to get it right the very first time… !

‘(Kill) Joy factor’: We had planned for the Wellness Camp within a couple of weeks.

The Idea

I realized that just going to the slums and announcing that we were planning to have a Wellness Camp coming Sunday would not exactly get us the results in return for our efforts. Most folks, as rightly pointed out by Ashish, would actually love to spend their time sleeping, watching a movie etc on a lazy Sunday afternoon (You and me being no different!).

I also realized that when we give something away for free, the object does not really have any value to it… that is… till you attach a virtual price tag to it.

For e.g. You buy a local Webcam and you get a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones free with it. (This, my friends, is what you would call a ‘Hypothetical’ situation); O.K. … let’s make it more real, say, you buy a local Webcam and you get a pair of local headphones free with the deal.

Now, I know you really don’t care for those free headphones… unless:

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Inclusiveness: Doing well while doing Good

In Branding, Building Culture, CSR, Management on December 8, 2010 at 23:44

Happened to watch this video sometime back. (One of the few good things in favour of spending long hours, days… and months on FaceBook!)

It got me worked up enough to tweet about this the entire day that followed, ‘tweeting’ way beyond human limits!

At last count, I had managed to pull some 400+ odd tweets; and spread the video on FaceBook (FB) like fire.

Result: Some 15+ odd friends in my FB network shared it within the next day,  with approx 4-5 comments on an average, and quite a few likes on the shared link.  I could not track beyond that, but I did get this gut feeling that the message would make its way through my 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections (refer Human Web) within that week itself.

Almost a year back, I remember logging onto the ‘Zen Garden’ section by Subroto Bagchi,and reading this interview: In Conversation with Patu Keswani (Founder, Lemon Tree Hotels) – Forbes India Felt good to know about the 4% guys he had figured into his scheme of things for Lemon Tree.

If you read the article closely: “Guiding Principles: It’s very simple equation — my job is to take care of the employees, the employees’ job is to take care of the guests and guests would then take care of the returns” makes for good business sense. But does the same apply when you factor in Inclusiveness, with people with special needs forming part of your team?

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