This past weekend, we had one of 'D's childhood buddies, Sundeep Kapila, visiting us. 'D' and Sundeep go back a long way and while I have heard a lot of tales about the wonderful childhood memories the boys share, I remember meeting him with 'D' just once when we were in our 9th/10th grade, in one of the school events called "Style 95". I am sure everyone from our batch has quite some memories from that event! You know the kind of memories, that 16 years later, you wish no one tells your spouse about, specially if he/she was not a part of the "Style 95 madness" LOL!!
Jokes apart, Sundeep went on to get the 4th rank in the IIT JEE entrance exam in our batch, joined the Computer Science department in IIT Mumbai, rose through the ranks of McKinsey consulting after he got out of college, and then with the entire world at his feet, he left everything to work for a cause he passionately believed in.
He started a social business/entrepreneurial venture called "Swasth India" with the mission of making primary healthcare accessible and affordable to the urban and rural Indian masses.
Ankur Pegu, another good friend of 'D' and I , from our Cotton College days, and Sundeep's IIT classmate, also left a plum corporate career and joined Sundeep in this noble venture.
In their own words:
"Swasth India is a social business working towards improving the health of low-income segments in urban and rural India and their mission is to
to ensure access to affordable and quality health services to 10 million low-income people by 2018”.
In summary, what Sundeep and Ankur, identified as the health care problem, they were aiming to solve is this. Every year 32 million Indian people go from above to below poverty line due to a health shock aka getting into huge debts, selling assets, losing jobs caused by unforeseen and often preventable healthcare expenses. Even at times when India boasts of high GDPs and great prosperity, this shift from above to below poverty line doesn't change. The single most important cause for such inadvertent health shocks was identified as lack of accessible/affordable primary health care for the poor.
Their proposed solution:
Accessible/affordable primary health care for the poor in terms of small clinics that have a primary care physician, a dentist, a nurse, pharmacy , a receptionist, all basic test equipment for blood tests, ECGs etc in a small space optimized 250 sq ft facility, in an area densely populated with low income families. As of now, all their health care centres are in the slums of Mumbai.
To get a better idea of the operational model and the logistics involved, please visit their website: http://www.swasthindia.in/ and watch following video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM9u_A2_Pck and the ones in their YouTube channel mentioned at the end of this post.
People often do not understand the difference between an NGO and a social business. While an NGO is almost always externally funded and it's sustenance, more often than not perenially depends on the availability of external funds, the main purpose of a social entrepreneurial venture is to meet a social need, while working towards attaining self sustenance within a specified period of time. While a social entrepreneurial venture requires it's fair share of funding in the initial stages, it's business model facilitates sustainability within a specific period of time. This inherently facilitates scalability and continuance of meeting the social need without being dependent on external funds, once a steady state is reached. Not only that, it has the ability to add jobs to the economy, train individuals to become skilled in specific areas of work(who otherwise would not have access to career promoting training), promote gender equality, women empowerment ...so on and so forth, all of which Swasth India is doing and will continue to do. Optimizing the operations ( IT infrastructure/social infrastructure/medical infrastructure) of such ventures to meet the social need efficiently and effectively , while reaching out to millions of people who need access to the service , is a challenge and makes such ventures really exciting along with being fulfilling for the people involved
Sundeep Kapila and Ankur Pegu are among the smartest of the smart and the brightest of the bright. But not just that, they are also among the bravest of the brave and the humblest of the humble. And that's what makes all the difference.
More importantly, they are doing more than their fair share to make this world a better place.
I am sure you and I can start doing a bit of our fair share, in small ways and big, by showing our support for this noble cause and by spreading the word.
Reach out to them, visit one of their centers in Mumbai when you are there next and extend your support in whatever ways you can!
On the web, you can visit Swasth India at:
Their You Tube channel is:
Their Facebook page is:
Keep up the good work guys!