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GiveIndia ropes in Azim Premji for their second annual First Giver's Summit


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August 03, 2011
The Economic Times
Ahona Ghosh


MUMBAI: While the rains raged outside on Monday evening in Mumbai, a handful High Net Worth Individuals gathered in the city's Four Seasons hotel to celebrate their first successful year of philanthropy. The second annual First Giver's Summit by GiveIndia a facilitating organization for NGOs, celebrated the act of giving and measuring impact. "We have seen an increase of 20% - 25% in giving through us since last year," says Dhaval Udani, CEO, GiveIndia.


The First Giver's club is a network of 120 High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) who have committed Rs 5 lakh and 40 hours to philanthropy per year. Last year they raised Rs 3 core which was deployed across 31 projects across five states reaching out to 5000 beneficiaries. They gave to five causes for children, education, healthcare, elderly and disability.


The clutch of 65 HNWIs turned up in the event to hear from Azim Premji, Chairman of Bangalore-based Wipro. He addressed the gathering via a video link from Bangalore on his decade long learnings from working in the social sector and with the government. "It is essential to commit time and not just money. Personal leadership on the field is critical and cannot be reduced," says Premji. Premji has given away nearly $2 billion or 8.7% of Wipro's equity to philanthropy via his foundation, the Azim Premji Foundation. He spends 50% of his time on philanthropy, "I will increase this as we scale up," says Premji.


His other learnings were to have a broad based contribution from society. Not the contributions from the wealthy but everyone could do their bit. The tenacity and patience needed in the social sector is critical and working with the government requires more so. "In this sector the transformation process is long drawn out," says Premji.


Lastly measuring and impact evaluation is very important at every stage. Abhijit Banerjee, co-founder, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's JPAL, (poverty action lab) says, "Donors need to be informed and skeptical consumers." Agrees Premji, "Measuring goals at every step to recycle our learnings help to go forward."


Rakesh Jhunjhunwala ace investor announced during this summit his intention to give away 25% of his wealth to charity. After three of India's wealthy individuals pledged significant shares of their personal wealth to charity ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala is the fourth to take the giving pledge. These announcements have been spurred on by the crusade of the billionaire duo Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who are urging billionaires around the world to give a share of their personal wealth to charity. They visited India six months ago.


Yet Jhunjhunwala does not hesitate to admit, "I am not doing as much as I can." This sentiment is a reflection of the high numbers of HNWIs in India. Dr K. Anji Reddy, Foudner of Dr. Reddy's Laboratories says, "I don't think giveaway money will do the job. You need to spend time and scale up and innovate these ventures just like one does in business."


The population of HNWIs in the Asia Pacific rose by 25.8% to 3 million in 2009. The numbers match Europes HNWIs for the first time, according to a 2010 report by Merill Lynch Global Wealth Management and CapGemini. Hong Kong and India recorded a surge in HNWI numbers, 104.4% and 50.9% respectively; and HNWI wealth grew by 108.9% and 53.8% respectively. The question still remains whether the wealthy in India are giving as much as they can.


The small clutch of 65 HNWIs huddled in Mumbai's Four Seasons hotel was certainly not a representation of the entire HNWI population in the country. "Giving has not come of age in India but it is moving in the right direction," says Udani of GiveIndia.

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