Ratna Dave, Founder, Alize Trust
Running a charitable trust is a Herculean task and Dave, of course, did not have it working overnight. It was a dream that she has been nurturing since childhood. “I had decided ever since I was a child, that I would contribute to the society. God has given me the skills and ability and I am only using it in the best possible manner to achieve optimal results not just for myself but for the entire society,” said Dave.
Wonder why she took up social service? Well, it all runs in the family. Dave’s family members have all been involved into various community services, so running a charitable trust came quite naturally to her. Dave took up social entrepreneurial experiments and explorations. She has been a part of a number of assignments with multilateral agencies like UNAIDS, UNDP, UNWFP and bilateral agencies like DFIDI/RCSHA and CIDA. Dave has also worked for international NGOs like Care India and Pathfinders International and for state government agencies of Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Tamilnadu.
Initially, Dave’s dream was given force in form of sporadic activities by a small team of like-minded people. But they soon realised the need for a more formal structure to expand the scope, scale and reach of their activities, which eventually led to Alize.
Unlike other trusts, Alize does not work specifically for a particular purpose. It believes in organic evolution and therefore responds to the various needs as they come. From HIV/AIDS, empowering marginalized sections, education, building capacity and income generation activities to youth & adolescent guidance & counselling, developing social entrepreneurship and biotechnology, Alize’s area of operation runs a gamut. The trust initiated its systematic operation with two long-term programmes — generating awareness & promoting the use of organic products and supporting artisans of traditional garments through income generation assistance — which it has been pursuing for as long as it is in existence. With the development of technology advancement and green revolution, food production methods have undergone a sea change. The focus has been on enhancing the volume of the produce, which is done through severe compromise of the nutritive values. This has known to affect physical & intellectual capabilities of human beings and to cause serious health problems in the long run. Alize aims at improving the health of the people in the society and for this it has engaged in various activities. Some of these include generating awareness about food preparation & storage methods, assessing quality of food, nutritive values, etc; spreading awareness about organic food products; promoting use of organic food products; support to people involved in organic farming & organic products sale & distribution; creating access to organic products & easy availability and developing marketing & distribution networks. Alize has also been providing support to artisans & craftsmen involved into designing traditional & ethnic products. Its activities in this sphere involves training artisans & craftsmen and helping them develop products which are sync in with the current trends & demands; creating markets and marketing channels for products and establishment of sales outlet. This apart, the trust also runs a social entrepreneurship development programme wherein it supports people aspiring to contribute to society through social development initiatives. It supports overseas students, local youth and working executives, to get involved in social development initiatives like guiding aspiring candidates to identify the initiatives they would like to take up based on their interests and skills, establishing linkages between organizations and the candidates, assist candidates in logistics management, advising on project/initiative design and appropriateness and helping them to implement the initiative. Dave has also ensured that the trust takes active initiative in case of marginalized groups like sex workers, homosexuals and people inflicted with HIV & AIDS. It works towards supporting them, bringing them back to the mainstream society and providing them with a livelihood. In addition to this, Alize has also undertaken relief activities in disaster, need-based education support, development of poor & slum children and career counselling. Presently, Alize operates with a small team comprising mainly promoters, support staff, external need-based consultants and volunteers. The trust follows an off site-working model, which allows volunteers and other members to work from their own preferable locations connected by means of internet and mobile phones. By the year 2010, Dave aims to expand the operation of the trust to various geographical areas and intends to use information technology to reach out to the masses. For people aspiring to become social entrepreneurs Dave offers help. She admits that there are thousands of people wanting to contribute to the society just like her, but is also aware of the fact that many are clueless about how to approach for the same. Alize encourages voluntary contributions & assistance in form of time, resources and linkages. For those looking forwards to a career in social development, there are a number of professional courses run by various universities that can be taken up by interested people. However, if one wishes, one can contribute even without any formal educational background or without being appropriately qualified for the same. It is the drive within which one needs to follow & pursue till the result is achieved. For fulfilling one’s dreams, people should have conviction in their own beliefs.