Inspired by Sudha Murty, this 14-year-old has started a venture to inspire youngsters to work for social causes
At an age when most young students are busy exploring different facets of life – friendships, social media, or partying - a bunch of spirited youngsters at Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is on their way to become intrepid entrepreneurs.
These children, as young as 13 or 14, are navigating the world of business, guided by efficient mentors, and juggling academics and entrepreneurship with elan to make a difference in the world they live in.
One such young entrepreneur, Manvi Shroff, a 14-year-old student of Jamnabai Narsee School, Mumbai, has started The Charis Club, a social venture targeting youth and children.
Giving back with grace
The name “Charis” comes from the Greek language, meaning “grace”.
The story of The Charis Club started when Manvi was reading a book by Sudha Murty, A Lesson in Life from a Beggar. From that day, she says, she was sure she wanted to make a change in the world and encourage others to do it as well. She went to her YEA !class the next day and started moulding her idea into reality with the help of her teachers.
Explaining the concept, Manvi says, “The Charis Club aims to inculcate the art of giving among youth in a fun-filled, Gen Z way. We conduct monthly events targeting environmental and social causes, using annual and event-specific contributions made by the members.”
She says not many children are willing to give up their social lives and spend time giving back and creating change. A lot of NGOs, charities, and foundations are looking to do good but may not have resources and manpower to execute some of their projects and initiatives.
“The Charis Club solves problems of both groups by allowing children to participate in these activities without them having to break away from their social lives. NGOs, on the other hand, by partnering with Charis Club, get access to enthusiastic and committed volunteers which helps their cause.”
In return, participants get rewards and recognitions.
“We believe in an open source philosophy, encouraging others to start small social ventures of their own, thereby creating a multiplier effect,” she adds.
Making friends along the way
The Charis Club enrolled 25 members within the first two months and after executing three events, Manvi was encouraged by her parents, her YEA mentors, and her friends (who turned into her partners) to expand and grow the venture.
At YEA!, she learned the skill of making a business plan for a social venture, learnt the importance of having a mission statement, a robust revenue model, and a rigorous execution plan that ensures the venture scales and is self-sustaining.
The act of helping has been built like playing a game on an app. You have fun while the magic wand collects credits (smiles and impact) and you get medals, certificates, loyalty points, Insta posts etc. at the end of every event – and, of course, make friends on the way.
So far, The Charis Club has built its community primarily through word of mouth.
Manvi also leverages social media, including WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, to spread awareness.
The organisation has partnered with several foundations and charities for events such as Angelxpress, Artscape, and Missionaries of Charity. It also works with other third-party vendors who provide the location, merchandise, etc. for their events.
The community is at present 70-member strong, with about 30 paid members. Over the next 12 months, it is looking to expand to a community of 500+ members, with a paid membership base of around 200.
Their revenue model has two aspects: a one-time membership fee and event participation fee collected from students. It is targeting around Rs 2 lakh in revenue for next year and will reach out to more schools in Mumbai and additional charities and NGOs to achieve this.
“During the pandemic, we are holding online fund raisers and community sessions. Activities are organised for members and contributions raised from them as participation fees. So far, we have collected Rs 45,000,” Manvi says.
Edited by Teja Lele Desai