Ms. Ritu Chhabria, Managing Trustee of Mukul Madhav Foundation. She holds a double major in Economics and Marketing from Richmond College London and a degree in Public Relations. Her interest in art and culture prompted her to pursue a certification in Arts & Styles at the prestigious Sotheby’s – London. In the year 1999, she established Mukul Madhav Foundation as she felt the need to channelize the many social welfare programs carried out by her. Her list of endeavors at working towards mitigating the pain and suffering of the underprivileged has no end. She continues to strive for spreading education and providing healthcare for the less privileged members of our society and especially for the children of India – the future of our country.
Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the CSR domain.
I have been working in the field of social work for over seventeen years now. Back in 1999, much before the CSR mandate, I started an NGO by myself called Mukul Madhav Foundation (MMF), to primarily work on providing good quality education and accessible health care facilities to all those who are less privileged than others. We have grown over the years and touched the lives of thousands of people. My family has always been very supportive of my work and I was asked to join the Finolex Industries Board of Directors. As I had been running Mukul Madhav Foundation since the beginning, it seemed like a perfect match to join hands with Finolex Industries and help carry out their CSR projects. Finolex Industries has been doing a lot of community development projects since its inception, especially in water schemes in drought areas around Maharashtra. Apart from this they supported the Zila Parishad schools around Ratnagiri district with infrastructure and amenities and started a tailoring class for women, to help empower them in Ratnagiri. Being both a Director of the Company and the Managing Trustee of Mukul Madhav Foundation, I feel like I have a huge responsibility and the ability to do something for those in need.
How has the CSR & sustainability program evolved at your company?
As mentioned, Finolex Industries was earlier involved only in CSR activities around Ratnagiri, as they had their manufacturing plant there. It was easier to develop a community where we existed. However, since associating with MMF, their activities have grown tenfold and they are able to reach out many more beneficiaries especially in Pune. This match works perfectly as both organizations are inter-dependent. As MMF believes in proper verification of each and every case, applications that we receive from PAN India are personally verified by Finolex dealers in that area before any assistance is given, and MMF being the implementing agency of Finolex CSR, we ensure their funds are appropriately spent.
In 2010, MMF began an English medium school in an interior village of Golap Ratnagiri, on the 10 acres of land donated by Finolex Industries. This school has been a dream project and has been running for the past 6 years to provide quality education to over 500 students.
The Finolex CSR program also covers medical assistance, Educational sponsorships, medical camps in Zila Parishad schools of Satara, Ratnagiri and Pune to screen over 3000 children per annum, monthly groceries to over 12 institutions in Pune, quarterly pediatric Cardiac Camps in association with Healing Little Hearts and Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune and other donations as per requirements. Our most recent project is helping 314 children affected with cerebral Palsy in Satara district by donating specially designed chairs at their schools, 314 Wheelchairs and commodes to each child at home and setting up taluka based rehabilitation centers to avail of therapies.
Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your CSR & sustainability journey, and how.
I have been blessed to be always surrounded by people who have celebrated the spirit of giving! From my great grandparents, to my father, my in-laws, my husband, myself and now my daughters; we have always been sensitive to the needs of those less privileged than others. In fact the Chhabria family has been doing philanthropic activities since generations, especially for those suffering with cancer. Being in this atmosphere instilled this drive in me and I took a decision to finally start Mukul Madhav Foundation by myself. I may not be able to pin-point the one individual in my life who has supported me through my journey but it is my entire family and especially Prakash, my husband and my backbone, who believes in my work and motivates me to keep going, for which I thank him every day of my life.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I have been advised frequently “to listen before I commit”!! But being the person that I am, I do not like to waste a single moment and as soon as we receive any appeal we get down to work! I cannot truly say if that is a good thing or bad, but yes my journey through Mukul Madhav Foundation has taught me to be a much stronger individual than I was. I am someone who likes to go with the flow and not sit around waiting for a miracle to happen, but take action and make that miracle happen!
Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of in your CSR & Sustainability role?
I was very happy when Finolex Industries and Mukul Madhav Foundation received two prestigious CSR awards for the project Mukul Madhav Vidyalaya, our English medium School in Golap, Ratnagiri. These awards have been presented by Bluedart Global CSR Excellence and Leadership Awards for "Support & Improvement in Quality of Education" on the 18th of February, Mumbai and one by IndiaCSR for Best Innovative CSR Practices in Education on the 26th of February in Delhi. It does feel nice to see 6 years of hard work being rewarded. This school was a dream project and even after facing several obstacles, we pushed through and have also been awarded the Ideal School Award in Ratnagiri for 2 years consecutively. This school is my pride and I am eagerly waiting for my first batch of students to graduate in 2020!
If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?
I would like to employ a lot more female candidates and maybe also make our office a little friendlier for the younger generation to walk-in! I am intrigued today by our youth and I believe they can take Finolex Industries and Mukul Madhav Foundation to places we may not have thought possible!
Describe your perfect day.
My perfect day is when I set goals in the morning and achieve them before I go to bed! And I have been lucky to have a team who works very hard to ensure this!!