Ekam Foundation : Ameeta Chatterjee, PGP 95

Ekam Foundation Mumbai is a non-profit organization working to provide Healthcare services to children from underprivileged backgrounds. Ekam is the brainchild of Ms. Ameeta Chatterjee from the batch of PGP 1995. After being in the corporate industry for 20 years, Ameeta took a sabbatical and shaped Ekam Foundation Mumbai to what it is today.

Ekam provides financial aid for Surgical Care to children with life-threatening situations (through city hospitals). They also have various other programs like – Annual Health & Hygiene awareness program, School Wellbeing, School Health program where the emphasis is mainly on the reduction of communicable ailments/ diseases due to poor hygiene and nutrition. The annual health & hygiene awareness program runs across 1100 municipal schools covering over 100,000 children.

Ekam Foundation also hosts and participates in several annual events like Joy of Giving, Swar Ekam, London Gala, Anandadhara, Braveheart, etc which helps to spread awareness and raising funds for the cause.

Ameeta Chatterjee is also an author of books – A journey of Love, Joyful Living and has been a columnist at TOI where she shared her views on issues faced by working women in the city. She currently lives in Mumbai with her husband Sonjoy Chatterjee (PGP1994) and two daughters.

Ameeta Chatterjee

We had the opportunity to speak with Ameeta to get a better understanding of how and when Ekam happened to her and how IIMB and its Alumni are a part of this journey with her.

What inspired you to leave your high paying corporate job and get into this space?

I took a career sabbatical in 2012 with a view to focus on family and teenage daughters. In 2011-12 I had just closed the single largest deal of USD 100 million in my career and reached the C-suite but I realized that I was missing out on my children and they needed me in the growing up years have given that they would fly the nest in another 6-10 years. I could pick up my career again but these years with the children will never come back. At the same time, as a couple Sonjoy & I, having returned from a stint in UK and his new role at Goldman Sachs, started appreciating the Western view on philanthropy and giving back in a structured manner. We were inspired by the people we met and decided to use children as a focal point we as we had two daughters ourselves. We started with a small project of supporting 100 girls in Worli slums through their education in high school for 5 years. Enthused by the experience, I decided to partner with a Chennai based NGO to start a child healthcare focussed intervention in Mumbai. From then, it has grown manifold and there is no looking back. It was just small steps that lead to bigger things in the years to come.

Any specific “Ahaa” moments in your journey?

During my career, I had also worked extensively on public-private partnerships in the health and education sector balancing the roles of public and private sector roles in the provision of public services. And with my experience in UK, I also realized that non-government and social sector can provide a lot of areas to plug the gaps in the public provision of services and this was my initiative to put it in action. In the first week months, the first time I met a boy who was in 3rd grade (as old as my daughter then) who was in need of congenital heart corrective surgery and we tied up with one of our partner hospitals to undertake the surgery for Rs. 50,000/-. In that moment I realized that we could gift this child and family a fresh lease of life with our support, I decided this cause was worth my effort and time. Every child deserved the right to health! 

Any suggestions or advice for younger alums for taking up roles in non-profit organizations?

Role in non-profit organizations can be extremely fulfilling and equally frustrating! Attach yourself to a cause that really appeals to you! Volunteer, take small steps and experience the cause before you dive into it. I looked at many options before I zeroed in on my areas – education, nutrition, disability, special needs and then I chose healthcare. Also, review your personal and family life to see if it suits you and your family. Between Sonjoy and me, this is a partnership and both of us are fully committed to the cause. It also brings in our children in a positive way to engage with the cause. Be ready to learn and experiment – the voluntary sector does not work like the private sector, but it works! you have to be willing to keep your ears to the ground and eyes open.   

How has IIMB in any way contributed to your Ekam Journey?

One of the things that really enjoy in my work, is using management solutions to work in the voluntary sector. I am aware of the governance, integrity, and lack of transparency in the NGO sector. I make an extra effort to make sure that we can bring corporate and latest management principles into the management of the NGO to give people a sense of comfort and transparency. So everything I have learned on management at IIMB and in my career come into play in the running of the Foundation. 

And of course, I have support from IIM alum in many ways – many of them are financially support the Foundation, some wives of IIM alum volunteer regularly and through them some children also support. In March we hosted a piano recital with four kids of IIMB alum in Mumbai to raise awareness and monies of the cause and the event was well attended by the IIMB Mumbai chapter. 

Is there any Give/ Ask of Alums?

We have recently started an Ekam Education Fund where we are identifying children from all over the country in identified (due diligence) institutes and schools to support them through the education for the next 5 years. I attach a note for the same for your reference. 

We believe that with a support of Rs. 20,000 – 25,000 per year for the next five years, we can support children in schools / residential educational facilities to complete their education over the next 5-6 year period. And as IIMB alum we are well aware of the difference that education has made in our lives!  Lets us gift the same to one more child in our life. 

How can Alums engage or associate with Ekam?

We are also looking for networks to build with Corporate CSR teams, creative & research agencies to help run our programs and in fundraising activities. Senior management people regularly volunteer with us for short assignments – there are many ways that one can associate with the Foundation depending on your interest, aptitude and time commitment. I would be happy to meet or talk to people personally – they can write to me on ameeta@ekamfoundationmumbai.org or ameeta_chatterjee@hotmail.com.

You may alternatively reach Ameeta directly on her phone at +91 99303 77997.

We are thankful to Ameeta for providing her valuable insight into the journey – from the corporate world to social well being and wish her all the best.

Donation to Ekam Foundation Mumbai can be made through any of the following options:

1) Cheque can be drawn in favor of “Ekam Foundation Mumbai” and to be couriered at Ekam Foundation Mumbai, Mezzanine Floor, DGP House, 88-C, Old Prabhadevi Road, Prabhadevi, Mumbai 400025

2) For electronic payment transfer, bank details are as follows:

ACCOUNT NO – 005701071962
MICR CODE – 400229013

3) Online donation can be made on our website at www.ekamfoundationmumbai.org and go to the “donate” tab and click on https://tiny.cc/donatetoekam

Note-Donations made to Ekam Foundation Mumbai are eligible for tax exemption under section 80G of IT Act, 1961

– Please email at admin@ekamfoundationmumbai.org after donation for confirmation