Shannu Kaw, Our New Member of Board of Advisors!


Shannu Kaw, Director- Global Business Services at Cisco Systems has joined Akshaya Patra as an advisory member. She is a multi-faceted and dynamic business leader with over 19 years of rich experience in the Technology Industry across areas of Business Operations, Procurement, Product Development and Software Engineering.

Shannu at present is functioning as Director, Global Business Services (GBS) at Cisco; she is in charge for managing Cisco’s Indirect spends in Asia Pacific and Japan which includes Strategic Partnerships, Procurement Operations, Spend Optimization and Procurement Relationship Management for the region. She in her 15+ years in Cisco has held various leadership positions which include Head of Global Partner Engineering and Contingent Labour, leading New Business Incubation and Software Development.

Prior to Cisco, Shannu has worked with Huges Software Systems and GAIL. She is the founding member of the Cisco India Civic Council and leads Cisco’s giving back initiatives like the Global Hunger Relief Programme and School Adopt Programme. She is also on the advisory board of WeConnect India, an industry forum for supporting Supplier Diversity and Women Entrepreneurs.

Shannu is an Alumnus of IIM-Bangalore (Executive General Management) and BITS Pilani (Electrical and Electronics Engineering). Beyond work, she is an avid reader and supports various social and community initiatives.

Shannu’s business acumen and expert guidance will further propel Akshaya Patra to a glorious journey of sustainability and growth!

Watch a conversation with Shannu Kaw, Director for Global Business Services at Cisco Systems

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Vicky Roy: From street child to shutterbug


Vicky Roy has had an interesting past. His life is a success story that is inspiring and captivating to not just the underprivileged, but to those who are on the path to success like our beneficiaries, and even those of us who could be considered blessed.

Vicky ran away from home at the innocent age of 11 to escape the conditions of his life. He lived a life of a street child working as a rag picker and collecting bottles to be sold. He even worked in a street side restaurant washing dishes till he eventually found shelter in an NGO.

This is where his life changed. In 2001 when his friend took part in a photography workshop, and visited Sri Lanka and Indonesia, Vicky became intrigued by the idea of photography. In fact, it was his desire to travel that led Vicky to discover his passion for photography, and follow this passion to the place where everything started – back to the streets. He took on his first project Street Dreams which was sponsored by the British High Commission. The exhibition was grand success, and travelled to London, South Africa and Vietnam. Showcasing the lives of street children and their dreams for a better future, Vicky’s personal experience and empathy allowed him to connect fully with the children of the street and bring his photographs to life.

Vicky attended ICP (International Centre of Photography), the best photography school in the world, and was asked to photo document the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in New York City. Discovering a confidence in himself and his talent Vicky even found himself lunching with Prince Andrew in Buckingham Palace!

Vicky’s life story is one of grit and determination; he is one of the famous speakers of TEDx and INK Talks. Even today Vicky has not forgotten his humble beginnings and mentors young beneficiaries at NGOs in the art of photography. Vicky extended this same generosity to Akshaya Patra when he worked with us pro bono.

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Supporting social entrepreneurship in India’s youth


There is nothing more impressive than nurturing young minds in encouragement of social entrepreneurship. And that’s what the Jagriti Yatra, started by the not-for-profit organisation Jagriti Sewa Sansthan, is all about. This initiative is a 15 day journey across the length and breadth of India that culminates in the 450 entrepreneurs applying the lessons they have learnt in the Biz Gyan Tree initiative in the Deoria district of Uttar Pradesh.

Through their travels so far these entrepreneurs have had the opportunity to understand the business model behind Karnataka’s Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya which is powered through solar energy, been trained in brand building at Chennai’s Royal Enfield Factory and taught operations and scalability at Akshaya Patra’s kitchen in Visakhapatnam, amongst others. Akshaya Patra was extremely proud to have contributed to the education of these eager entrepreneurs.

Explaining what is expected of these young ‘yatris’ Shashank Mani, Chairman of Jagriti Sewa Sansthan says, “This initiative allows hands-on experience of starting your own business with Deoria district as a setting. Now that the students have got a macro picture of India’s local businesses, it is time to work on-field, understand the problems of the villagers and come up with solutions.”

After these educational tours the participants will spend time in eight villages of Deoria speaking with local farmers, owners of small businesses and schools to devise business proposals. From these 20 proposals will be selected for a four month residential exercise in the month of March. Based on the best innovation, achievability and local relevance, the four best groups will be chosen and awarded a Rs. 1 lakh grant to help them start their business.

These creative initiatives coupled with young inventive minds are certain to bring about a positive change in the lives of citizens all over India. Akshaya Patra is honoured to have been chosen as an example of innovation for this programme, and looks forward to future involvement in this worthy cause.

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Gururaj Deshpande speaks to Forbes India


Philanthropist billionaire Gururaj Deshpande was recently featured in an article by Forbes India. ‘Desh’ Deshpande as he is often called is well known for his Deshpande Foundation, and for his appointment to the Co-Chairmanship of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship by US President Barack Obama, amongst other significant achievements.

Interestingly, Deshpande approaches philanthropy in much the same way as he does his role as an entrepreneur. “An idea does not have an impact unless it is directed at some burning problem in the world,” he told Forbes India in a telephone conversation from Boston.

In 2008, the venture capitalist and entrepreneur took on the role of Chairman of the US wing of The Akshaya Patra Foundation. The kitchen in Deshpande’s hometown of Hubli was built as a joint effort a decade ago with contributions by the billionaire and his brother-in-law NR Narayana Murthy (co-founder of Infosys).

However Deshpande does not contribute money towards the daily running of Akshaya Patra’s kitchens. Staying true to his ability to approach every philanthropic project with the heart of an entrepreneur Deshpande believes that the kitchens need to be able to support themselves. “I chair its fundraising committee in the US, but don’t contribute to daily expenses,” he says.

Deshpande also goes on to explain how his thirty years as an entrepreneur have enabled him to view his philanthropic activities through the same lens. “As an entrepreneur, you need to identify a problem and scale up. The same holds true for this (philanthropy) space,” he says.

Read the Forbes India coverage of Gururaj Deshpande here:

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Akshaya Patra hosts 3 blood donation camps


Aside from working to eliminate classroom hunger in India, Akshaya Patra also tries to provide its services to other agencies in need of assistance.

Recently Akshaya Patra conducted three blood donation camps in Karnataka to support hospitals in the area.

The first blood camp was held on 25th June, 2014 at HK Hill with 56 participants donating blood to the programme.

Tremendous participation at HK Hill blood donation camp
Tremendous participation at HK Hill blood donation camp

On 13th November, 2014 the blood camp at Bellary brought in a total of 50 donors.

Cheerfully giving at Bellary blood donation camp
Cheerfully giving at Bellary blood donation camp

The blood camp at the Vasanthapura (VK Hill) was undertaken on 29th November, 2014 in association with ESI Hospital. A total number of 59 donors participated in the programme.

Helping out for a worthy cause at VK Hill
Helping out for a worthy cause at VK Hill

We are thrilled to have been given an opportunity to provide assistance to such a worthy cause. We look forward to when we can next contribute in any way we can.

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Akshaya Patra wins 5th consecutive SAFA award


Akshaya Patra received the SAFA Best Presented Annual Report Awards 2013 in the Non-Governmental Organizations (including NPOs) category, standing first of all the SAARC countries participating! This is yet another wonderful affirmation of the high standards the Foundation upholds in financial accounting.

The award was conferred to Akshaya Patra after evaluation based on Improvement in Transparency, Accountability and Governance exemplified in the published annual reports submitted from South Asian countries. The award was handed over to Akshaya Patra on 4th December at Bhubaneshwar, and was received by Achytya Krishna, on behalf of the Foundation.

This is the fifth consecutive year that Akshaya Patra is winning a SAFA award for its Annual Report. In 2008-09 the Foundation won the Certificate of Merit, 2009-10 the 2nd Runner-Up, 2010-11 the Gold Award and 2011-12 the Silver Award.

Speaking on the occasion Chanchalapathi Dasa, Vice-Chairman of Akshaya Patra said, “We are honoured to have received this prestigious award, SAFA Best Presented Annual Report Awards 2013. This is indeed a testimony to our adherence to the highest standards of governance philosophy and our continuous strive for excellence by adopting the best practices. The award encourages us to keep performing efficiently and ethically”.

SAFA (South Asian Federation of Accountants) is a “forum of professional accountancy bodies committed to positioning, maintaining and developing the accountancy profession in SAARC Region and ensuring its continued eminence in the world of accountancy; in the public interest and towards broad economic development of the region.”

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A recap of 2014 from Akshaya Patra


2014-15 has been a year of ideation and innovation for the Akshaya Patra team. We’ve pushed boundaries and the keywords all through were Engage, Excite and Entice! Here’s a recap of some of the things we have achieved in the last twelve months.

  • Website and Microsite: We redid the Akshaya Patra website to feature better design and content, along with 7 regional and 4 international language microsites.
  • Blog: We redesigned the blog making it more interactive, featuring more frequent and relevant content with a macro perspective on issues.
  • Online ads: Upgraded the design quality and content of our online ads which are updated regularly on Google, Yahoo and private ad networks.
  • Online contests: Developed engaging and creative microsites to run two month-long online contests. Click a Smile, Akshaya Patra’s annual photography contest allows contestants to upload their best three entries for judging by an expert panel. In 2013 the contest received over 700 entries worldwide. Click a Smile 2014 closes entries on 22 December, 2014.The blogging competition held in collaboration with BlogAdda had entries flooding in as contestants vied to be among the top five bloggers chosen, and to help eliminate classroom hunger at the same time. For every post entered BlogAdda would feed one Akshaya Patra beneficiary for an entire year.
  • Social Media Posts: This year saw a concentrated effort in producing fresh, engaging and informative posts via social media, which resulted in Facebook page likes going up by almost 40,000 and Twitter followers by close to 3,000 since January 2014.
  • #HungryForSchool was a three-month long social media campaign focused on raising awareness between the connection between hunger and education. The campaign received an overwhelming response with Facebook page likes going up by almost 12,000, famous personalities like Deepak Chopra endorsing and sharing our cause, and of course donations going up as well.
  • Newsletters and Emailers: Improved the creativity and content of the organisation’s internal, fortnightly and quarterly newsletters, which have consequently received positive feedback from our stakeholders.
  • Annual Report 2013-14: After receiving numerous awards for creativity and financial reporting last year, we have pushed the envelope to create something even better for this year. The annual report is scheduled for release in a few days.
  • 2015 Calendar: Based on the theme ‘Makers of India: People who made it BIG’ the calendar features successful personalities from the country like Bollywood celebrity Parineeti Chopra, athlete PT Usha and more posing with the children.
  • Hackathon: We also stepped out of our usual comfort zone and participated in the JP Morgan Chase ‘Code for Good’ and the Google ‘Code for India’ hackathons and presented challenges to the participants. These events were not just innovative but fascinating as well!
  • Production of 3 online films: This year we have produced three films, Morsel of Love which highlights how each mouthful of food is prepared for the children with a mother’s love for her child, What can you get for Rs. 750? which showcases that many things may be unaffordable with Rs. 750, but feeding a child for a whole year is not, and The Possibilities which tells us about the struggles some children face every day to get one square meal together.

These are some of the highlights of 2014 from us at Akshaya Patra. It’s been a huge learning curve for us and we’re excited to continue down this journey we’ve begun. So stay logged in to our blog for more updates.

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VisitorsCoverage sponsors 2014 Benefit Event!


VisitorsCoverage donated $2,500 as sponsorship for the 2014 Akshaya Patra Benefit Event held at San Francisco recently. This donation will help the Foundation provide the daily, nutritious mid-day meal to 166 children in India for an entire year!

VisitorsCoverage makes a generous donation to Akshaya Patra
VisitorsCoverage makes a generous donation to Akshaya Patra

We sincerely thank VisitorsCoverage for their generosity and their support in helping Akshaya Patra fight the battle against classroom hunger in India. We are grateful and encouraged by such support that transcends all barriers. It reiterates that it is only through a consolidated, global effort that issues like malnutrition, illiteracy and poverty can finally be eradicated.

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Celebrate Generosity on #GivingTuesday


#GivingTuesday is just around the corner and individuals, corporates and NGOs globally are getting set with their plans to celebrate this special day. On this day the whole world will be united in one common thought – to rejoice in generosity and the joy of giving. #GivingTuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following the American holiday Thanksgiving.

#GivingTuesday was launched in 2012 and has been picked up enthusiastically worldwide. A social media movement, #GivingTuesday encourages people to donate in any form they wish. Whether the expression takes the form of a thought shared online, or a donation made to someone in need, #GivingTuesday celebrates the essence of the holiday season by remembering the needs of the less fortunate.

To celebrate this day corporates and charities work closely together to provide a platform for people to give generously to those in need. In fact Cisco, whose preferred partner in India is Akshaya Patra, plans to launch an interesting campaign with us to mark this day.

In addition to this Hyatt Community Grants, the philanthropic programme of Hyatt Hotels has also planned to partner with Akshaya Patra in celebration of #GivingTuesday 2014!

We can’t wait to be a part of this wonderful occasion when the whole world will come together to spread happiness through giving. In the meantime keep check in with our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages on 2nd December to find out more about our #GivingTuesday campaign!

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It’s our Birthday!


Akshaya Patra turns 14 and we’re taking a look back at our journey thus far!

Born of the simple thought to end classroom hunger, the organisation’s vision that ‘no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’ has now snowballed into a movement that has touched the lives and hearts of people all over the country and beyond.

With humble beginnings feeding just 1,500 children across 5 schools in the year 2000, today Akshaya Patra feeds over 1.4 million children across 10,661 Government and Government-aided schools across India on every school day. Headquartered in Bangalore the Foundation runs 23 kitchens in 10 states of India, and has a presence in the U.S. and U.K. too.

Akshaya Patra has crossed some huge milestones in the past 14 years. Some of them are:

  • 2000 – Launches the feeding programme with just 1,500 children in 5 schools across Bangalore
  • 2001 – The Akshaya Patra feeding programme gains momentum with the mid-day meal becoming compulsory in Government schools.
  • 2002 – The technologically advanced roti making machine is introduced in the Vrindavan kitchen.
  • 2003 – The Government of Karnataka invites Akshaya Patra to partner with it to supply the mid-day meals in the state.
  • 2004 – Akshaya Patra expands to Hubli, Jaipur, Mangalore and Mysore too.
  • 2005 – Introduces a decentralised kitchen in Baran to reach remote areas of India.
  • 2006 – Harvard Business School does a case study on Akshaya Patra’s operations processes.
  • 2007 – Opens more kitchens at Nayagarh, Bhilai, Gandhinagar and a second kitchen in Bangalore.
  • 2008 – Becomes the first Indian NGO to comply with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
  • 2009 – Serves up 500 million cumulative meals.
  • 2010 – Guwahati kitchen is opened establishing a presence in the north east.
  • 2011 – Opens a centralised kitchen in Chennai.
  • 2012 – Akshaya Patra serves its billionth meal.
  • 2013 – Ranked 23rd in The Global Journal list of top 100 NGOs in the world, and opens the Jodhpur kitchen.
  • 2014 – Opens kitchens at Cuttack and Rourkela in Odisha.

Aside from these milestones Akshaya Patra has also received huge accolades for excellence in communications, operations process, food safety and financial reporting. The Foundation received the Gold Shield Award from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) for excellence in financial reporting five years in a row, gaining a place in the ICAI hall of fame – the first NGO to ever do so. Akshaya Patra has also received three consecutive LACP (League of American Communications Professionals) Vision Gold Awards, and was awarded the CII National Award for Food Safety by the Confederation of Indian Industry amongst many others.

The past 14 years have seen huge success and growth for the organisation, but there is a long way to go. Looking ahead, the plans are firmly underway to keep the Foundation motoring on course to fulfil its mission of reaching 5 million children by 2020.

But in order to reach that goal we need your help. So join us in our fight to provide food for education to the children of India. Together we can end classroom hunger!

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