[AI] Interview with the co-founder of the Ability Foundation.

Sudhir R (NeSTIT) sudhir.r at nestgroup.net
Tue Feb 26 23:38:21 EST 2008


"We want to promote the "I Can" attitude among people."

Rediff.com

February 26, 2008

C K Ranganathan, CMD , CavinKare talked to Business Standard about the recently held Employability Fair, the Ability awards and his relationship with the
Ability Foundation

You are known as the sachet king ever since your company pioneered in marketing goods in sachets. How did you get associated with disability, and what led
to the formation of the Ability Foundation?

We were always doing stuff for social welfare but were not focussed on disability. The story of the foundation started when I was a tenant of Jaishree Raveendran,
the founder of Ability Foundation.

She told me one day that she could start a magazine for the disabled if she had Rs 25,000. I immediately handed her a cheque and she was surprised. She
said she hadn't asked for money.

But I said good things should not be delayed. Then we kept discussing the magazine and we felt that a foundation would be even better. So, the Ability foundation
was formed in 1995 and I along with Jaishri and Thankavel became the founder members.

So it is not a CSR foundation of CavinKare?

No. Both are separate. While I founded the company, I am a founder member of the foundation and I fund it substantially. But the funding is part of our
CSR.

How much do you finance annually?

About Rs 4 crore (Rs 40 million).

The Foundation is now known for the Ability awards and the Employment fair it organisers annually. Why did you decide to move the job fair for disabled
out of Chennai to Delhi?

This is the first step after we started the fair in 2004. We now want the fair in all the metros and then in smaller towns. Why should people from far off
places take so much pains to come all the way to Chennai or Delhi for a job? It will mean that the funds would have to go up several times.

What kind of jobs are usually offered in this fair?

These are all white collar jobs. We want to expand it to include blue collar jobs as well from next year.

What is the response?

There are about 70 companies taking part in the fair each year. This year the new entrants included Microsoft, Coke, Pepsi, Mahindra Consulting, Maruti
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How do you identify winners for the Ability awards?

We have a team verifying applications across the country the whole year. It is part of our strategy to promote the spirit of 'I Can' as opposed to 'I cannot'.
This year for instance, one man with no vision got the award for running a centre for physiotherapy that is now helping hundreds of disabled in Bhopal.
It is an example that can inspire even the able-bodied into doing more.

The award which started six years ago is like a catalyst for change in attitudes. If it makes one man change his mind about himself, our day is made.

You sound more like a social worker than a businessman. How do you find time for all this from your successful business?

Many people watch TV in their spare time, Some others travel. For me this work brings happiness.
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