“At the very core of our existence is the belief that a better future for humanity depends on our capacity to harness change.”
Anamika Srivastava (Founder & CEO, Development Consortium)
Anamika Srivastava has walked a long journey thus far. Married at an early age of 22. It was a totally new experience and a different way of living. Srivastava always had a dream to do something different in her life and never left it behind. She derived her motivation from her mother who gave her birth in her 19s and was a successful educationist. “If she could do it so well, I can too as they say it runs in your blood,” says Anamika. It was not an easy journey. She was lucky to get an opportunity of working in the corporate sector with the most premier organizations at that time. The undivided support from her husband and his constant care for her health kept her going. She conceived two amazing daughters via IVF.
As life progressed, Srivastava completed her masters while she was in a family way. She took a break from work and used this time to complete her higher studies. After devoting four years to family life Anamika started getting anxious to go back to work. “Sitting at home and only managing my girls was not acceptable to me,” she explained. She wanted to do more and decided to step out to work. It was even harder to find a job after career break. Anamika had to begin anew which meant she had to start from scratch. She started as a receptionist at one of the UN privileged organization. “No work is small if you have the will you will find your way” and she did find her way to where her skills were, in Finance and Accounts. She continued to work in different organizations and landed in one of the UN organizations that changed her outlook towards life. That’s when she decided to start Development Consortium – an organization devoted to stimulating lasting change in the lives of those who need it most.
OVERCOMING THE HURDLES
Nothing great comes easy. Anamika says “The constant disagreements between my parents on various issues made me become someone different that I am today. It made me very strong, determined, resilient, patient and the most important thing was learning from their mistakes.” The biggest hurdle for Srivastava was completing her education. Her father’s motivating words, “You have nothing to lose, do what you can and give your best,” kept her going. He was her constant support and a reminder that she can achieve her dreams. It took her some time to bring change and there was a 360-degree turn in her life when she made up her mind to build DC and lead it to the next level. Being shy and introvert, Anamika still prefers staying behind the curtains whether at work or at social occasions – action should speak more than words, she says.
Varied thoughts were roving over Anamika’s head while working with UN and managing projects on topics like human trafficking, child protection and prison reforms. While being on the field and seeing what she would have never known otherwise, how hard the life was outside and how privileged she had been so far, broke her heart. She specifically remembers one incident when she visited Tihar Jail to support a programme. Hearing the story of one of the many survivors and a young prisoner changed her view about life. She wanted to do so much but there was a limit to what could be done. But somewhere something had to start. She became more determined about it. In her words, “It was the first time the thought of starting my own social enterprise came to my mind.”
Near this time, Anamika’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with last stage cancer. She had moved to work from home to support her. In this duration, one day at a lunch table with her Co-Founder and a few other colleagues and friends, Development Consortium was born. It took about a year to set up and they started with volunteering. All members had put their efforts and time. Anamika feels indebted to all of them.
THE SUCCESS OF THE DEVELOPMENT CONSORTIUM
DC is a respected non-profit organization, dedicated to working with young people and vulnerable communities across India – empowering them to overcome health, education and rights, abuse & injustice issues. At the very core of their existence is the belief that a better future for humanity depends on their capacity to harness change. It is the building of this capacity that is at the heart of their working model. Over the years, DC has worked on different programs. Some of the key programs are:
- Preventing Adolescent Anemia:
DC, in association with HCL Samuday – a flagship project under HCL Foundation – has initiated a project in the Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh wherein families of adolescent girls will be provided with fortified atta as well imparted with necessary information to stimulate behavioural modification. The aim of project Sampushti is to establish the importance of iron in diet, and in turn, address anemia in the adolescent population thereby ensuring overall improvement in health and wellness as well as better pregnancy outcomes later in life.
The key aim of Project Streeksha is to bridge the existing gaps in women’s education and employability by providing young women opportunities especially in rural areas to get access to a professional/vocational education and thus preparing them to be employable. The programme aims to do so by addressing key reasons behind young women lagging behind in receiving professional/vocational education – lack of finances, family/social support and social norms.
- Love Matters India:
Love Matters India (LMI) is DC’s flagship digital initiative in India. Love Matters is a digital and bilingual awareness and education initiative designed to cater to the needs of young people in India. Today, LMI speaks to millions of young women across India through online as well as offline campaigns and interventions.
A novel digital safe space and India’s first comprehensive and dynamic online resource hub on life skills education for teenagers, parents and educators. It aims to bring a mindset shift towards supporting the children with their emotional, social and behavioural health well-being.
DC is also moving into the space of environment conservation through its new programs focused on the circular economy of plastic waste collection, management and recycling.
ADVICE FOR BUDDING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
Don’t move so fast lest you fall. Take risks, make mistakes, learn from them and move ahead. Don’t feel guilty about your failures, feel proud of your mistakes as these make you stronger and most importantly listen to your heart.
HER FAVOURITE QUOTE
“Standing alone does not mean I am lonely, it means I am strong enough to fight my battles alone.”