Friends and philanthropists

KVN foundation, K. Ganesh, Juggy Marwah, Venkat K. Narayana and R. Ramaraj

THE POWER OF NETWORKS: Sify co-founder R. Ramaraj at the KVN Foundation’s food packing facility in Chennai

In this time of the coronavirus pandemic, three friends in Bengaluru have joined forces to try and make a difference. To date, the campaign they began, Feed My City, has provided 2.8 million meals across Noida, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai.

The three friends are serial entrepreneur K. Ganesh of Big Basket, Fresh Menu, Tutor Vista and Hunger Box; Juggy Marwaha, executive managing director at JLL India, and Venkat K. Narayana, CEO of the Prestige Group. They launched their initiative in Bengaluru on March 27. The KVN Foundation, set up earlier by Narayana, is the vehicle being used to execute the project since it can raise CSR money and accept digital payments.

While it was first implemented in Bengaluru, the campaign was quickly scaled up to five cities, drawing on local heavy-hitters to operate as a core groups. The operation in Chennai is the largest, and is spearheaded by R. Ramaraj, co-founder of Sify and the Chennai Angels; Gopal Srinivasan, chairman, TVS Capital Funds and eight other core members. “The success of this operation is based on network models,” explains Ramaraj. The first network involves forming a core group. The second is the food network. “We decided to use corporate kitchens, which were scalable and where quality, packaging and hygiene protocols could be replicated across multiple cities,” he explains. “All the people involved have their temperatures checked thrice a day; plenty of sanitisers are provided and, to ensure nutritious meals, we have a per-day requirement of 1,700-1,800 calories. One member of the core group receives a package every day so that we can assess quality and quantity.” The third network is of volunteers. There are 110 in Chennai to deliver food across 92 zones. The campaign in Chennai, begun on April 7, had delivered 795,000 cooked meals as of May 5.

In order to raise funds, the organisation relies on high net worth individuals, corporate grants and crowd-funding on social media through partnerships with PayTM and PhonePe.

“[This] has been a great learning,” says Ramaraj. “I know that I will never take my comforts for granted again.”

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About the author: Sohom Das
Founder of Tuccho.

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