By Navashen and Saiganesh
March 28, 2017
The idea for a business to generate income for Ananda started as an inspiration after a gathering of Ananda’s next generation in Assisi last summer. As soon as I mentioned it to Navashen he jumped on board with enthusiasm. Our business idea went through a lot of iterations and it made us think about the purpose of what we were doing and who we wanted to serve.
Our goal was to create a business where the bottom line was not the focus, and instead was selfless service and kindness – Hence “Seva” was born. We decided to build the business and brand around being socially responsible by helping poor and rural communities in India. Through what we can think of only as Guru’s grace, in a matter of weeks we were able to make connections with a number of non-profits and rural artists in India who were looking for a channel just like ours to market their products in the US.
Without much background in starting or running a business, it was an ambitious goal for us to get it setup and products curated and shipped on time to launch in November, in time for the holiday season. It proved to be an adventure that was both fun and educative! When we did launch we were humbled by the amount of support we received from our Ananda family and friends both to our project and the causes we support. We had impressive sales during the holiday season last year that surpassed our expectations. Looking into 2017, we are working on creating more online presence and focusing on wholesale.
One of the most meaningful parts of this project has been the opportunity to partner up with some beautiful souls who are doing a wonderful job sharing light and joy in the items they make and to the people they serve. We will share a couple of stories here. RIDE (Rural Institute for Developing Education) is a nonprofit in South India we have teamed up with. They work on eliminating child labor and uplifting poor rural communities.
We had pledged a part of any proceeds from the sale of their hand woven sari scarves towards supporting a midday meal program for the children they support. South India was hit with some big storms in December last year and caused significant damages to RIDE’s facilities. We made a donation around Christmas time from our holiday sales in hopes of lending some support to their recent set back. While the money helped them during a time of need, they also arranged a Christmas feast for the children as the money was pledged towards their midday meal.
Mother Miracle School in Rishikesh is another wonderful institution that we’ve partnered with that provides free high quality education to slum children in North India. Its founder, Shahla, travels to the Bay Area every Summer to bring and sell products handmade by women in these slums. When we reached out to her she saw that as an answer to her prayers and was elated to partner and sell these products through us.
We welcome you to visit our website to learn more, and follow us on facebook for updates. We hope to have our products listed on sites such as etsy and ebay in the next month. And, we are excited to come down to LA and display our products as part of the Yogananda fest in April. We would love to see you all there, so do stop by and say “hi”.