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NGO Interview: Saketh Kothamasu – Yuvatha

Saketh Kothamasu - Yuvatha Founder & General Secretary

1. What inspired you to run an NGO rather than a business or finding a job?

Like most of my generation, I’m wildly ambitious about my NGO bringing that change. I’m happy to say that I imbibed best of India by growing up where both school and college gave me the feeling that’s it’s possible to do anything. I was always inclined towards giving back to the community in all possible ways.
Ever since I attended the first social visit during my second year of engineering I have nurtured a dream of becoming a part of the philanthropic programs. During my graduation along with few like-minded friends started a Non-profit ‘ Yuvatha ’  that works towards the upliftment of society through various social programmes which also received many accolades in the last 7+ years.

Also Read: Teacher Suspended for Giving Zero to Student Who Scored 99 Marks

2. What are the challenges and strengths of the organization?

Strength – A huge and diversified team who are able to carry forward the mission and values of the NGO.

Challenges – Achieving consistency on part of the volunteers is a challenge.

3. What can you say is your best reward for choosing to found your NGO?

For me, satisfaction is the only thing that matters. I have never wanted to stick to a job drawing a good amount of salary but without any satisfaction. I have always seen myself as a problem solver or a person who put himself completely to work for the betterment of others. I love what I do and at the end, the impact that I generate gives me immense satisfaction.

4. How would you describe your organization’s personality and management style?

We can call it a platform for youth to grow themselves as a better leader while working for the betterment of others. we concentrate on the holistic development of both the doer( team member) and the receiver (the end audience) and the management style we follow is the bottom-up approach where everyone has a say in the activities.
Mostly it would be an inclusive way of working which involves everyone associated with the cause.

5. Are you certified and validated by professional agencies such as CAF or GiveIndia or Charity Navigator?

No

6. What is your compliance record over the last 3/5 years?

We are completely perfect with the compliance standards are considered, we follow a transparent workflow in the NGO and all the transactions and activities are carried out as per the society guidelines what we are intended to do so.

7. What are the creative and innovative things that you have done in the last 3 years?

Mission B: Mission B aims to collect wastepapers (from schools, colleges, corporates, households), recycle them to new notebooks and distribute them to all govt school students for free. We have not only put the recycled paper to good use, but also fulfilled the need for notebooks for 14,000 students.

Mission Nutrition: The project is a pledge to fight vitamin and mineral deficiencies in disadvantaged kids by majorly adding fruits to their diet on a daily basis as fruits are one essential, easy and natural bulk packs of vitamins and minerals.

Adopting the rural artisans: While promoting eco-friendly Ganesh idols we have started working with various rural artisans and have seen the problems they face. In order to help them more, we started creating market spaces for the artisans where they can sell their idols in the city at many affordable prices and the money raised is used for their kid’s education and their family well being under ur supervision. We have been successfully sponsoring their kid’s education since the last 3 years and we have got them admitted in one of the top English medium schools in their locality

8. What are some of the long term objectives you would like to see completed?

We initially planned to sensitize people on education and environmental issues, we feel that we have achieved 50% of it as we can see the change and the impact created by our events where public adopt the practices and tend to follow them. In most of the programs, we have made people a part of the activities which helped them understand the mechanics of the issue and how we handle them. We would like to see that people are completely aware of the issues pertaining to education and environment completely and start implementing them in real time situations and this has to come right from school level.

9. What are the organization’s plans for future growth or change?

We are currently planning to expand our work areas and also start working on problems affecting a larger portion of the audience. We are looking forward to collaborating with state govt bodies and other institutions and providing solutions for real-time problems.

10. How much decision-making authority and autonomy are given to new employees?

We believe that the decision making autonomy should be given to all the members of the team and we abide by that. All the member are free to express their ideas and implement them in their own way (giving them all the powers to take it forward). We care for all the volunteers and we work towards their growth. We are very particular about what they take back from us and wish to see them as emerging leaders in society.

11. What makes this organization different from similar organizations?

The way we work – the working style of the organization, the energetic team we have completely made us different.
The issues we deal with – the way we pick up issues and the things we work on would be simple yet the most pressing problems. The execution of these problems and the mechanism we follow in terms of solving it would have an interesting approach so as to have a greater impact on different mindsets.

Inclusiveness– We also make the donors a part of the event rather than just accepting the donations so that they would know where the donations are going which would, in turn, improve the trust in the organization. We are not only concerned about the development of the audience we work for but also care about the development of each and every team member as we wish to see them as leaders.

12. If you could change one thing about this organization, what would it be?

Tho volunteer base/manpower being the main pillar of the organization, it is very important to recruit the right people who can align with the mission and vision of the organization and are passionate about the work. These volunteers are the ground level staff or the actual people who are the face of the organization, as already said if the working manpower can draw the belongingness to the cause they are working for, their contribution will be maximum and most impactful without the need of constant supervision.

13. What advice do you want to give to those individuals who are interested to join NGO’s and start NGO / charity organizations on their own?

For those who want to start an NGO or to start a charity organization, it is very important that they decide which issue they wanted to work on knowing the social stigma and cultural, socio and political sensitivities that the core issue is associated to. Most of the times, being not clear on what to work on, where to start with becomes a major challenge. Working contextually on the grassroots problem is required to address the issue to ensure the change to be sustainable. For someone aspiring to start an NGO alongside with a job, balancing personal life, job life and this work get really hectic unless events are well planned, otherwise, things will get messy and the contribution turns inadequate. Important things to be followed : (1) how much time can he/she allocate for these activities One has to have a proper work-life balance to be productive and to give the best result. Continuously working 24/7 takes some toll on the person somewhere, whereas it is advised one should give himself some relaxing time to follow their hobby, to be creative, to keep himself updated with the advancements happening in the sector he wanted to work with in order to be creative and this completely has a different approach and perspectives towards resolving issues. (2) what is the issue or problem you want to solve? One has to be clear about what is that pressing problem he/she is trying to solve and what do they consider is the major issue without being clear on this it docent make sense to start an organization. I would personally advise anyone to work in the existing NGOs before starting a new one to understand the gaps and to get hands-on experience and then decide to what issue to work on and what are the resources that are limited to them.

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