Natural diamonds are known to be earth’s most rare and unique creations that hold emotional value and rank amongst the most priceless possessions. While we are cognisant of the glamour, grandeur and the desirable facets of natural diamonds, not much is spoken and known about the modern diamond industry and its commitment to protecting and conserving ecosystems in the regions that they operate in. The industry has been passionately working towards making sustainability the core of mining and operations to give back as much as possible to the world.
One such Indian diamond manufacturing company known for its constant efforts towards changing lives through its social and environmental initiatives is Rosy Blue. Founded on the principles of diversity, integrity and accountability, Rosy Blue has pledged to adopt the UN’s Sustainable Development goals by integrating Corporate Social Responsibility within the business framework across all operations. Globally, the diamond manufacturer has established the Rosy Blue Foundation that has been leading projects helping not only the industry at large but also positively impacting communities.
One of the initiatives by the Rosy Blue Foundation (RBF) has been ConnectFor, an online platform developed to connect passionate individuals, who are willing to volunteer, with NGOs in need of support.
“ConnectFor began with a simple idea – to make volunteering easy, fun, convenient, structured and most importantly win-win for a cause.”– Maniti Shah, Founder of ConnectFor
Back in 2015, young entrepreneurs Shloka Ambani and Maniti Shah felt that volunteering was not able to reach its true potential as NGOs lacked sufficient resources and management skills to reach out to interested contributors.
We noticed NGOs were not being able to effectively communicate their volunteering requirements due to lack of time, resources and the right platforms/tools, while volunteers were not being able to find the right engagement to create impact and make a difference.
“Taking inspiration from an international organisation, we decided to bring the concept to India.”– Shloka Ambani, Founder of ConnectFor
Through our conversation with the founders, Shloka and Maniti we learn more about ConnectFor:
1. What are the causes supported by ConnectFor?
ConnectFor works with 500+ NGOs across 12 different cause areas to help with their volunteer requirements. The causes we work with are: Women empowerment; Education & Literacy; Welfare of Children, differently abled, and senior citizens; Animal Welfare; Environment & Sustainability; Community Development; Disaster Relief; LGBTQ+ and Youth Development.
2. Which cause has been the most popular so far?
The idea was to allow volunteers to work for a cause they are passionate about. In the last 6 years, we have observed that people are most excited about Education & Literacy, Welfare of Children, Community Development and Animal Welfare. Most people choose to volunteer for Children and Education.
3. Can you elaborate on the impact created by ConnectFor so far?
ConnectFor is relentlessly working with more than 500+ NGOs across India and has engaged 39,000+ volunteers who have volunteered for 130k hours. Through the efforts of volunteers, we have helped NGOs save over ₹5 Million. This value has been analytically measured. The platform has worked with 60+ corporate organisations and engaged over 10,000 employee volunteers.
4. Tell us more about how the natural diamond industry has helped contribute towards ConnectFor.
The natural diamond industry is where the idea of ConnectFor germinated, and where it got its initial funding from. While designing a mentorship-based employee engagement project for RBF, we discovered the need for a wider variety of options based on an employee’s skills, interests and convenience. Simultaneously while giving CSR grants from RBF, we came across fantastic NGOs that would not receive funds because they did not meet the basic requirements for corporate funding. We realised that if we could create a consolidated platform where skills could be matched with needs it would be a win-win for all. When we conducted our initial pilots, many of our volunteers were from the diamond industry, specifically employees of Rosy Blue India. Over time, as our platform grew, the diamond industry supported our efforts tremendously – signing up for volunteering, helping us organise several campaigns such as 100k Smiles, a blood donation drive, and of course, continuing throughout to be our primary donor.
Rosy Blue India also helped tremendously by sharing ancillary resources like accounting and legal support with our team to help us stay lean and focused on the task at hand!
5. What was the trigger to choose such a unique route to help people?
India’s attitude towards volunteering has been decidedly paradoxical. While some schools and colleges have mandatory service requirements, and corporates are actively organising one-off volunteering engagements for their employees, the culture of volunteerism has never fully developed. We believe it is essential to inculcate the spirit of volunteerism in the youth, to make them realise the value of human capital, going beyond the idea of simply just donating money. Offering people the right experience at the start of their social careers can lead to them becoming active philanthropists at a young age.
6. Which cause is closest to your hearts and why?
That would be difficult to say, but we think working towards building a solid ecosystem in the social sector and empowering people to contribute to change is something that we are working towards.
7. What is next for you at ConnectFor?
As we are on the brink of scalability and growth, we want to ensure that we don’t spread ourselves too thin and continue to create as much value while catering to larger volumes. We want to build a strong team of capable leaders who believe in our vision & goals and take us forward. We are steadily investing in building a more robust online tool for volunteer management, to help track every contributor’s journey and impact real-time. We are also looking at leveraging our position as aggregators for Non-profit organisations and seeing how ConnectFor can expand its scope beyond volunteering.