I began my career in consulting and private equity, and after moving into development, I found that people seemed to divorce these two sectors, but for me, they have gone hand in hand. I started working for the GMSP Foundation full time two years ago. The Foundation was set-up by our parents Ramesh and Pratibha Sachdev in 2006 to identify the needs and invest strategically in women and girls in India and the UK.
At GMSP, we use the same criteria to assess NGO partners as we do investment opportunities. I’m sure you have heard many times, about the power of data, dynamic leadership and impact assessment. We want to focus on the power of listening and how central it is to our family values and to our Foundation.
Listening is the sister of dignity and respect. Listening to advisors and other people who are further ahead on their journey. Also listening to the grassroots organisations we are working alongside. On a recent trip to Mumbai, I spoke to a young woman who was being beaten by her husband. She had refused help from one of our NGO partners as she didn’t want to prosecute her husband. A community organisation had also stepped in to try and curb the violence but sadly was not successful. This young woman did not want to leave her husband and she wanted to tell someone why. So I listened to her story. Those 15 minutes changed me; but what stayed with me the most was what she shared at the end. She said everybody is so busy trying to find a solution that nobody has really listened to me. That outlet seemed to be the stepping-stone in her journey to rehabilitation.
In my work at the Foundation, I’ve learned that often it is the small seemingly intangible things that lead to an improved outcome. A tiny step, that may have seemed insignificant at the time, ends up navigating your whole journey. It is the small brush strokes that end up creating the masterpiece.
As we reaffirm our commitment to listening and working with projects – old and new – and help empower women and girls in all walks of life, we invite all you change makers out there to share your stories on our blog hosted on our new website www.gmspfoundation.org.
Let’s collaborate, listen and learn…
Sonal Sachdev Patel