Shaifalika Panda is trustee and CEO of Bansidhar and Ila Panda Foundation, the CSR arm of Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys (IMFA). She spoke to us about the company’s initiatives and efforts in the social development sector.
Q. Your work with the CSR leg of IMFA is exemplary and noteworthy to say the very least. How did this calling unfold?
A. It was around 2008 and the calling unfolded over the course of next few years. I was a successful entrepreneur then. But it was a period in time when my father was in and out of hospitals. It gave me an opportunity to converse and connect with people from all walks of life. I started delving into a broad spectrum of people from marginalised sections of our society—understanding their pain, their needs, their suffering and more importantly, how one could work towards alleviating and impacting at the very least, some households. That’s when I took the decision to switch into the social development space
Q. When you joined your family company IMFA’s CSR leg, what were the changes and the implementation schemes you brought about to facilitate development?
A. Our company IMFA has been giving back to society since its inception. I was lucky to leverage 50 years of their legacy in social commitment and development, and modernised the approach to make all of our programmes strategic and sustainable in their outcome. We have kept our focus on areas like preventive health, livelihood, women’s empowerment. We also set up the Bhansidhar and Ila Pande Foundation in addition to IMFA CSR. We have partnered with NGOs for mother and child health programmes. We also work closely with MORD Ministry in implementation of skill programs. We have transformed five districts in Orissa.
Q. You prefer working with women. Can you share some interesting anecdotes with us?
A. My focus on women comes from the reality of inequality and gender discrimination. I firmly believe when you change the life of a woman, you change the life of her children as well.
Q. You have developed and implemented a project called Unnati in Orissa as your CSR work is based there. Tell us about it.
A. It is a project which I designed myself. It’s about teaching these women life skills in subjects related to malnutrition, health, hygiene, water sanitation and the importance of education, thereby enabling social inclusion. It’s a self-help group.
Q. When you work for women and the gen next who have a desire to enter the social sector, what is your motivator?
A. Having been lucky enough to work as a very successful entrepreneur and now being able to transform lives, I can tell that there is no greater satisfaction than seeing the smiling faces of those people’s lives and knowing that you have been able to bring a change. Today, we are at 2 lakh 75,000. And the love, the gratitude, the joy they feel and shower upon you is priceless. I truly believe that the future lies in social enterprise and my advice to gen next is that this sector will keep you gainfully employed, as well as do a deep meaningful service to humanity… With the end game being the satisfaction of having done something great.