“Not many people have the opportunity to do work that they love and are passionate about” says Partha Raghunathan, co-founder of Bloom & Give. “I feel very fortunate to do this work”.
Have you ever wondered how you could make your life more meaningful and find a way to give back to do good? It is a question many of us have asked ourselves yet few have dared to do. For Partha Raghunathan and Madhu Rajendran, two Indian-born men living in Texas and working in the tech field, it was the desire to do good and help others that eventually lead them both to leave their comfortable positions as engineers at a tech company and start a new socially minded business together called Bloom & Give.
Bloom & Give sells beautifully handcrafted scarves and bags made in India using techniques passed on from generation to generation. However, what makes Bloom & Give so unique is their mission: To change girls’ lives through education in some of the most gender inequal areas in India. Although both Partha and Madhu are Indian, they have lived in the United States for over twenty years and confessed they are a bit removed from some of India’s social issues. It took a trip to India with a good friend to the state of Rajasthan to seal their fate.
I had the opportunity to speak with Partha and Madhu to learn more about their amazing business and journey together to change girls lives in India. It was a fascinating conversation with lots of laughs as well as delightful inspiration to hear how they were able to find a higher meaning and value in their work. Here is their story.
MADE IN INDIA, WITH LOVE
It all began during a visit back to India with one of their good friends, an American textile designer named Hallie Gray. Partha and Madhu, friends for over twenty years and fathers of daughters, traveled to Rajasthan to help Hallie source her products. During the trip, they had their first exposure to block printing, an art that had been around for over 5,000 years and is still practiced today. It was breathtaking to watch and life-changing for Partha and Madhu.
While spending time with the artisans, they learned more about their lives and realized that girls education was a huge issue in that region of India. Both fathers of daughters, they realized how fortunate their girls were to be receiving a good education in the United States while many girls in India do not have the same opportunity. It was a pivotal moment that eventually lead to the creation of Bloom & Give.
Partha and Madhu were at first nervous about entering this new space of creating products for women and giving back to girls education. Typically owners of such companies are women, not men. Yet after much thought they realized that creating Bloom & Give would be a way for them to give back and truly change things in India.
Partha mused, “Between us, we have three amazing daughters. Each day, we watch them develop confidence, learn new skills and become self-reliant by going to school. They validate our deep-rooted belief that education is a fundamental right for every girl — no matter where in the world she lives. That’s why we donate 50% of all Bloom & Give profits to girls education programs in India”.
Partha and Madhu were so inspired by the beauty of the region of Rajasthan’s timeless handmade goods, that they decided to source their beautiful products from the region as well as give back to the community. All of their products are made by local artisans in Rajasthan, India who use techniques that have been passed down for generations. Bloom & Give pairs modern design by their US design team with traditional artistry to create beautiful products for everyday life.
Each product is designed in the US by one of Bloom & Give’s designers, and made in India with love.
Give Back by Sending Girls to school
Education has been shown to be the most effective way to change these girls’ future. Research shows that educating girls is one of the most effective ways to end poverty and fight gender inequality which remain high in parts of India such as Rajasthan. When a girl goes to school, she earns more money, has healthier children, and reinvests more in her family. An education changes her life, and the lives of generations to come.
Bloom & Give donates 50% of their profits to support girls education programs in India through their partner Educate Girls. Educate Girls, a non-profit organization, works in the state of Rajasthan where 40% of girls leave school before completing 5th grade. Since its founding in 2007, Educate Girls has helped nearly 80,000 girls return to the classroom. Their award-wining model included 4,500 local volunteers who visit out-of-school girls at home and help them re-enroll. These volunteers also serve as mentors and tutors, helping girls improve academically and stay in school.
“To change the world, you need to create women who can make it happen, and it starts with educating the girl” – Madhu Rajendran, co-founder of Bloom & Give
Bloom & Give gives 50% of their profits to educate girls and every purchase helps send a girl to school in India.
A brief video from “Educate Girls”
In this video, the Skoll Foundation visits Safeena Husain of Educate Girls in India, where she is investing in the promise of girls.This video debuted on the big screen at the 2015 Skoll Awards Ceremony, April 16, 2015, before Safeena went on stage to receive her award from Skoll Foundation Founder and Chairman Jeff Skoll and President and CEO Sally Osberg.
In recent years, India has enacted policies and invested in girls’ education, resulting in dramatic gains in access to education. However, in many areas, as you will see when you watch, community expectations and accountability for educating girls remain low—a majority of girls do not complete their primary education.
Safeena founded Educate Girls to ensure that girls in India’s most marginalized rural communities are able to achieve their full potential. Educate Girls partners with public schools, trains local champions for girls education, and mobilizes communities to create their own action plans to make education more accessible and accountable to girls.
Since 2007, Educate Girls has grown from a 50-school pilot project into a large-scale effort reaching 1 million children in 7,500 schools. With plans to achieve even greater scale over the next few years, Educate Girls is preparing a generation of young women to enter the formal economy and help lift their families out of poverty. (Content source: Scroll.org)
About the founders
Partha Raghunathan and Madhu Rajendran were both born in India and came to the United States over 20 years ago to complete their education in engineering. They met at a tech firm they worked at in Texas and have been close family friends ever since. They are fathers of three daughters between the two of them and have been passionate about giving back and supporting girls education through their company, Bloom & Give. To learn more about their team, please click here.
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