Image Courtesy: Arpan CSA
“Entrepreneurs have a mind-set that sees the possibilities rather than the problems created by change.”
This quote beautifully describes the journey and conviction of Pooja Taparia, the founder of Arpan. Her courage to dream of a change which will positively affect the lives of millions of children and ensure that they are protected from malice like child sexual abuse has supported her cause to evolve from an idea to a well-structured and evolved organization with time tested models of intervention on the issue of child sexual abuse.
She’s the Founder and Chief Executive of Arpan, an NGO based in Mumbai with a mission to prevent the occurrence of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and heal those who have been affected by it. She started work on CSA in 2006 and has grown the team from 3 to 60 professionals (the largest team in India) who run various activities, workshops, teaching, training and counselling services to deal with CSA.
As a student she spent much of her free time going around her circle of relatives and neighbours with raffle tickets, collecting for the blind, the handicapped, orphanages, old age homes, etc. As she grew, she spent considerable amount of time with mentally challenged children at the SPJ Sadhana School. She taught these children arts and crafts as well as basic office administration with the intention to provide them with skills to become independent. Creating small ripples of change and happiness in the lives of people in need gave immense satisfaction and personal purpose to her, which continues to be her primary motivators even today.
She’s a graduate in Applied Art/Graphic Design and in Commerce. Coming from a business family she’s an entrepreneur, having invested considerable time in setting up her family business and managing a number of high-profile freelance design print and web media projects for companies and individuals. However, she has spent most of her professional career working in social change and development. She has spent over 8000 hours working in the voluntary sector, mainly investing her time, expertise and resources with an educational institute based in Gujarat, India. Arpan has so far helped over 130,000 children and adults directly through its services and over 530,000 individuals indirectly through trainings and advocacy. Arpan has won multiple awards for its exemplary work and high organisational standards including the India NGO Award 2011, Global NGO Excellence Award 2015 and the Dasra Girl Power Award 2014-15.
Her commitment towards working on the issue of child sexual abuse and her diligence as a young entrepreneur was starting to get recognized and won her a lot of accolades from seniors and peers and she was selected as an UnLtd investee every year for 3 years continuously with UnLtd India, which is an incubator agency for start-up social entrepreneurs. UnLtd India has a unique methodology of support wherein they combine the financial support with a lot of valuable non-financial support like trainings, expert advice, mentoring etc. She strongly believes that it is largely this association with UnLtd India that has helped her develop herself and Arpan in a more holistic manner. It is here that she claims that she was introduced to the entire gamut of NGO management including formulation of strategic road-maps, preparing budgets, donor and human resource management and leadership. Her openness to learning and absorbing advice like a sponge from experts has been critical to the speedy growth of her work.
I think one of the biggest advantages for me was that I didn’t know anything about the social sector. So, when I began work I looked to seniors and experts in the sector for advice and followed what they said. My ignorance and openness to learning helped me greatly.