NRI billionaire entrepreneur Manoj Bhargava to give Rs 500 crore for Uttarakhand’s development

NRI billionaire entrepreneur Manoj Bhargava, one of the few Indians to sign the ‘The Giving Pledge’, is set to announce a plan to give Rs 500 crore over six years for a development programme in Uttarakhand.

Bhargava, who is one of the richest Indians in America, has already given more than Rs 300 crore to over 151 organisations across India, with 406 completed or ongoing projects in the areas of healthcare, education, disability, livelihood, water and sanitation, in the past five years, through The Hans Foundation (THF).

The foundation will on Tuesday announce the Rs 500-crore ‘investment’ in Uttarakhand 2020, a comprehensive statewide development programme focusing on disease prevention, child education and forest regeneration in Uttarakhand.

“We have created pockets of change in each of the 25 states where THF has worked. We are now pooling the best of what we have learned and scaling it up in Uttarakhand,” says Bhargava.

“By the year 2020, we aim to create a massive change across Uttarakhand in one of the nation’s most powerful village development programmes,” says Bhargava, who has visited India regularly in the past five years.

Bhargava is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder & CEO of Living Essentials, which sells ‘5-hour Energy’ shots. Retail sales are estimated to be in the vicinity of $1 billion.

Early in his life, Bhargava did a variety of jobs and worked as a construction labourer, construction cleaning contractor, accounting clerk, taxi driver, printing press operator and business manager before he became a billionaire entrepreneur riding on the success of Living Essentials.

His foundation chose Uttarakhand as “it is the cradle of Indian civilisation, and a place most in need of large-scale development initiatives”. The project is designed to significantly improve the quality of life of the low-income communities of the state.

Energy, water and health are the most critical elements for people, says Bhargava, adding, “Charity is very difficult to do right. Thinking through what people need: You can’t start a charity without that. It’s like starting a business without the product.”

The Hans Foundation is a charitable trust fund that was created in 2009 to provide a source of endowment for not-for-profit organisations in India. As one of India’s largest funds, THF provides grants and financial aid to grassroots organisations that are able to directly serve communities and also partners with larger international organisations for increased impact and large-scale work. Till August 2014, the foundation worked with partners to impact the lives of close to 600,000 people.

Bhargava’s foundations include Knowledge Medical Charitable Trust and Rural India Charitable Trust. Both have funded medical research in the US and over 400 charities in India. Two of the major initiatives are hospitals for the poor and education for disadvantaged women in rural areas.