Ronnie Screwvala puts profit first in social impact ventures

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

MUMBAI: Ronnie Screwvala, the managing director of Walt Disney India, logs in 70 hours a week for the entertainmentcompany and yet devotes 10-15 hours to philanthropy and social impact businesses. “Whatever one makes from the business, 10-15% should always go back to society,” he says.

Screwvala has ample cash to do this: 2,000 crore that he earned by selling his 50%, held via UTV, in Walt Disney India to its American parent. He is directing his philanthropic initiatives towards villages in Maharashtra and is also investing in companies that service those very markets, thus positioning himself at both the demand and supply ends.

“The two are not interdependent,” maintains Screwvala. “I could have done either, but since I have the resources now, I can do both. Whatever we have done till date is from our personal wealth and it has nothing to do with CSR (corporate social responsibility).”

Screwvala’s philanthropy initiatives are housed under the Swades Foundation, which is a jumpstart version of erstwhile SHARE (Society to Heal Aid Restore Educate) Foundation founded by him about 15 years ago for rural development. While SHARE had a team of 20, this has grown to about 200 under Swades.

With a 365-degree approach to rural development, Swades aims to provide healthcare, education, clean water, sanitation and rural livelihood to a million people. It has a five-year outlay of 1,000 crore, with Screwvala contributing half and raising the remaining from outside.

Source: The Economic Times (link opens in a new window)

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