Brihati Foundation, CSR Foundation of Claris Group, came into being in 2017, with the objective to uplift and empower individuals and communities by equipping them with the resources, training and confidence to ensure their own long-term sustainable development.
Guided by the vision of Krishna Handa, Brihati is committed to catalysing change, by applying creative solutions to age-old problems. At Brihati, it is believed that through unique, do-able and impactful interventions, individuals and communities can be empowered to create a people-friendly, sustainable and inclusive society.
While the primary focus of the Foundation has been on revitalisation of heritage public spaces, it also mentors entrepreneurial and innovative ideas through its .INC programme in a bid to promote and support technological innovations that would contribute towards larger societal welfare. The Foundation additionally champions innovative practices to promote urban biodiversity to fight rapid climate change.
Brihati’s initiatives also adapt to create maximum impact by actively engaging with those most affected by adverse changes in a dynamic environment, such as providing financial assistance during Covid-19 to marginalised, struggling micro entrepreneurs like farmers and vegetable vendors, who form the backbone of the economy.
The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately affected nano and micro entrepreneurs, especially women workers, who have low or no savings and no income source apart from daily wages. With restricted access to traditional finance and lack of essential skills for alternate jobs or livelihoods, these vulnerable small businesses of society are grappling to survive.
In line with our philosophy of creating maximum impact by actively engaging with the most affected by adverse changes in a dynamic environment, Brihati, in association with Samhita CGF, USAID, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF) and the Omidyar Network India, aims to impact many such women street vendors and farmers in Gujarat, by providing relief and a pathway to economic recovery for those affected by the pandemic.
The REVIVE Program, through a first-of-its-kind social finance mechanism - a returnable grant, provides accessible, affordable and risk-free capital to small, nano and micro enterprises in urgent need, and is positioned as ‘farti mudi’ (Gujarati for ‘revolving capital’), or an advance, to encourage repayment. The flexible repayment terms and only moral obligation for repayment, ensures reduced financial burden. Through blended finance and technical assistance facility, we also support up skilling, business training, access to government schemes, etc.
Funds are typically used to pay off the beneficiary’s past debts and for purchasing the resources required to move on with their businesses and daily needs. They have a positive impact on economic activity, self-employment, and household consumption, giving families and small businesses the agency to pay their dues, buy daily business supplies and invest in protective gear and other operations to sustain and thrive.
By aiding this vulnerable section of society, which serves as the backbone for the country’s economy, we envision a multiplier effect that impacts more people per rupee spent.
The Old City Revitalisation project, formerly known as Locale X Society (LXS) was initiated in 2018, and promotes holistic and comprehensive heritage preservation, instead of working on conservation alone. The project includes preservation of heritage houses by promoting adaptive and contemporary use to these structures as well as reviving and retaining the heritage or culture of the community itself through celebrations of the local festivals, capacity building and upgrading of skills.
Using the medium of workshops and knowledge exchanges through our association with international universities such as the ETSAM University (Polytechnic University of Madrid), Madrid, we work towards making heritage people-friendly, and vice versa.
We began with the Dhal ni Pol, and today, over 127sq.mt of dump area has been converted into public community spaces. Twenty two houses of heritage value have been restored, 1,500 potted plants installed, and a week-long Heritage festival has been organised along with heritage walks, community interaction and entertainment.
In 2019, we added the community development to the project, applying initiatives which engage community participation on a larger scale. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we redirected the focus on online participation of people through ‘Stay at Home’ competitions, as well as an online survey of the impact of the pandemic on the people of the Pol.
Project Kartavya, developed in 2017, is a waste management initiative at the institutional level, wherein wet waste is converted into manure, through waste composting stacks, ‘Orbins’. The project has been implemented at 11 institutions and has converted a total of 10,980kgs per month from them.
The project was conceptualised in 2017 to conserve biodiversity in urban spaces. The project has components of installation of vertical gardens, a toolkit of biodiversity booklets and seeds of plants, and imparts training sessions to children to maintain the gardens. Conducted over 30 different schools across the city of Ahmedabad, a total of 36 vertical gardens with 1260 medical plants have been planted along with a participation of 1200 students in training sessions.