Connect with us

Articles

Meet Papa Reji: The Man Who Adopted 22 HIV Positive Abandoned Children

Smruthi Kishore

Published

on

Meet Papa Reji: The Man Who Adopted 22 HIV-Positive Abandoned Children

Rajib Thomas lovingly called as Papa Reji, by his 22 adopted children who are HIV positive. He is an ordinary man who did extraordinary things and proved that he is his kid’s hero.

All of these kids have been living with 44-year-old Thomas along with his wife and two biological kids since a decade.

How it all started?

“It was in the year 2007, I met a girl lying outside a hospital who was also an HIV positive patient. I asked her what she wanted to eat, she replied noodles. Though I couldn’t arrange for what she asked on that day, I managed to get her that on the very next day. But I realized she was no more as she passed away the previous night,” said Mr. Rajib Thomas.

It was then he decided that he should do something for all those HIV positive patients who were abandoned by their parents only because they are HIV infected.

He later spoke Divya Mithale who is an HIV/AIDS specialist who helped him to adopt those abandoned children. At first, she arranged for him to take two newborn babies.

It was in 2009, he rented a big house to accommodate his family who included his wife, their two kids along with the two newborns.

Later on, people recognized his efforts and then started donating beds, food, and money to help them out.

Eventually, his family started expanding and now the number counts 22 kids.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the support and efforts of his wife Mini. She cooks all the three meals of the day for all the kids. She says: “We make sure none of the kids feel left out,  we scold them like our kids and love them equally.”

Papa Reji aka Rajib Thomas exclaimed: “These kids call me papa and I’m not doing anything great as it any other father’s duty to take care of his child.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Articles

Byju’s Joins India’s Unicorn Club

Ramya GovindRaj

Published

on

India’s elite billion dollar startup club just found it’s 11th member. Education technology based startup Byju’s quietly joined the Unicorn club with a valuation of Rs. 6,505 crores based on its latest capital infusion. According to filings with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Byju’s last funding round by China’s Tencent and BCCL attributed to this increase in valuation.

However, the biggest online education startup had a very humble beginning. While working in a UK based shipping firm, Byju Raveendran helped a few friends prepare and pass the Common Admission Test (CAT.) According to Raveendran, “They came to me for help in CAT because they knew me as someone who’s good in cheating in exams. They don’t use the word but they knew me as someone with short-cuts and exam hacks.

The shortcuts and exam hacks seem to have served him well in the long run. What started off in a small room was moved into large halls, conference rooms and auditoriums and at one point even a stadium. By 2007, through word of mouth, Raveendran began teaching close to 1000 students. From teaching students in Bengaluru to traveling to 9 cities in a week to teach, Raveedran’s fame spread like wildfire. In 2009, he started using video formats for CAT training classes and other similar entrance exams.

Finally, in 2011, Raveendran formed the company called Think & Learn which would focus on the primary and secondary education for publicly supported school grades prior to college. The Byju’s learning application was then developed with the help of his students who graduated from the Indian Institutes Of Management (IIMs.) The fully formed Byju’s Learning App was launched in 2015 which included core learning products for students from standard 4 to standard 12. The basic aim of these products was to make education and learning effective as well as interesting.

Today, Byju’s offers training and learning programmes for test preparation for JEE, AIPMT, CAT, IAS, GRE and GMAT along with programmes for classes 6 through 12. The Byju’s Learning App is used by 15 million users with 900,000 paid annual subscriptions with an annual renewal rate as high as 90%. For the financial year, 2016 – 2017, the edutech firm turned profitable, reporting more than 100% growth in terms of revenue.
Raveendran’s (and Byju’s by extension) teaching style is very non interactive and involves no back and forth between teacher and student. However,  the company prides itself on the high production values and visual appeal of the content and visual aids that enables the explaining of concepts better than a teacher with a blackboard. Students learn on their own, thereby, breaking the vicious cycle of memorising, replicating and forgetting soon after the exam.
However, like every entrepreneur, Raveendran faced his fair share of challenges as well. One of these major challenges was the perception among parents who think students need to follow a certain way of exam based learning and need to be spoon fed. In the long run, Byju wants to make quality education accessible to a large audience by integrating education with technology. 
Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s investment arm The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) also invested in this firm, making it their first investment in the Indian startup ecosystem. Along with CZI, the edutech startup also counts Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Ventures and Times Internet Ltd., as their investors. 

Byju’s, which has already established its presence in the Middle East is also in plans to expand into the US, the UK, South Africa and other African and Commonwealth markets. With about 2,300 employees including about 800 in its product team, Byju’s has provided students an easily accessible platform for students to learn and not just study. Byju Raveendra calls himself an “entrepreneur by chance,” however, following the growth and success of Byju’s, I think it is safe to say that this teacher has truly found his calling in both academics and entrepreneurship. 

Continue Reading

Articles

How Ola Was Started

Ramya GovindRaj

Published

on

How Ola Was Started,Startup Stories,Inspirational Stories 2018,Technology News 2018,Motivational Stories,Indian Startup Success Stories,Ola Cabs Success Story,Inspiring Success Story of Bhavish Aggarwal,Ola Inspiring Story,Bhavish Aggarwal Life Journey,Ola History

The Indian taxi hailing industry is valued to be close to $10 billion. A lucrative and relatively untapped market such as this is bound to attract a lot of attention from entrepreneurs in India and around the world. Capitalising on this opportunity, Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati launched India’s very own cab hailing startup, Ola.

The idea behind Ola came to Bhavish Aggarwal after he found himself stranded in the middle of the road on his way to Bandipur from Bangalore. Bhavish’s cab driver stopped the car in the middle of the journey and demanded a renegotiation of what Bhavish was paying and then proceeded to abandon him by the side of the road. Understanding the plight of travellers everywhere, he saw the amount of potential that an extraordinary cab booking service could have in this country. In 2010, he changed his business model from a holiday and tour planning company to a taxi hailing firm.

Joined by his co founder Ankit Bhati, Ola was launched in December 2010 as Ola Cabs. The taxi aggregator efficiently bridges the gap between cab owners and commuters adding a touch of technology to make lives and transportation easier. The company partners with drivers and cab owners to offer a variety of cab services to commuters across India. Leveraging the best of technology and building innovative solutions, the company expanded to reach 50+ cities by 2015. Serving 200,000 rides per day, which roughly translated to 6 million riders per month, the taxi hailing startup grew at a rate of over 40%.

However, the Ola journey was not as smooth as booking a cab on the app. In 2012, both the founders got a wake up call in the form of a website outage. Ankit Bhati, the Chief Technology Officer, who was in Bangalore at the time had to stay on call the entire night with the one man technology team in Mumbai to solve the issue. But that did not stop the duo. They shifted base from Mumbai to Bangalore and launched their mobile app, stepping up their game. The first version of the app, however, was a one touch destination for booking cabs.

Further, in 2015, the company also launched Ola Fleet, a cab lending arm, which operates as a subsidiary of ANI Technologies Pvt., Ltd., Ola’s parent company. By September 2015, the company was valued at $5 billion. In 2016, the company launched another flagship service Ola Play which became the world’s first connected car platform, transforming the commuting experiences and setting the tone for global innovation in this space. By the end of the year, started facing competition from Uber and another homegrown company TaxiForSure. Nevertheless, Ola persevered. The startup acquired TaxiForSure, launched another flagship service Ola Auto and continues to battle against Uber to become the majority shareholder of the market.

Currently, the company offers 11 services in over 106 cities and also launched its services in Australia. The company is backed by international venture capital firms like SoftBank, Tencent, Microsoft and eBay among others. According to latest reports, Ola is in talks with Singapore sovereign fund Temasek, to raise $1 billion in fresh funding. As of November last year, Ola is expected to be valued at close to Rs. 23,112 crores or $3.46 billion.

Bhavish Aggarwal’s journey from almost beginning a tourism company to establishing India’s biggest taxi hailing startup looks like a dream of every aspiring entrepreneur in the country. If anything, Ankit Bhati and Bhavish Aggarwal’s story is proof that anything is possible if you have the will and the determination to start your journey.  Two IIT B-Tech graduates who started their careers in Microsoft and other startups have acquired 3 startups till date and raised more than $350 million from existing as well as new investors. The success story of Ola is the motivation everyone needs to book your next ride and start your own journey.

Continue Reading

Articles

Arunachalam Muruganantham: India’s Social Entrepreneur And Menstruation Man

Ramya GovindRaj

Published

on

While a majority of men and women in many urban cities of India still consider the menstrual cycle a taboo, this man from Coimbatore changed the perspective of millions of women in rural India. Arunachalam Muruganantham, also know as PadMan, in an effort to impress his wife decided to produce sanitary napkins himself. Little did he know that a few years down the line, his whole world would be turned upside down, from almost getting a divorce to becoming the first man to wear a sanitary pad.

The initial idea seemed simple enough. Buy cotton, cut it in the size of a regular pad and wrap it using a thin layer of cotton. However, the feedback he received from his wife was devastating. His homemade pad was useless and she would rather continue using old rags. He did not stop there. He first enlisted his sisters to test his pads. When they refused, he visited a local medical school and asked the girls studying in those colleges. When they also eventually stopped helping, he created a makeshift uterus using a football bladder and goats blood to test the sanitary napkins himself.

When the neighbours started complaining about a foul smell and stained clothes, his wife left him and went to live with her mother. But, it was no longer about helping his wife anymore. Arunachalam was on a mission to produce low cost sanitary pads for all the girls and women in his country.

A school dropout from Coimbatore, Arunachalam challenged an age old taboo and changed a fiercely competitive industry with his cheap and affordable good quality sanitary napkins. After years of research, lots of sacrifices, a great deal of hard work and the willpower to succeed, he successfully created a low cost machine for the production of sanitary pads. His easy to use machines, priced at $ 950, created a revolution in India challenging the $ 500,000 imported machines. More than a decade later, his single product has helped employ more than 7000 women in rural India, selling 1,300 machines to 27 states in India and 6 countries.

However, the man behind the ‘Second White Revolution’ is still as humble as ever. Startup Stories had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Arunanchalam Muruganantham about his surreal journey. Speaking about his experiences and his journey, he says, “I feel grateful for what has happened so far it is what has made me what I’m today.” Despite changing the lives of over 3.5 million women in rural India, Arunachalam feels there’s still a long way to go. “Awareness is missing. But things do have changed compared to 2 decades before.. still a long way to go.” He further adds, “Menstrual hygiene is totally connected to a women’s health and lifestyle. Sanitary pad does play a role. We have over 80+% women not taking care of themselves. A lot of efforts needed to make them use hygienic practice.

However, Arunachalam feels the Government can help boost this movement forward. “Tax has increased the price of pads. But still. Cost is one side of the coin. Government can make it tax free – the loss they might incur is not a loss at all as making pads affordable and accessible will make more women healthy – that is a greatest asset of the nation. Women strong – country strong.”

We could not agree with him more! India is a country that has seen some extremely powerful women in the leading roles. Nevertheless, like they say, there is strength in numbers and only when men and women work together, will this revolution be validated.  It takes a lot of strength, courage and determination to take such a brave step forward. Startup Stories wishes Mr. Arunachalam Muruganantham all the best for his dream of making all the women of India use sanitary napkins.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Recent Posts