Senior home in India
April 3, 2012 9:41 AM   Subscribe

How to start an old age home for seniors in India?

My goal is to one day build an old age home for seniors in India. This is different from the US concept as it will basically be a home for all the poor, underprivileged seniors who have been abandoned by their families and are mostly begging on the streets and have no one to care for them.

My question is more around financial and logistical part of it. How do you start something like this with say $500K and ensure that the money keeps coming in for years?

If someone knows of existing institutions like this in India, please let me know.
posted by pakora1 to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'd spend some of the money (like 1%) to get some professional's help. Find someone who cares for your idea and ask them to participate financially. 500k USD is enough money to not just give it a try. Theres a whole industry (sorry ;) of non-profit experts.
posted by oxit at 9:48 AM on April 3, 2012

ensure that the money keeps coming in for years?

I never worked in India and never worked with the elderly, but the trick is generally in teaching new skills or applying known ones, to reduce the organization's need for external funding or help it generate its own revenue. This will depend a lot on your region and the cultural appropriateness of the ideas. Things I can point out from other groups in other places:
- growing their own food for consumption at the home
- producing food for external sale (goat cheese, honey...)
- crafts, non-necessary items (jewelry...)
- crafts, more practical items (sandals, baskets, pottery)
- manual skills, anything from massage (a school for the blind) to haircuts to... ?

Projects like this are becoming de riguer in projects expected to be sustainable in the long term. The concept of "donor fatigue" is very real, and sustainability is becoming more and more important in funding decisions. Having your own source of revenue also permits some greater freedom in expenditures that many donors do not want to cover, like travel or salaries.

Another bonus to this kind of structure is 1) keeping your flock of seniors busy and entertained together and 2) having something as part of the "exchange" in providing the service. We don't value what we get entirely for free, after all ("studies show...").

But long before that, you really need to have on-the-ground experience with this demographic and groups who work with them. How did they end up where they are? Would this kind of service be useful to them? How could it be useful? Why doesn't one exist yet? This should involve stops to other NGOs, the government, and most importantly, the type of people you would want to work with and in the region you plan to work (as I expect the issues and expectations would not be similar everywhere even within India alone). Even if you are Indian born-and-lived-forever, you will be surprised at the amount of disconnect that there can be between the middle class life and someone living on the fringes of society. The on-the-ground research will help you better shape your idea and put together an attractive "business plan" as well as find the appropriate funding agencies and connections.

Good luck.
posted by whatzit at 10:29 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Look for them in Benaras (Varanasi) - where they cater for abandoned widows - or other places of pilgrimage like Haridwar (hardwar also), Vrindavan etc as this pattern follows the old one of withdrawing from the world into meditation. Meaning that such type of old age homes are more likely to found in the traditional places of pilgrimage or those considered holy and/or temple towns.
posted by infini at 11:01 AM on April 3, 2012

How do you start something like this with say $500K and ensure that the money keeps coming in for years?

Years of dedicated, hard work is the only way to succeed in a project like this, there is no easy way to just set out a sum of money and do something up front that will continue on its own.

Unless you are going to be in India, working directly with the people you wish to serve with your project, I do not recommend trying to start this from ground zero (I say this as someone who has been running a nonprofit from a remote location in another country). I would strongly suggest finding a local group that uses a participatory program design and is doing a great job, and support them, instead of starting your own thing.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:07 AM on April 3, 2012

The Sweekar/Upkaar institutions in Hyderabad, India have been around for a decade and is a well-known non-profit. Sweekar is a non-profit for rehabilitating physically and mentally handicapped children, while Upkaar is a sister non-profit [under the same management] for senior citizens.

I came to know of them through a company I worked with had a vendor in India who did annual fund-raisers for this institution.

You may want to setup a trust, which will work with such institutions on an annual basis. This will allow you to choose and distribute any amounts to charities of your choice, since 500K is a lot of money - you can invest in safe funds (like Govt bonds) and use the interest/dividends to support charities.

The URL for Sweekar is at [a direct link for Upkaar is at ]
posted by theobserver at 3:11 PM on April 3, 2012

Read everything by Lawrence Cohen, especially No Aging in India
posted by blue_bicycle at 3:54 PM on April 3, 2012

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