Archana runs an activity centre and home-based care programme for the elderly in India called Samvedna. Hindi for ‘compassion’, Samvedna provides elderly people with the opportunity to socialise, learn new skills and access support services.
Archana worked in the technology sector for over 20 years, but it wasn’t until she took a break from her career and became the primary caregiver to her elderly parents that she recognised the lack of support services for elderly people in India. Seeing both a need and an opportunity, Archana was keen to create a centre where ‘silver citizens’ could meet each other and engage in activities.
Despite Archana’s operational knowledge from her background in technology, she was unsure how to set up a business. When she joined the Mentoring Women in Business Programme in June 2013, she was looking for support to write a business plan and officially launch Samvedna.
Archana was matched with Grant, a leadership consultant and entrepreneur from Australia who founded a global online summit for professional women. Grant’s expertise in business planning, sales and marketing made a great match for Archana and the pair worked together for two years.
With Grant’s support, Archana registered the company and developed a business plan outlining her mission and vision. Together, they discussed Archana’s business model and created a dual revenue stream including membership for the activity centre and home visits for those unable to travel. The pair also created a marketing plan to help raise awareness about the need for elderly engagement and Grant encouraged Archana to use cost-effective resources to develop her marketing materials.
Since launching Samvedna in late 2013, Archana hired seven employees and reached over 1,500 elderly people through the centre’s activities and home visits. She has expanded the centre’s programming to include yoga, language classes and workshops on happiness and how to use a smart phone. Archana has also launched a support group and training programme on dementia for care givers, as she is passionate about spreading awareness about the disease and offering the best care possible.
The impact of Archana’s centre on the wellbeing of participating seniors is truly inspiring. Many report the joy of feeling part of a community again and how they’ve been able to overcome isolation and loneliness. Others speak of the benefits of her classes, including one participant who said her computer classes had enabled him to keep in touch with his family. She also gets positive feedback from the adult children of the seniors, who find peace of mind in knowing that their elderly parents have someone as caring as Archana looking after them.
Reflecting on her mentoring relationship with Grant, Archana said that his encouragement helped to increase her confidence as she navigated a new sector:
“My interactions with Grant have helped me think clearly about my business goals… I wouldn’t be where I am today without him!”
Archana registered part of Samvedna as a non-profit and looks forward to opening up new opportunities for funding and ensuring the sustainability of her services. She also plans to launch an outreach programme offering Alzheimer’s screening to under-privileged populations. Archana is optimistic about the future and continues to share her experiences with Grant.