Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) takes on a whole new meaning at Sobha Developers, a company that distinguishes itself by not just being among the largest but also the only backward integrated real estate player in the country. Far from being regarded as a mere brand image booster, CSR at Sobha Group is a sincere devotion that stems out of genuine concern and the drive to provide comprehensive and sustainable social development to rural India.
It is in this context that, Sobha Developers under the aegis of Sri Kurumba Trust, initiated Graamasobha, a unique social developmental initiative for Vadakkenchery & Kizhakkenchery grama panchayaths in Palakkad district of Kerala in the year 2006. The entire BPL population of the two panchayaths, comprising about 2500 families, has been adopted through an in-depth scientific poverty mapping called Social Empowerment Mapping Exercise (SEME) to implement Vision 2020. The aim of this action plan is to achieve comprehensive and sustainable social empowerment of these families. The program covers key human development verticals like education, health, employment, water, sanitation and housing besides various social empowerment measures.
In the history of Indian villages, it is perhaps first of its kind initiatives, undertaken with so much investment for designing, developing and delivering state of the art infrastructure to the poorest of the poor without any discrimination of caste and creed. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated individual manning at the helm of the initiative, the lives of thousands of helpless citizens are getting positively transformed.
Graamasobha stands as a robust example for other prominent companies to follow and usher development at the village level.
Social Development Institutions and activities
Sobha Academy has been created to empower the rural poor to break away from the vicious circle of poverty, ignorance, deprivation and exclusion by providing their children the best of schooling possible anywhere in the world. Apart from offering high quality education, the benefits provided to the students include comprehensive support in terms of food, transportation, uniform, stationery, personal and academic accessories and much more.
A comprehensive health insurance programme has also been implemented, free of cost, to the families of the children studying at the Academy. To avoid any divide that may develop between students and their parents, efforts to enhance the basic education of parents are undertaken through a Social Empowerment Education Programme (SEEP).
Sobha Health Care Center
The Sobha Health Care Center has redefined the limits of a primary healthcare institution run anywhere in the country.
It aims to provide healthcare services to the students of the Sobha Academy and their families, the senior citizens of the Sobha Hermitage and the families who live below the poverty line in the adopted panchayaths. The centre has three full-time doctors, a qualified paramedical staff, a visiting dentist and an ophthalmologist. Additionally, there is a drug center that dispenses medicine free of cost to very poor patients.
The center will soon add a full-fledged Mobile Clinic, a multi-specialty hospital with special focus on maternity and paediatric care and a comprehensive medical insurance plan to its list of facilities.
Sobha’s old age home is the epitome of humanity, tendering love, care and support to the neglected segments of society - senior citizens as well as young widows and their children.
Residents reside in the secular and secure environment where they are offered food, clothing, shelter and premium resources and services, all free of cost.
Sobha Vocational Training Center
Sobha Vocational Training Center (SVTC) has advanced resources and facilities and aims at providing functional vocational training and paid apprenticeship in carpentry to youth from poor families. More trades are planned to be added in the near future. Direct and indirect employment is provided to hundreds through SVTC.
Various other centers have been established for Computer training, music training and tailoring.
Sobha Community Centre
The Sobha Community Centre is a beautiful and spacious edifice with a dining hall that can seat 300 people. While it is open for public use at a nominal fee, its core purpose lies in feeding the poor, several of whom are fed free every single day.
The centre also plays host to various community mobilization programmes including medical camps, orientation and training classes and social weddings. It will soon expand into a full-fledged social development centre at par with international standards.
Rural Women Empowerment
Social weddings are a practical response to the serious social problem faced by numerous women whose families are too poor to get them married. Sobha Foundation conducts social weddings that are free from the fangs of dowry and till date, has carried out 231 weddings. It helps approximately forty women get married each year and provides basic resources to the couples to help them begin their wedded life.
It has taken 49 widowed mothers and their 90 school going children belonging to the Kizhakkenchery Panchayath under their wing. They are provided with a basic monthly living allowance, clothing and other personal accessories.
Rising to other causes
Sobha Foundation has been highly active in providing relief to flood-hit families in Vadakkenchery and Kizhakkenchery Panchayaths. The families were provided assistance in the reconstruction of their houses. It also provides assistance for other projects such as maintaining community ponds, sponsoring sports personalities, etc.
All CSR programmes and projects embarked upon by Sobha Foundation are implemented in consultation with the local Panchayath authorities without placing any financial burden on them.
Sobha Group strongly believes that if an initiative like Gramasobha, in which adoption of one or two villages can be taken up by other corporate organisations, then it could change India’s poverty equation forever and bring about a sea change in the social fabric of this country.
Sobha will continue its strive for comprehensive and sustainable social development of rural India.