Life might take turn in any way, so grab the opportunity when it knocks your door!
“One can never estimate the importance of moments. No one can ever tell which moment can turn life into a better one”
Mr. Niraj Borate was looking for an opportunity to unleash his leadership qualities to set foot in the social and developmental sector. The idea of learning on wheels through sessions, activities and interactions with the role models made me excited to join LEAD Prayana 2014. That is how I became part of the LEAD and Deshpande family after which everything was history!
“After my LEAD Prayana, in just 15 days of my life, I have become the person I always wanted to be, I became a LEADer and began my work in Pune,” says Mr. Niraj. He started off with a few projects such as “Recognising the unrecognized”
“I believe that women are an integral part of our lives, they work without any break for their families, society and friends. So, on “International Women’s Day” under the initiative Recognizing the Unrecognized I along with a team of 41 LEADers from various colleges in Pune touched more than 4800 lives of women by felicitating them. As a team, we identified special women before 8th March with the help of a few governments, private and local organizations. On 7th and 8th, March LEADers appreciated all the women by giving the certificates and thanked them heartily with a self-signed thanking and appreciating letters.
Kargil Victory Day Celebration
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee beaming with pride declare the 26th July 1989 as Kargil Vijay Divas to honour the victory over Pakistan. To commemorate the Kargil victory, an event was held in Everest International School, Pune. Mr. Niraj says he was immensely proud and surprised the way he got the response from the school children. Indian army is famous for the independence and discipline in their lives, to establish in the children’s lives is the need of this hour. As part of this event, Niraj had distributed sweet corns as snacks and asked to boil them to indulge the dependency in these children. The event was followed by drawing competitions, rally and speech by ex-army men. At the end of the project, Niraj wanted to instil pride and honour in all the students. With this project, he made sure that every student and people around these students understand the importance of having belief in the better India.
Spreading a smile by celebrating women’s day
As it has been mentioned before, Mr. Borate has a strong opinion for women being the best part of the society and he believes that bringing a smile on the faces of these hardworking women is nothing less than being in heaven. Pune is known as one among the clean city and the credit should be given to the workers who work their socks off to keep it the same way. Mr. Niraj and his team came up with a very simple idea of appreciating these women by giving them roses, gloves and masks. Instead of visiting them and giving them these things, the team thought to conduct an event. For this event, every penny spent was funded by the college students. On concluding note, after this event, when he witnessed the satisfaction and happiness on all the women’s faces, Niraj knew that his and the team’s efforts were finally reached the expectations. From this initiative, he realized that every small step we take to make someone happy is worth any risk!
He never stopped. He initiated a project called Blanket Bank in the year 2014 at Pune. He was able to collect more than 5000 blankets which benefited around 2000 families. When he was completing small projects to help society, he learnt the importance of medical facilities and without giving any second thoughts to this idea he started working on conducting medical camps in Pune. He has conducted 10 medical camps in Pune and Mumbai in the year 2014 which benefited around 20,000 people.
When Niraj was doing these projects which helped the society he realized his worth. That was the time when he understood that if being alone I can do these simple initiatives and get such huge impact then why not inspire other students to join this program. Again, this very simple idea, with a good motive, made him join LEAD as his profession after completing his engineering from Pune. We all know that Pune is considered as the educational, cultural and social hub and Niraj knew that he will get a positive response from Pune. He wanted to share the platform with other students who were willing to find some exposure, to do something extraordinary or to work for the benefit of society.
“LEAD has most of the credits for the person I have become today and I cannot keep myself away from this platform at any point of time in my life. You will always see me at LEAD Yuva Summit as a LEADer interacting with other LEADers”, says Mr. Niraj Borate.
According to Niraj Borate, LEAD provides a platform for extraordinary ideas and believes in those creators. He says, “LEAD is focusing more on a sustainable approach to prepare social leaders in a more holistic way”. If anyone believes and wants to work on creative impact LEAD can provide the best opportunity as they work for the society in order to achieve sustainable development goals.
“There are millions of artists in India whose indigenous art forms and traditional crafts are dying. This is due to inadequate market ecosystems and lack of support for these artisans. There is also a lack of awareness about the history and legacy of these crafts amongst the general consumers in India, let alone international consumers. The newer generation of these artisans is now moving away from these art forms due to these issues and lack of economic incentives. This is a major social problem as not only are these art and crafts dying and their legacy fading, even the existing artisans make low wages and face economic hardships”, says Mr. Niraj Borate. That is when the MotherQuilts came along his way. Niraj has cofounded MotherQuilts which basically working on building an economically sustainable and socially empowered community for traditional Indian artisans, specifically Indian hand-quilters. They connect artisans to socially aware consumers, worldwide. Through this platform, they sell original and premium quality handcrafted products directly from the artisans. Now, in the present MotherQuilt is working with over 350 artisans from 9 states of India. The work by artists is not only appreciated in India but also loved by socially conscious customers in 19 countries including USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Dubai.
MotherQuilts started in the year 2014, since then they have created sustainable employment opportunities for more than 350 artisans across 9 states of India. They regularly train women artisans as the results of which over 1700 women artisans have cumulatively stitched 7000 quilts over the last 4 years. This has led to economic opportunities and sustenance of hundreds of artisan families. It has also led to digital literacy and initiated them into the formal economic sector after years of being left out.
“As a cofounder of MoherQuilts, I have been taking care of it as my child by building the organization from its ideation phase”, says Mr. Niraj, adding to his statement he said, “Now, seeing MotherQuilts at this situation I am very satisfied. Day by day I get motivated to work for my dream”,
On the topic of difficulties, he has faced during his entrepreneurial journey he says, “I am a Mechanical engineer and starting a venture like MotherQuilts is like going against the law of Mechanical Engineering. So this was the main hurdle I have always come across in my life. Now as the venture is set, most of my work is primarily dominated by women and gaining their trust is the hardest thing I have ever come across with”.
His all the experiences in LEAD as a student and even as a mentor has made Niraj, independent and strong, because of which he has learnt never to give up in his life!
I know, after knowing so much about Mr. Niraj Borate it is pretty obvious that he has won hearts by the dedication he has shown in his life for work and society. Along with winning hearts, Mr. Niraj has won multiple awards.
- Inspiring LEADer by Deshpande Foundation (JAN 2016)
- Selected as ‘The Global Shapers’ (Extended) by Global Shapers Community, Pune. (July 2017)
- The Global Changemaker by We Make Change (July 2019)
- He was awarded as the Community Manager, India of We Make Change (Oct 2019).
Also, his work has been recognized by various newspapers including The Hindu, The Indian Express, Pune Mirror, The Hindustan Times, Sakal, Dainik Bhaskar, Dainik Prabhat, Pudhari.
Mr. Niraj Borate believes that there are two types of people, one, work and money-oriented and second ones are impact-oriented. He says he was fortunate enough to his type which helped to figure out his own pathway! Niraj says, “In the process of knowing myself I completely pulled out myself out of me”. He also shares that in this process of knowing himself he also understood others. Throughout his life journey, Niraj has been able to lead himself to create an impact through leadership, which he considers as the best leading opportunity. He said, “When I was busy leading myself and also understanding people, I realized that I get motivated when I am leading others to create impact. My efforts of creating a better impact on their lives eventually end up creating a positive effect on me”.
According to Niraj, the journey is never-ending. He believes that the more he strengthens himself with experiences the more he is inclined towards new things, approaches, concepts and people.
Written By: Nilima Jangam