Neel Ghose, Co-Founder, Robin Hood Army (fondly called RHA) thought of starting it in 2014 when he was working in Portugal. He came across an organization called Refood that collected surplus food and redistributed it to less fortunate with the help of volunteers. Thinking, an idea like this would definitely take off in India and that’s when he got in touch with two of his close friends Anand and Aarushi to start Robin Hood Army.
Being a Harvard Business school student himself, he joined Zomato in its early stages to help set up their international business. Also starting RHA, the HBS community helped him take Robin Hood army to different parts of the world. A lot of countries have been sourced by alumni, his section mates and professors. One of them also wrote a Harvard case study on the RHA team which is now being taught at HBS.
In India, the logistics of the organization work in a hyperlocal way. For instance, Hyderabad will be split into 10+ neighbourhood chapters, and in Madhapur, the food will come from restaurants of Madhapur, the volunteers will be residents, and the less fortunate people will be the homeless, orphanages, and old age homes around Madhapur. The idea is to eventually service the needy in their immediate community.
“We have always looked at the RHA less as an NGO and more as a disruptive start up that uses food as a medium to bring out the best of humanity at a community level. Given the focus on growth — we plan and prepare in the RHA with an acute focus on strategy, metrics, decentralization, mission, and leadership development. That being said, everybody in the Robin Hood Army, myself included does this in our free time since there are no funds involved. We have doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, executives, students, retired folks, artists, teachers amongst all our Robins.” says Neel.
Their biggest challenge has also been time. While we wish we could do this 7 days a week and 12 hours a day – however, different people work around different schedules, projects and time zones because everyone has dedicated jobs. And, while this seems to a bottleneck, zero funds are also their strategic advantage – it is the single biggest reason which inspires and motivates them and makes every Robin proud.
“We are ending this year hoping in 2020, there are three things we can achieve – increase the number of meals serve to 1 million + meals/month, enroll thousands of children who live on the street into school through the Robin Hood Academy, and start building our operations into the rural heartland of the country,” adds Neel.
In today’s world, it’s hard to think of an organization that puts humanity before their own agenda. He signs off by saying, “The people we serve and our team is family – what we do is not a job, but a way of life for each of us.”
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