STOW, MA—The Desai Foundation, which empowers women and children to elevate health and livelihood in India and U.S, raised $400,000 during its annual Lotus Festival gala last Saturday at Collings Foundation in Stow, MA.
The Lotus Festival supports the Desai Foundation’s programs in rural India where they offer sewing classes, computer classes, sanitary napkin making and sales programs, along with many other vocational programs to ensure that every rural woman has the opportunity to dream beyond her circumstances. It also supports a variety of their health and hygiene programs, as well as their programming in the Metro- Boston and Harlem regions.
This year’s event featured two artists collaborating to create one moving performance. For the first time ever ClassPass founder and Sa Dance Company creative director Payal Kadakia Pujji, and world renowned Indian vocalist Falu, who is currently a fellow at Carnegie Hall, and has performed with Yo-Yo Ma and A.R. Rahman, performed together – along with percussionist Deep Singh, and Bryan Vargas on guitar.
ClassPass has grown into a business valued at a billion dollars, landing Payal Kadakia Pujji on lists such as Fortune’s Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs and Marie Claire’s Most Influential Women in America.
“The Desai Foundation is a nonprofit with a mission that I’ve been proud to be a part of since 2010. I am inspired by the organization’s work empowering girls in rural India to Dream Beyond through health, livelihood and education programs,” Payal said in a statement.
This year’s keynote speaker was Anjula Acharia who is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, pop culture enthusiast and angel investor in ClassPass, The Hunt (acquired by Pinterest), Mayvenn, Gobble, The Muse, Cue and Hooked – Telepathic just to name a few. Anjula works to transform portfolio companies into truly global brands as well as work to further Trinity’s campaign for greater diversity in tech. Prior to joining Trinity, Anjula co-founded Desi Hits!, which introduced mega-stars Lady Gaga, 50 cent and Britney Spears to India, and launched Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra with partner/investor Jimmy Iovine in the U.S. Anjula has deep connections in the entertainment/music/tech world and was named as one of Billboard’s ‘International Power Players’ and ‘Top 40 Women in Music.’
“Indian culture has been a powerful vehicle for us to spread the story of those we serve at the Desai Foundation. Falu & Payal, and Anjula aside from being dear friends, have always been great supporters of our work. As powerful women at the top of their game, they are truly an inspiration for the women we serve,” said Megha Desai, president of the Desai Foundation. “The Lotus Festival has always been a mix of east & west, history & progress, which ultimately leads to the bloom of a lotus, even in the muddiest of waters. The Desai foundation believes that dignity is the element that motivates women to dream beyond their circumstances and we can’t think of a more powerful collaboration than these women to show that anything is possible.”
Saturday night’s event raised nearly $400,000 to help move forward the Desai Foundation’s programming and their programs to cultivate dignity for so many women. They have already impacted the lives of over 380,000 lives, and are today in 71 villages. They are on target to be in nearly 200 villages by the end of the year with their expansion into regions like Bardoli, Bharuch and Vasta in Gujarat.
“Everyone coming together on Saturday night assured that The Desai Foundation is set up to expand programming in areas like Sanitary Napkins, Sewing, Health Camps and Hygiene training,” the Desai Foundation statement said.