From pensions to beauty courses, click to revisit art of giving

Written by Kunal Doley | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 26 2014, 07:01am hrs
PensionNow, the same convenience is being extended to philanthropy as well.
Think electronics, clothes or even grocery and vegetables, and you have a dedicated website to buy them online, 24x7. Now, the same convenience is being extended to philanthropy as well. While, Amazon.in has just expanded its gift a smile initiative by adding 15 additional NGOs working for various causes, the non-profit Micro Pension Foundation (MPF) has launched the Web-based gift-a-pension platform to help people gift social security products like pension to their domestic help.

Most of us employ maids, drivers, cooks, guards and gardeners. These domestic workers form the support system in our everyday lives. However, they typically have no support system of their own, particularly a financial one. With the gift-a-pension initiative, you can actually secure their future by helping them save in secure government products, says Gautam Bhardwaj, co-founder and MD of the Invest India Micro Pension Services (IIMPS).

IIMPS, which already delivers pension products to over one million informal sector poor, is the ecosystem and implementation partner for gift-a-pension.

The gift-a-pension initiative targets the roughly 40 million persons who work as domestic workers, mainly in metros and tier 1 cities. The programme was launched in September. Over the past few weeks, over 1,000 people have registered themselves and roughly half of them have already gifted a pension to their maids, drivers, cooks and guards.

Heres how the system works. An employer can start off by paying a one-time expense of R300 as convenience fee to get his or her domestic help on board and open an account online. The help will get a kit with a micro pension card that stores all his or her details including name, address and know-your-customer (KYC). Once they are on board, the company will communicate directly with them. The card is portablethe help can take it with him or her to his or her next job.

The product one gets is the NPS Lite, which is a smaller version of the National Pension Scheme, a defined-contribution-based pension system launched by the Union government with effect from January 1, 2004. NPS Lite allows for smaller contributions and gets R1,000 from the government for contributions between R1,000 and R12,000 in a year.

The finance ministry-authorised Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority will issue a Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN) card to the help, which will be sent to his or her address. Contributions can be made online by the employerone can choose to either just credit the amount one deducts from the helps salaries to the NPS Lite account, or simply make the contributions for them. The help can save a minimum of R100 per month for his or her old age, and an annual premium that ranges between R135 and R345, depending on his or her age, for a five-year life insurance term cover.

In case, the help is no longer employed with the employer, he or she can continue to save and load his or her periodic contribution onto his or her micro pension card at designated outlets in the city.

MPS has also started working with large corporates. Here, the employees of our corporate partners are gifting pension to their own domestic help. In some cases, the corporates are also co-contributing towards the initial social security contribution of such domestic help through their CSR budgets. One of our key partners in the CSR space is DFID, the UK-based bilateral development institution, adds Bharadwaj.

Meanwhile, the 15 NGOs that have joined as partners and listed their wishlists on Amazon.in include CRY, Care & Love, Ashray Akruti, Sphoorti, Bhagvatula CT, Bhumi, Vidyarambam, Yuva Global Foundation, Sikshana, Aarohi, Tropical Health Foundation of

India, Action for Autism, Astha-Alternative strategy for the Handicapped, Isha and TeachforIndia.

In the first phase of the gift a smile initiative, NGOs like Magic Bus, Make a Wish foundation, Pratham, READ India, Sahyog, Save the Children, Bhoruka

Charitable Trust, Jagriti Bal Vikas Samiti, Lotus Petal Foundation and Nav Bharat Jagriti Kendra had created their wishlists.

Through gift a smile, customers can browse through the wishlists of their preferred NGOs, select the items they would like to gift and Amazon.in delivers the item to the chosen organisation. All seller fees that accrue from these sales are donated to the participating NGOs, says Amit Agarwal, vice president and country manager, Amazon India. We feel fortunate that we are able to create a small yet meaningful impact on the lives of many people using our platform. With many new NGOs joining us, we believe that many more beneficiaries from marginalised sectors will be able to benefit from this initiative, he adds.

The wishlists include but are not limited to products like educational toys, books, dictionaries, sports equipment, clothes, personal hygiene products, as well as items that will help NGOs provide vocational training (for example, beauty products for beautician courses targeting girls between 16 and 20 years) to help develop sustainable livelihoods, adds Agarwal.