Empower Foundation focuses on the following areas :
(1) Wildlife and Environment Conservation - Be it protecting the Wildlife like big cats of India covering Lions, Tigers and Leopards to forests, mangroves and environnent at large, Team Empower has been involved deeply in this field through our Chapters like "The Wild India", "Save our Lions", "Leopards and Mumbai" etc. (Pls see the respective Chapters for details)
(2) Tribal Upliftment - With Forests and Environments, comes the Tribals who are and were residents there. Marginalized due to lack of infrastructure and literacy they are the most vulnerable class and un noticed thanks to being a minority from a vote bank perspective. We have been involved in many tribal upliftment activities and rehabilitation activities along with the government and forest departments. Education, Hygiene, Skill development, Employment generation and acting as an intermediary and facilitator to this oppressed segment has been one of our forte.
(3) Youth Development -We feel that Youth of the nation, are the most important segment to bring in any change and we have been instrumental in various Youth development activities and also in contributing to the Policy Making for Youth by the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Government of India and Government of Maharashtra. We have been involved with various government and non government organizations on the subject.
(4) Cultural Restoration and Development - We are also involved in revival of the lost culture or tradition of India in the form or art covering the tribal art and craft and folk dances of all the states and districtsof India. Team members of Empower Foundation play an instrumental role in teaching Indian Folk Dances covering dances of 20 plus states in its endeavor to retain and revive the lost Indian Culture of Indian tribes and folk.
Other Areas where we have been involved through some projects or donor specific tailor made programmes:
Social Development - A very broad area, we have been involved in various issues envisaging Education and Awareness, Health and Hygiene and creating a knowledgeable and sound society. Be it a literacy drive for cleanliness or road safety or even creating awareness on Man-Animal Conflict or be it joining hands with the society in crisis and in times of needs, the volunteers of Empower Foundation have been and would always stand by the society.
Underprivileged Upliftment - Underprivileged is a vast terminology or area. But we have in a very limited way looked at and would in future focus on Child,Women and Senior Citizen which are the most vulnerable one. Upliftment is also a heavy term and is not a one days game. It is a gradual process and it begins with mere engagement with the underprivileged, understand their needs, pain areas and help them in whatever ways. The Economical freedom for the weaker section is possibly the last phase of such an upliftment.
We envisage in being involved in this area on a project or case specific basis with donor specific tailor-made programmes depending on budgets . For eg. a Donor wishes to sponsor a Girl Child's higher education, our team would through our stringent due diligence process identify the right and needy girl (Criteria used : Single parent with financial constraints, passed Class X with 50% marks, a bright scholar with the spark and ambition to study further but unable to due to lack of funds and mentorship, positive feedback from various sources including school teachers, community and accessibility to the donor).
Human Rights - Lack of literacy is not a rural phenomenon. Even a doctor or an MBA can get stuck into a legal battle or a civil litigation with no rhyme or reason – purely due to lack of time and moresoever knowledge. And that’s why many live in fear or a give up, thus promoting corruption. If this is the state of the literate, middle class, SEC A, B types, imagine the state of the rural poor or the tribals. We at Empower feel that every individual have their rights- rights to demand and have information, rights to challenge, rights to fight and ultimately right to live We are intermediaries between an individual and his/her right by acting as a networker to get the needy through the right support system.
The Core Team
Jalpesh Mehta – is a management professional and a doctoral scholar in management having avid interest in wildlife and social change. Based in Mumbai, with his roots back in Kolkata, where he also served as the General Secretary of St. Xaviers College Students Union which acted as the seed for the formation of this NGO, Empower Foundation, Jalpesh also writes on Social issues and Wildlife on his website - The Wild India !
Amit Kanugo - is a Engineer and Management graduate, an Aviation professional based out of Kolkata. Also known as Baagha, Amit has been involved in Tiger conservation at Sunderbans with a focus on building up an Art, Nature education and Language School. A key achievement discovering and tracking 7 stray tigers in the territorial forest around Nagpur.
Black Pearl - is an IT Professional from Chandigarh and a Naturalist with phenomenal experience on forests in the Northern India. He is also a Wildlife photographer having taken some great unbelievable world class shots ! A blogger on wildlife, Black Pearl as he is known in the circle is an Editorial and Photography Guru for Team Empower and Wildlife Enthusiasts !
Pranav Shah – is an Engineer from Pune and a native of Morbi, Gujarat. Industrialist by profession but a Change agent by spirits, Pranav has been a part of many social uplfitment activities primarily in Maharashtra and Gujarat regions, where he doesn’t need a googlemap !
Mohammad Kathawala - is an Engineer from Pune residing at Baroda. An avid techie with a passion knowledge spreading, Mohammad has been involved in teaching the underprivileged children at Panchayati Schools where he ensures a good focus on Environment conservation and Nature too. Lion has been an inspiration and passion since Childhood for him.
Sheetal Mehta – An Artist and Visharad in Indian Folk dance, retaining and spreading the folk and tribal art across the urban next-gen in Mumbai is Sheetal’s mission if life. Spends her free time in the Leopard sensitive areas of Mumbai to create co-existence and reduce man animal conflict !
Nupur Kothari – An Interior Designer by profession but a wildlife lover at heart, trying to bring in the creativity in wildlife conservation and tribal upliftment by promoting Tribal Arts and Artisans besides being the Research lead on Wildlife and allied issue for Empower Foundation
Mitesh Panchal – A fitness expert cum entrepreneur based out of Mumbai. Known as “Kali” of Yeoor Range in SGNP (Sanjay Gandhi National Park), Mitesh spends most of his weekends in the forests and also as a part of census teams at Tiger reserves besides enjoying photography of the rare wildlife. Understands wildlife and especially Leopards and Tigers more than Humans.