Improving the Lives of Millions Together

Stef van Dongen and Saad Umerani

Stef van Dongen and Saad Umerani at the 2013 Nexus London Youth Summit

Stef van Dongen is Founder and CEO of Enviu. Enviu starts social businesses and online communities that are aimed to create a positive social and environmental impact. Contact Stef to see what you can do. 

Saad Umerani is JAJ Consultants LLC, Director Strategy Next Generation member since 2012. Built on a track record of more than three decades, JAJ Consultants is the Middle East’s leading strategy consulting firm. JAJ Consultants works closely with clients to help them make smarter and effective business decisions. 

How a short one-to-one conversation during a Next Gen conference lead to creating a long-term impact for millions of people. Almost six months ago, Saad Umerani (24) and I joined hands in the Three Wheels United Initiative in India which is one of the start-up companies of Enviu. Its aim is to increase the quality of life of millions of autorickshaw drivers (tuktuks) and their families who live in India and depend on the rickshaw for their livelihood.

Three Wheels United offers loans to rickshaw drivers at fair interest rates for them be able to replace their dirty rental vehicle for their own clean vehicle. Also the drivers can join a micro franchise formula to increase their income between 70% and 400%. With the first 120 vehicles on the road already, and a steady growth, the company will reach break-even in 2013.

After the Next Gen meeting in May of 2012, Saad and I met in Amsterdam and had an inspiring discussion about impact investing. I saw a young driven entrepreneur who was really interested and socially engaged. Later, I discovered that his family was leading one of the largest consultancy firms in the Middle East. As a part of their company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Saad founded the companies Pro-Bono Advisory arm. The division provides consulting services to non-profits on optimizing their invest- ment strategies and maximizing impact, free of cost.

Our lively conversations resulted in an exploration to see how we could create a positive social and environmental impact. “We could talk for hours more, but why don’t we just start!” he said. As a first step, we decided to see how his company could contribute with its assets and competences. “Improving companies is one thing, but improving lives is a completely different feeling. As a company we always believed in giving back to the community, however like most companies our approach was very traditional. Setting up a new division not only allowed us to get more involved but also gave us the ability to really use our resources to have a much stronger impact on our community.” Saad added.

Saad formed a research team that has explored the commercial possibilities for the micro-franchise formula and the expansion of the business to other cities in India. We have been in several conversations with the team of Three Wheels United in India. “The interactions with Saad and the first research findings have been extremely valuable for our work will allow us to create even more impact with our company,” according to Ramesh Prabhu CEO of Three Wheels United India.

For more information about the project or to see what you can do contact Stef van Dongen: stef@enviu.org – or if you are curious for the experiences of Saad, please contact him at: saad.mehmood@jaj.co 

  • olavea

    I attended the presentation in the photo. I liked the style of these to gentlemen. In my minds eye I can see Saad saying “We could talk for hours more, but why don’t we just start!”

    So Stef what are you working on these days?

  • Stef Van Dongen

    Check out our updated website http://www.enviu.org for our latest projects. We are setting up a micro pension fund in Ghana, 10USD houses in Nigeria and a food micro franchise in North India 😉 love to hear your comments and inputs… Ola what’s up in your world? 😉