The name Alibaba is a global phenomenon the era of e-commerce now. Founded in 1999, one of the fundamental missions of the company is to make it easy to do business anywhere.
One of their recent initiatives in the social angle is the Mission Million Books (MMB), a pan India social initiative aimed at providing the underserved with access to quality educational material for their growth and advancement and supports the Indian government’s efforts to enable access to quality education for all.
The project seeks to donate 1 million books to schools and colleges in India, to help students in their journey for education.
Alibaba Group in association with Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust, works with its partners to secure books through donations from across the country, subsequently providing them to unprivileged schools and colleges for free.
We recently had the opportunity to interact with Vinay Bhartia, Senior Vice President – Strategic Partnerships of Alibaba.com to understand the objective and impact of the mission and how the rest of the ecosystem can be a part of the cause. Here are the excerpts from the interview.
What was the drive behind kick-starting this initiative in 2016 and how have you seen it growing in the last 2 years?
Mission Million Books is a small but significant step towards empowering the youth in India with good quality reading material to help them shape their future. We started this campaign with an objective to open doors for numerous educational institutions to have access to and enhance the quality of academic material provided to their students.
They say reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. It’s a pity that many deserving, curious children and youth in our country do not even have access to the good quality reading material. This very thought led us to conceptualize the Mission Million Books initiative.
In a short span, now over 700,000 books have been collected and donated impacting close to 2.5 million students across more than 2000 institutes in India. We are grateful to everyone for supporting us on this journey. Recently we celebrated the fourth milestone of the initiative and received an overwhelming response.
Apart from Alibaba and its portfolio companies, there are other organizations who have extended their support. What would be your message for them in reaching the fourth milestone and why should new partners join the cause?
We work with our partners who believe in the same cause as we do and we thank them for achieving a great progress on this initiative. Our partners help us to secure books through donations from across the country, subsequently providing them to unprivileged schools and colleges for free.
Our biggest partner has been Ratna Nidhi Trust that is executing this initiative. Several other partners have supported us in this endeavor – including Hindustan Times, EComm Express, Paytm Mall, Carnival Cinemas, Stones2Milestones, World Bank Book Project. It’s also interesting to see the involvement of people, we get calls and requests from across the country for donating books.
We are encouraged to focus our efforts on creating something bigger to help educate the community at large and welcome other partners who would like to join us for this social initiative.
How soon are you expecting the project to reach its finish line of Mission Million Books and do you have plans to expand the program beyond a million or outside India?
Through this project we aim to donate 1 million books to schools and colleges in India, to help students in their journey for education. Currently, we are in the final phase of this initiative and aim to achieve the target soon.
We invite Indian citizens across the country to donate textbooks and educational material for the benefit of the underprivileged.