So many of us these days have startup ambitions. We don’t have the numbers to prove this statement but walk into any bookstore and ask for a list of the top-selling books. We bet you will hear the same names- Peter Thiel, Steve Jobs, Gary Vee, so on and so forth.
In all this business craze we met Anirudh Dutt, a 23-year-old with a different kind of entrepreneurial dream.
Though he had never imagined himself in this position, Anirudh is now running an NGO ‘Let’s Be the Change’ which he started even before he joined engineering college. The organisation is now a part of the Launchpad programme run by NSRCEL, the entrepreneurship cell of the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B).
When we met Anirudh and his friends Amar B P and Nidhish Kudwalli, both secretaries on the board of LBTC, we were amazed by the dedication they share for contributing back to society!
The organisation has more than 1,000 active, registered volunteers and has conducted over 250 Cleanathons across Bengaluru. Anirudh was named the ‘Rising Star of the Year’ in 2015 by the Namma Bengaluru Foundation and the organisation has won several awards.
Becoming the Change
Anirudh had always been into rescuing furry friends but it was after second PU that he felt the itch to do something more. He gathered a few of his friends on the terrace of his house and they discussed what issues they could address.
Eventually, they decided on waste management and segregation and decided to take-up a few clean-up drives.
“At first, we started cleaning up black spots. Even though we thought we were doing a good job, we realised that people had started to think of us as cleaners. That was demotivating so we changed our approach,” Anirudh said.
Instead, he decided to get the government and local residents involved.
“Now, citizens contact us when there is a garbage dumping problem in their locality. We ask the city corporation to clean it up. Once that is done, we organise a Cleanathon to paint and beautify the area,” Anirudh said.
Cleaning up can be fun!
They have even given the Cleanathons a twist!
To make the cleaning process more fun, LBTC started involving local bands to play music and entertain the volunteers. This became a big hit with everyone.
Swarathma, the folk rock band led by Vasu Dixit, which is known for supporting social causes, also played at one of their events!
What stops the black spots from going black again?
“During the clean-up drive, we involve the local ward officials. We introduce the residents of the area to them so that if there is any problem again, they can contact the authorities directly,” Anirudh explained.
In each ward, they want to identify residents who can lead the change and then provide the right connections to government officials. Last year on October 2, Gandhi Jayanti, they had a simultaneous drive across 72 wards. This year, they aim to double that.
Anirudh and his friends have been working to make Bengaluru a cleaner city since 2013, alongside college.
Most of those who started along with him have taken on jobs and are working for the NGO in their free time. But Anirudh has stuck on.
“As of now, there is no salary coming from this and we have not taken any big donations. We get sponsorships for our events. But I am working on creating some revenue models and trying to figure out how to keep it sustainable,” Anirudh said.
You can be the change, too!
It’s been a rough road and Anirudh has had to face his share of challenges, including convincing his parents about his choice of a career. But it has been worth it because he finds the work he does very satisfying.
Anirudh is always interacting with youngsters and students who ask him what they can do about issues they see in their surroundings.
To them he always says, “Start a pilot project. Just put up something on social media or tell your friends what you want to do. There will always be people willing to work with you,” Anirudh said.
If you are in Bengaluru and you want to be the change, you can check out the Facebook page for Let’s Be The Change here. They have a Cleanathon coming up on August 5, Friendship Day so check out their page for details!
And if you are a musician or a band looking for a platform, you can get in touch with LBTC, too!