Amongst members of the Indian diaspora across the globe raising money for COVID relief efforts back home in India, is the Pan IIM Alumni (PIIMA) community in Singapore which recently provided the virus-ravaged country with relief efforts worth a whopping SGD 5.4 million.
Their campaign #BreatheLifeIntoIndia has partnered with Singapore Red Cross, Temasek Foundation, OLAM and DBS to facilitate ground initiatives in India. The campaign, which was launched on May 1, has found great support and success, raising large amounts of funds in such a short time. In fact, the campaign raised SGD 1 million within the first 72 hours of its launch.
The PIIMA team raised SGD 2.4 million (of which SGD 1.6 million was raised by individuals and has been contributed towards the Singapore Red Cross, with an additional 0.8 million raised via corporate donors) for 2500 oxygen concentrators and enabled an additional SGD 3 million of oxygen cylinders and concentrators for other partners like ACT and Temasek.
“This collaboration has helped to accelerate the delivery of equipment to India by Singapore Red Cross. The pan IIM alumni team has brought value beyond just raising funds and we are grateful for this collaboration,” said Benjamin. J. Williams, Chairman of the Singapore Red Cross.
The campaign effort has been a story of multi-pronged collaboration between PIIMA, Singapore Red Cross, ACT grants, Temasek Foundation, OLAM, MCCIA, Amazon, Delhivery, Kerry, Maersk, SIA and several other groups that came together, pooling resources and skills to make a significant difference.
“From the beginning, the pan IIM alumni team decided that we needed to go beyond raising money. Our community responded magnificently. They opened their wallets and their networks, but also gave the most precious asset in this crisis - their managerial time. The volunteers created a virtual start-up garage where they cooked up ideas and executed them with speed and agility. The community has made us proud by combining the Singaporean gene of high-quality execution with the Indian gene of can-do innovation,” said Suresh Shankar, President PIIMA.
The volunteer ‘sourcing’ team worked across its strong alumni network to place orders with trusted suppliers, organize logistics, do quality checks and get last mile delivery on the ground organised.
“Sourcing supplies of all kinds of equipment became the biggest challenge for us… Within 48 hours, a small band of IIM volunteers and my team put together a plan of action,” said Vini Mahajan, Chief Secretary of Punjab.
The PIIMA community also leveraged their networks to identify supply sources within Singapore, Malaysia, China, Taipei and even Turkey.
“Our biggest problem is sourcing and procuring them fast. The supply and pricing situation is chaotic with hourly fluctuations. We started working with the IIM alumni in Singapore 3 weeks ago. Since then, they have found new sources of supplies, helped us place orders and keep prices as stable as possible,” said Ajay Nair, CEO of Swasth Digital Health foundation, one of PIIMA on ground partners in this initiative.
The call to action required not only raising funds to place orders and deploy 2000 O2 concentrators but also enable shipment of 6300 cylinders and 8 PSA plants working with Singapore institutions like the Temasek Foundation, DBS and OLAM to enable supply and deployment with the Indian High Commission, and credible on the ground partners like ACT Grants, Swasth Digital Health foundation, and United Way Bengaluru to convert the plan into action.
The ultimate outcome of this concerted and dedicated effort led by PIIMA, in collaboration with all its partners in Singapore, India and elsewhere, was the delivery of over 2000 oxygen concentrators, 6300 cylinders and 8 PSA plants to help India in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
The efforts by PIIMA come in addition to other COVID relief funds raised in Singapore like Singapore Universities’ Mission Oxygen (#SUMO) and the funds raised by the investor foundation community The Indus Entrepreneurs' (TiE) Singapore chapter.
SUMO is a combined effort by Indian-origin alumni of National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU), which till May 7 had raised over USD 128,000 to support COVID relief efforts in India.
TiE Singapore raised over SGD 3 million (USD 2.2 million), as of May 17, through the 'I Breathe for India' celebrity fundraiser co-hosted by Bollywood star Lara Dutta and wellness expert Shayamal Vallabhjee.