Yes, this statement is true with Sharmista Shankaranarayana who is the Managing Director of an Indo-Dutch company called BlueMatch. It is a Sustainable, Renewable Energy and Resources company which primarily focuses on Impacting the Rural /Tribal and other impoverished areas through various Development & Clean Projects including Clean Cooking Solutions, Farmer Hand-Holding, and Women Empowerment.
The Blue Economy Way of Thinking:
Blue – means ecologically, socially, and economically profitable for the long term.
Match – is about matching the needs of people and their cultures approach to collaborate with local partners like self-help groups, microfinance institutions, and other grassroots organizations that create involvement by harnessing the power of women, collectives, and groups and make them the stakeholders. Creates a real, local impact by connecting to the individual households.
Sharmista Shankaranarayana has worked extensively for sending girls back into schools and colleges in the rural areas for over 16 years now. She also works on creating small but structural income for women from rural areas who are cancer heroes, sexually abused, and anyone who is looking to help themselves for a better life. She helps by providing them training/or attending courses/classes they are interested in. She has strong, reliable sources who help her and helps people by planning these things.
How it all started
Mr. Shankaranarayana Krishnashastry, Sharmista’s dad was a synonym of ‘Humanity’. She fondly remembers when she was as young as 5 years her father used to cook food for people in the villages. This was way back before all the schemes started like mid-day meals, etc. He used to take it in huge containers at times and most of the time cooked in all the schools he worked at. He was a Government High School Math and Science teacher, and most of the time he was posted in rural areas. Sharmista has seen him go door to door educating families on why their kids should get good education. He used to make toys from waste cardboard and other best from waste decor too. He was also the peacemaker of all the village disputes. Until he passed away almost 25 years ago, he walked throughout Bengaluru to take tuitions for free.
Though she hails from a traditional orthodox family, her father strongly believed and followed that God is humanity and no religion, caste, creed or races came before it. He has shaped many lives and few of them visit Sharmista’s family even today.
So, her father played a huge role in what she is today. Personally, it started when she saw her school friend crying. She had lost her dad due to cancer and her mother was suffering from Schizophrenia. She struggled to communicate with her grandparents who she was living with. All she wanted was a new notebook. Sharmista desperately wanted to help her and was too scared to ask money from her mom. She wouldn’t deny it but still, she was scared. So, she stole! Yes, you heard it right. She stole 10 Rs from her mother’s purse and bought her friend a notebook. The happiness and the twinkle in her friend’s eyes meant a lot to her. That was the day she decided that she would dedicate most of her life and earnings towards Rural Development. Later she got 10 Rs as a thamboolam and she silently slipped the note into her mom’s purse again as she was guilty of stealing.
” I was more of an introvert after my dad passed away and I struggle to cope up with his absence even now as I was more of a dad’s girl. What I also picked up from my dad at a very young age was writing. And that was my solace and saving grace after he passed away. Few of my poems/small articles have been published in various leading newspapers and I have some donors sending me some money too for the articles I wrote. I used most of them to help people I knew who are from rural areas for either education and remaining for Coffee in hotels! Yes, I loved a few hotels back then and I have spent most of my life binging on coffee. That’s one thing I probably can’t survive without. In fact, that was the last thing my dad had too while on his deathbed in the hospital,” says Sharmista
Cut short to the present, her true calling has and will always be hand holding the rural in any possible ways. “My dad’s dream was to keep impacting the lives in rural areas and I want to try and live up to his dreams which I share too. I also started caregiver therapy through various art forms as I felt people in rural areas are more vulnerable, especially family members as they go through financial, moral, and social stress. My friends and I pool in money to sometimes buy them groceries, medicines, and support them in any which way possible. A few of them are working now in various firms with small jobs enough to support them. I also conduct at least 5 health camps in a year in orphanages or other places where we see those who do not have access to basic medical facilities too,” she adds.
Through all this how does she manage to get some free time, one wonders. But whenever she gets some time off her hands, she loves to spend it with family and friends over coffee or a football match. She is a huge fan of Football and follows Bengaluru FC with all her heart. She also enjoys listening to the local band Lagori and Raghu Dixit and EDM from Ma Faiza. She is a huge Shankarnag fan when it comes to movies and also loves writing poetry as already mentioned earlier.
Sharmistha finds her strength in her family and friends who have been her support through everything.
“My family and friends have been my rock-solid support and even take care of my child when I’m late or have to travel for a few days. And nothing of this would be possible without my husband Anup and an understanding child all the 8 years,” she says. Sharmista is also thankful to all those organizations that have helped in her fundraising campaigns.
She has represented India and her company BlueMatch in many National and International forums like:
Sister City Conclave – Held by Nazeera Dawood in its first episode in India “Chai and Just Chat” in Bengaluru
Saxion University, Netherlands – Fortunate to represent our company on the studies done on Sustainable economic model for our company by students of Saxion University.
Leiden University, Netherlands – Represented Indian Women on Rural Empowerment in India from BlueMatch
“I believe each one of us can just be as humane as possible. We can pay forward in our own small ways and sometimes all we can do is by just being there lending an ear to hear and a shoulder to lean on. Money does play a huge role these days but the utmost important scope is Mental Health. My dream for a very long time now is to start a trust/foundation in my dad’s name and work in a more structured way to ensure more people benefit from it,” she added.