Karan Kishorepuria, SVP India
Karan Kishorepuria is a 25-year-old entrepreneur, angel investor, and public speaker from Kolkata, India. He’s been a passionate changemaker and has been involved in the social impact space since he was a child. At SVP, he is currently working with two NGOs, Future Hope India, which helps children from less privileged backgrounds get access to a holistic education and is ranked as one of the top NGO schools in the country, and Vaani, which supports children with hearing and speech disabilities across multiple geographies and ages.
How did you get started in philanthropy?
My parents introduced me to the concept of giving back and service at a very young age. They instilled in me the value that no matter what I earned, a part of it should always be demarcated towards service. While growing up I would save part of my allowance or ‘pocket money’ towards a cause of my choice, such as sponsoring the education of a child or contributing to the old age home or orphanage near my house.
While growing up, one of my relatives gave me a donation box or ‘daan patra’ where I could put in all my loose change. The money would go towards supporting the education of a child through the NGO Friends of Tribal Society. I remember how happy and excited I would get when the box would fill up and the representative from the NGO would come and collect all the money. It’s been 15 years, and I still keep this box in my study.
When I was at Northeastern University, I was a founding team member of the NU Impact Fund, one of the first undergrad-led impact investing funds in the country. I led the organization as President, got approval to run the fund from university authorities, and raised nearly half a million dollars to invest in for-profit social enterprises. This experience gave me a deeper understanding of how financial investment can be used to generate positive social impact. It was here at NU Impact that I learned about the power of purposeful capital from brilliant colleagues and mentors.
When I returned to India, I wanted to find a community of people who were kind, ambitious, and inspiring, shared a similar value system as I did, and wanted to make a positive impact on the world. That’s when a dear friend Mahima Varma, who currently leads Calcutta Foundation, introduced me to SVP. I am forever grateful to Mahima for this introduction.
SVP has been amazing for me. I have met, learned from, and been inspired by some brilliant changemakers both from the NGO and philanthropist side. The diversity, warmth, and energy that this group has is something like I have never seen before. I have learned so many things from SVP, but if I had to choose just one to talk about, it would be the power of the collective. No donation with time or effort is ever too big or too small. It is the intent that counts—you never know when that intent can change someone’s life.
Every time I attend an SVP meeting or visit an SVP-supported NGO – I leave more inspired and motivated. I am proud to be able to support the NGOs who are changing the world for the better.
What are some of the causes you are passionate about?
I’m most passionate about education, gender equality, and disability rights.
I believe that everyone deserves access to quality education, regardless of their background. I’m also committed to helping children with disabilities reach their full potential. I am involved with two NGOs at SVP as Lead Partner (Future Hope and Vaani), and my mother, Shruti Kishorepuria, who is also part of SVP, is the Lead Partner at Swapnopuran Welfare Society (SWS). We are doing a large-scale Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project with Calcutta Foundation, which would help 800 women every year become financially independent through vocational courses and training.
I feel that every time I give back, I get so much more in return. Giving back gives me perspective, motivation, purpose, and happiness. It is not a duty, but a privilege.
How has your experience with trust-based philanthropy influenced your business practices?
Our family business, Regaal Resources, has incorporated philanthropy into our operations through India’s CSR mandate. [The CSR mandate is that at least 2% of our net income must be contributed towards funding NGOs in the country], and I am proud to say that we consistently exceed the required 2% willingly, and this is something both our team and I draw great inspiration, motivation, and purpose from.
It’s important that we make a significant impact, and for this reason, we channel our CSR funds toward trusted NGOs doing great work and impacting the most marginalized of communities. And it is for the same reason that we find it easy to support SVP NGOs, as they’ve gone through the rigorous selection process at SVP. I know for a fact, that if an SVP partner tells me, “Karan, this is a deserving NGO, please write them a check.” I can shut my eyes and write them a check just because there’s so much trust in the system.
We also encourage our employees to get involved in our CSR efforts. We’ve organized several CSR initiatives at Regal Resources, including a day of volunteering at an animal shelter called Chhaya Foundation and a fundraising campaign for a local school. We’ve sent employees to visit SVP-affiliated NGOs so they can learn more about the work the NGOs are doing, see how the CSR money is being used, and draw inspiration from these passionate changemakers.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in your philanthropic work?
Many people think that philanthropy is only for the wealthy, but I believe that everyone can make a difference, no matter how small. I had a young friend commit to donating to an NGO fundraiser 5,000 rupees (70 dollars) per month in installments for a year as, at that moment, that was all their salary allowed.
This is why I am grateful to be a part of SVP because no donation is ever considered too small, no age is ever considered too young, and if one cannot give money, that is totally okay – contributing time and energy is just as valuable.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who want to get involved in philanthropy?
Start small and find a cause that you are passionate about. Find something that fits your skills and interests. You can also partner with other entrepreneurs or organizations to amplify your impact.
There is no donation that is too large or small. You never know while you are on this journey, it might help you find friends, be inspired, gain perspective and come back home with a smile on your face giving you additional reason and motivation to go to the office the next day and work harder.
Service is not a duty but a privilege. Because when you do it, you will realize that it gives you a lot more than you can ever give.