Naandi, which in Sanskrit, means a "new beginning", was founded on November 1, 1998 as a Public Charitable Trust. Born out of the idea of creating a professionally run organisation that would be managed by eminent business leaders as Trustees, Naandi was expected to serve as a new experiment in the development sector of India.
The plan was to partner with international and national development organisations, state governments, and corporate houses to showcase large scale successful delivery of public services. These included providing elementary education to deserving underprivileged girls, safe drinking water and sanitation, large scale co-operative irrigated farming in dry land areas, end-to-end sustainable agriculture in tribal areas, skilling and employment for youth, safe motherhood and early childhood development (inclusive of tackling malnutrition amongst children), or any other socio-economic issue, was also an imminent part of their programme.
Today, 20 years later, Naandi is probably the largest multi-sectoral non-profit in India that is also the fastest growing with transformative impact all over the country. Naandi runs over 2200 Skilling & Employment Centres and about 6300 Girls Education and Empowerment Centres impacting a million young lives. These are run under the aegis of Mahindra Pride Classrooms and Project Nanhi Kali respectively – both are brand names today known for their scale and impact. Recently, the Naandi team conducted the country’s first ever Teen Age Girls Survey across 30 states and published the TAG Report representing the voice of 80 million teenage girls in India.
Naandi was the first to create a sustainable model of outsourcing government programs and demonstrating successful large-scale implementation with efficiency and outcomes. Naandi is known for providing a billion meals to over a million children as part of the Midday Meal Program of the Government of India. Naandi also became the watchdog on child malnutrition through its work with HUNGaMA (Hunger and Malnutrition) campaign.
Naandi has established a large footprint in the area of Sustainable Agriculture and Small Farmer Livelihoods. Two decades of work in the hilly Araku region of south-eastern India has transformed the lives of 100,000 adivasi farmer families – making the region famous for its world-class coffee. The eco- fragile Araku region has transformed into the world's largest Biodynamic Agriculture hub spread across 1500 square kilometres, where the active participation of all the farmer families has resulted in the planting of over 10 million diverse fruit trees. Another 10 million are in the process of being planted now.
Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra Group, chairs the Board of Naandi Foundation. Life Trustees of Naandi Foundation are Maganti Rajendra Prasad Chairman, Soma Enterprises; Satish Reddy; Chairman, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd; and Senapathy ‘Kris’ Gopalakrishnan, Co-founder of Infosys.
The 5,500 strong Naandi team, working across 15 states of India, is led by Manoj Kumar, CEO of Naandi Foundation.