"Arjun Menda: The Philanthropist Dedicated to Providing Access to Education in India."
Arjun Menda, Group Chairman, RMZ Corp
Born in 1933 in Shikarpur Sindh, a place that is now part of modern-day Pakistan, Mr. Arjun Menda's life took an unexpected turn with the advent of Partition. Forced to leave behind everything his family had built over generations, they sought refuge in Chennai. Despite facing immense challenges, his father, driven by the determination to provide his children with a good education, ensured that the Menda siblings had access to learning. This early exposure instilled in young Arjun the profound belief that education holds the key to critical thinking, problem-solving, discipline, and personal growth.
Despite his humble beginnings, Mr. Arjun Menda's resilience and unwavering commitment to education propelled him to graduate from IIT Kharagpur with a degree in Production Technology. His passion for engineering initially seemed beyond his family's means, but through scholarships and relentless perseverance, he forged his own path to secured a place at university. The tremendous support and opportunities provided by philanthropists during his educational journey fueled his desire to pay it forward. Today, the foundation grants approximately 700 scholarships annually, enabling nearly 100 students to graduate and integrate into mainstream society each year.
Mr. Arjun Menda embarked on his professional career as an Industrial Engineer at Mahindra & Mahindra Limited in Mumbai. He then progressed to the role of Production Manager at Gabriel India Limited. Subsequently, he ventured into promoting small-scale industries specializing in the manufacturing of precision-tuned and pressed parts.
Real estate entered Mr. Arjun Menda's life in the late 80s when he commenced the construction of residential, hospitality and commercial real estate across India. Utilizing his qualifications and expertise to the fullest, he sought to make a significant impact. This marked the birth of real estate giant, RMZ Corp in Bangalore in 2002—an enterprise that stands today as an industry leader and one of the few debt-free real estate firms worldwide. With 67 million square feet (circa $20B) of yield-generating real assets under ownership, RMZ is shaping the landscapes and communities it operates within. Their hyper-growth strategy is to grow their portfolio to 350M sft by 2032.
While his sons lead RMZ Corp, Mr. Arjun Menda wholeheartedly dedicates himself to the Menda Foundation—a philanthropic trust he established in 1990 with the conviction that education has the power to effect transformative change. His unwavering determination to repay the kindness he received and provide opportunities for others drives the foundation's mission. The Menda Foundation focuses on empowering underprivileged children and adults who lack access to education. Its initiatives include scholarships, solar solutions for lighting, renewable energy solutions for schools and hostels, e-Shala projects to enhance learning experiences for rural children, and adult literacy programs.
The Light for Education Program stands as a testament to Mr. Arjun Menda's commitment to ensuring all students have access to a cleaner, safer, and more affordable lighting option. This program recognizes the detrimental effects of studying under inadequate lighting conditions, such as relying on streetlights or dangerous kerosene lamps. To address this issue, students are provided with free solar-powered LED lamps, supported by a shared centralised solar charging system. With one lamp serving three to four children, this initiative not only incentivizes attendance but also enables better academic performance.
The e-Shala initiative takes aim at revolutionizing the educational landscape by transforming the delivery of information. By systematically selecting underserved schools, this program implements LED-based digital projectors and monitors that feature syllabus-based content in both Kannada and English. Powered by solar energy, this digital equipment reduces maintenance costs while minimizing the ecological impact.
Recognizing the importance of literacy among undereducated adults in rural areas, the Menda Foundation established the Adult Literacy Program. Leveraging the e-Shala initiative, this program facilitates basic education for adults, expanding their knowledge and honing essential skills in functional mathematics and literacy. By broadening their scope of knowledge and providing them with fundamental skills, this initiative empowers adults to thrive and engage more effectively in their communities.
In addition to these impactful initiatives, Mr. Arjun Menda's philanthropic efforts extend to the Fitness Parks, which specifically target the urban population. These parks offer a solution to the predominantly sedentary lifestyle prevalent in today's society, benefiting those who cannot afford gym memberships. By providing accessible spaces for physical exercise and promoting a healthier way of life, the Fitness Parks contribute to the overall well-being of individuals and communities.
Mr. Arjun Menda was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India in 2017 and honored as the Outstanding Alumni of the Year by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur in 2021. These accolades stand as a testament to his unwavering commitment to making a positive impact on society and his remarkable achievements throughout his career.
Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content
Topics : education
First Published: May 23 2023 | 6:16 PM IST