The mission of Asia Initiatives (AI) is to leverage the power of social capital to promote healthcare, education, improve livelihoods, and sustainable development, striving to bring positive change in the quality of life of people in under-served communities.
With a particular focus on women, girls and their families, our initiatives utilize transformative methodologies and technologies to empower people to realize their full potential, and become key stakeholders of their own success.
Our story began in 1999, when a group of friends met at the home of Geeta and Krishen Mehta to strategize ways that they could help the severely underprivileged people in South Asia. Then came a chance to meet with Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, the world renowned agricultural scientist and humanist, which ultimately changed everything. He suggested ways that a group of people living abroad can engage with issues back home. We saw the transformative work that M.S. Swaminathan Foundation (MSSRF) was doing in villages of Tamil Nadu, and Asia Initiatives was born.
From the beginning, AI has resolved that its programs would always be "pro-poor, pro-women, and pro-environment." With those principles in mind, the organization began by supporting Village Knowledge Centers and microcredit schemes in Tamil Nadu. Since then our programs have grown by leaps and bounds, ranging from revolving loan programs, to environmental awareness campaigns, to school enrollment drives across India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Kenya, Ghana, Costa Rica and the United States. We moved our headquarters to New York in 2009 and successfully applied for 501(c)(3) status in 2010. Here, our President and Co-founder Dr. Geeta Mehta developed the methodology of Social Capital Credits (SoCCs), the community currency for social good. Today, we leverage the power of this transformative concept in 18 sites, helping communities become stakeholders in their own success.
Dr. Geeta Mehta’s reinterpretation of the Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” embodies our work. We advocate that it is not enough to teach a man—or woman—how to fish. You must also teach her how to maintain an unpolluted pond, cook or preserve the fish, with the responsibility of sharing their learnt knowledge with their communities, too. This is true social capital—our belief in what's necessary to build a stronger, better global society.