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Tabula Rasa: A stirring social- enterprise transforming the lives of ex-felons

Tabula Rasa: A stirring social- enterprise transforming the lives of ex-felons

Being the harbinger of colossal social transformation in a positive direction, social entrepreneurship has gained immense popularity across the business landscape. Witnessing the new-fangled social enterprises here and there, we can notice the presence of paragon humanitarian insights airing around us. Tabula Rasa is one such offbeat as well as praiseworthy attempt by Veer Raj. In a freewheeling conversation with the ‘good-scout’ founder of this unique organisation, we came across some heart-warming actions and insights outlined by this business. Thereby, take a deep dive into this marvellous and inspiring read to keep the flames of entrepreneurship kindling in your heart.

Inspiration behind the establishment
“ I plugged into the penitentiaries 4-5 times. Being a child of age 6-7, I couldn’t digest the fact of humans being  locked up just like that as I was unaware of their actions that stimulated the happening,” disclosed Veer Raj. His own experience induced him to contribute his knowledge and profundity to educate the prisoners to make a difference. As a follower of the ideology– ‘Knowledge can be gained by sharing”, he commenced a journey of commitment and dedication to be substantive to this overlooked segment of society.

In this direction, he began teaching a batch of 30 prisoners in 2016, despite being a 8th grader! Then, one thing led to another and he concluded to expand his offering in the form of prisoners teaching program and later, turn it into prisoner rehabilitation program in 2020. With this endeavour, he aspired to Mel the lives of prisoners after their release to help them lead a normal life. Thereby,  Tabula Rasa was inaugurated as a result of persistent brainstorming.

Business portfolio
Tabula Rasa is a non-profit and non-governmental organisation that began its entrepreneurial excursion amid the glooms and dooms of the first wave of Covid-19 induced pandemic. Earlier, due to no involvement of any venture capitalist, this social enterprise heavily relied on crowdfunding only. But defying all the odds, it kept crossing the impediments and successfully attained permission from three central jails of Bihar, to begin with its first batch of rehabilitation program.

“As COVID-19 was spreading, we were not allowed to visit the prison once, but we kept ourselves optimistic. God has been kind, through all these days and slowly, we got on to a slow but steady start. It took pace only in October 2020, and till March 30 2021, we had reached limit of our first batch of 500 prisoners. We taught them Jhumari dance, Madhubani painting and Manjusha art,” reveals Veer, regarding the initial stage of his venture.

Apropos of the exclusive vision
At Tabula Rasa, people are endowed with better opportunities as second chances. Here, the vision is to stir the waves of skill development that can create exemplary job offerings for the ex-convicts to allow them go ahead with a fresh innings of their lives after their release. Veer has been an avid supporter of ‘selfless actions’ that led him to set up an inspiring venture aligned with the notion of making the world a better place. As he hosted a talk show named The Talk Show With Veer, here his research led him to unveil an astounding fact that 50% of prisoners have accidentally landed up in the prison, which is quite unfortunate.

In this unique presentation, they interviewed several ex-felons and conversed about their lives after been to the prison. “We have ensured to expanded ourself as an aggregator, which would also help them find job after their release. We are working on a web development related to this project, which will be out, once the situation gets better,” mentions Veer, about his mission behind his brainchild. Beyond any doubt his altruistic zeal and actionable insights are quite commendable and deserve lauded attention.

Reliance on SWOT analysis
For the Founder, decision making amid the unprecedented times was not a cakewalk but still a feasible exertion. He never take any significant decision when he is stressed out of any challenge. Before taking any step with a gargantuan impact, he always ensures ample amount of time to himself to figure out the best possible manner to make better use of any opportunity. And in his such attempts, SWOT analysis comes in handy as an effective trouble shooter in any situation.

Lining up with R&D
For any organisation, investing in R&D has always proved to be lucrative. In view of this, Tabula Rasa also heavily relies upon R&D for its successful implementation of thoughtful ideas. Veer claims that he personally supervises all the research operations that have granted them with better results in a short span of time. Owing to this only, team Tabula Rasa was able to acknowledge the sufferings of the prisoners who have to live in isolation after their resocialization as society doesn’t accept them. He affirms that this fait accompli compelled them to expand themselves as a pioneer in this direction and they will be resonating to create a difference in best possible manner.

A leadership aligned with humanitarianism
When asked to spotlight his leadership competencies, Veer revealed, “I am immensely influenced by the quotes of shri Bhagvad-Gita as it is said to consist all the answers to the questions lying within us.” For him, being a leader doesn’t emphasize on leading a group with strict ideas, rather he gives credence to propelling respect, care and understanding among the team members. And these archetypal values only paved his way to grab – Young entrepreneur award 2021 by the IAF.

Under his auspices, the enterprise has nurtured a semi formal, yet progressive relationship within the team members. The management always strives to make leaps as a better team and this is what gives it leading edge. Addressing the work culture thriving at his establishment, Veer elucidates, “I do not believe in a strict work culture. Our employees should enjoy performing their tasks rather than feeling like  working or being told to perform something.”

Moreover, his mentorship also spurs the formulation of innovative ideas. He firmly reckons that innovation is all about identifying an issue and bringing out the simplest solution for it. “The more simpler is the solution, the more innovative is the idea,” asserts the Founder.

For the future, the dynamic leader has envisioned to extend his venture’s impact scale to at least 5000 felons by the end of 2025, while helping more than 1000 of those individuals find suitable jobs.

The parting words by the Founder
“Entrepreneurship is all about following your passion and delivering it to the people in the best possible way. I would like to quote a shloka from Shri Bhagavad-Gita – ‘You have a right to perform your duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.’ So guys, don’t wait for the right time to come, as soon as you get a click in your mind start following your passion. Labour is the parent of other two Words – Luck and Chance.”

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