“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.” Ban Ki-moon
“If every Indian educates two Indians then in the next twenty years we can eliminate illiteracy,” these were the words said by Dr Zaheer Masood Quraishi, an ex-professor at Delhi University and also the father of Quarishi Brothers, Hilmi Quraishi and Subhi Quraishi. Quarishi brothers had garnered their higher education in computer background from Russia but upon their father’s demise they left their PhD and headed to India. Their father’s words about education kept resonating in their mind and to pay him a tribute they started ZMQ after his name in 1998.
ZMQ broadly focuses on sectors like healthcare, education and livelihood. It is divided into two companies – ZMQ Technologies and ZMQ Development. Hence, making it a hybrid social enterprise. ZMQ Technologies looks out for problems by analyzing behaviours and develops real-time solutions for the same. It is a for-profit consultancy organization which collaborates with NGOs, Government, International Agencies and CSRs and other development programs. On the contrary, ZMQ Development is a non-profit organization which has a team of social workers who work with the communities on the social issues. All the work of ZMQ is done in-house by their skilled team.
On expressing his reaction on receiving Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016, he said, “Our mission is to work and along the way, recognition is an added boost to our cause but it doesn’t change our working style. We are thankful for such recognition. We don’t run after awards, we want to work. We have our target, we work for it and we want more people to believe in it.”
ZMQ Development has launched Mira Channel also known as Women Mobile Lifeline Channel through which they educate rural women on health issues. Keeping the fact that mobile penetration is low in rural areas, so community workers, volunteers and ASHA workers give information on health issues to the rural women at their doorstep. Through this channel, they connect women to a local community health centre and provide text and audio based answers to the questions.
Till now, they have reached 850,000+ women, children and girls through MIRA. ZMQ has seen a rise in institutional delivery by 49%, immunization rate of children between 0-5 years by 41% and visits to antenatal care by 55%.
Other programmes started by ZMQ are Mobile Mahatma where students were taught Gandhi’s philosophy on peace which was launched by Mr. Manmohan Singh. They also worked in partnership with Reliance (for which Reliance worked for free) on Freedom HIV AIDs in local languages which marked 29 million downloads on RWorld of Reliance mobile phones. This was later expanded to Uganda, East Africa and Tanzania. Later they came up with programmes on similar lines for climate change and tuberculosis.
While talking about the challenges faced by them, he said that from getting funds to collaborating with government and mobile operators to reaching out to rural people where mobile penetration is low, everything has been a challenge.
As ZMQ is also spread in Africa, we wanted to know which country has a better growth rate. To which Hilmi revealed that in terms of growth India is growing faster but in terms of adoption of programmes Africa is better as people are accepting. Moreover, if the government is handling a programme in Africa then it becomes easier to garner the trust of Africans.
On talking about his experience of working with the government, Hilmi said, “With government, one needs to be patient. They have access to a larger network, hence, the technology reaches out to the maximum. It is important to find the right person in the government who understands and connects with your targeted problem and its solution.” They have worked with NITI Aayog and have also been recognised by WHO.
“There are a lot of inequalities in the world, with digital connectivity we can develop equity among all the stakeholders,” said Hilmi on giving an advice to the people.
“India is a big country with a lot of challenges, if you have a mission and passion then don’t give up. Never lose hope, things will eventually happen! ,” advised Hilmi to the upcoming/aspiring entrepreneurs.
Image credit: Team ZMQ