For the joy of giving

Saif Qureishi (centre) with spouse Rauzat and Cyres Mehta, PP of RC Mumbai Pier, D 3141.

He is an AKS member and has been regularly donating to The Rotary Foundation over years for the sheer “joy of giving. It gives me joy to see good work being done by my contribution, and I believe if you are blessed with wealth, you should give.”

Meet Saif Qureishi, CEO and Managing Director of KRYFS Power Components, Mumbai, and a ­Rotarian and past president of RC Bombay Pier. His Rotary journey began from his days as an Interactor in the Christ Church School in ­Mumbai. He became the president of the Interact Club in 1979, was selected as a youth exchange student in 1981–82, when he went to Pennsylvania in the United States. After graduating in B Sc Physics from
St Xavier’s College, he did an MBA from IIM Bangalore. Hailing from a business family, he started his own company which makes power transformers, transformer cores and other power industry products.

I was struck by his words: If you become an AKS member, it will motivate many others also to donate to TRF.

Qureishi started his TRF donations with small sums of $100, and by 2012 his contribution had become $3000. In 2012, when Vijay Jalan became the DG of District 3140 — now 3141 — he asked him to become a Major Donor and Qureishi instantly agreed, contributing the balance $7,000 required. In 2014, when Ajay Gupta, “my good friend, and fellow club member, became the Governor, I called him up on the first day of his Governorship to congratulate him and told him I want to give some money for any good project that he may have. So let me know if you have a good project coming up.”

Gupta promised to do that and asked if he could contribute Rs 5 lakh. When Qureishi said he wanted to give more, Gupta raised the bar to Rs 10 lakh, “I said I wanted to give even more.”

With RI President John Germ.

Finally when the figure of Rs 20 lakh from Gupta got the same response of “even more,” the DG said: “Tell me the figure you have in mind.”

That figure was Rs 1 crore but Qureishi made it clear that he needed a specific project/projects identified before donating that money. The DG sought a few days’ time and reverted suggesting he become an AKS ­member. “At that time I had no idea what AKS was and asked for details and was told that this would mean a total sum of $250,000.”

When there is fanfare and special recognition, the focus shifts away from the giving.

This was more than the amount he had in his mind, which at the then exchange rate was around Rs 1.48 crore, instead of the Rs 1 crore he had in mind after deducting $10,000 of his credit. “Gupta also said another important thing; if you become an AKS member, it will motivate many others also to donate to TRF.”

This struck a chord with ­Qureishi; “I felt that would be worth it and I agreed to donate the sum named, but for a long time did not want my name disclosed because it involves a lot of fanfare that comes along with the recognition, which I did not want.”

But why would he shy away from recognition? “Because when there is fanfare, special recognition, etc, the focus shifts away from the giving … the joy of giving, to the recognition, and I did not want that,” he says.

Saif Qureishi with his mother, Kulsum Qureishi.

The money he donated while becoming an AKS member in 2014 has gone to five projects. The first project was providing 120 E-learning kits to 120 schools in Palghar District of Maharashtra. In the second, 120 paediatric heart surgeries are being done in the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai. Another term gift was providing modern equipment to the K B Haji Bachooali ­Charitable Ophthalmic & E N T Hospital in Parel; a bus was given to SEC, a school for challenged children, Mumbai; and for starting a new centre for visually and hearing challenged children in ­Mumbai in collaboration with Sense International (India). The total cost of the five projects, including RI grants, was $375,000 and all were sanctioned and initiated in the Rotary Year 2015–16.

Even after this major donation, Qureishi hasn’t stopped giving; he has already given another $30,000, taking his total contribution to TRF to $280,000. “And I plan to give more,” he says simply. His reply on why he had never contested for the Governor’s post is also simple: “Because I feel there are many more capable people to play that role.”

Qureishi is married, with two daughters and his father, who was a Rotarian, but only for one year, passed away last year.

On why he prefers to make all his charitable contributions to TRF, he says, “I feel that TRF is the right and best place to give so much money. It has no administrative cost, the projects are monitored by Rotarians themselves and the money reaches the target groups. And the projects done with TRF money have sustainability.”

On any special plans of giving during this, the TRF Centennial year, Qureishi says, “I haven’t made up my mind yet, but will certainly be giving.”

He keeps the best part for the last; on monitoring the projects that his money have helped implement, he says that now onwards he wants to involve his 700 employees from his five manufacturing units in these projects. “I want them to contribute their time and become a part of these community service activities,”  he says.

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