Kumudini Welfare Trust – an unusual model

Alliance magazine

Established in the early 1940s by Rajiv Prasad Shaha, Kumudini Welfare Trust of Bengal focuses on the welfare of women and poor people in Bangladesh. The Trust is named after Shaha’s mother, who died when he was a child. He gave his entire fortune, amassed through business ventures including transportation and the supply of coal, to the Trust.

The Trust now runs a number of businesses whose principal aim is to make a profit so as to support its public welfare and humanitarian activities. Each business has a separate corporate identity, but remains subject to the Trust’s overall control. The founder’s grandson, another Rajiv Prasad Shaha, is now managing director. This is an unusual model because it is not the family that owns the business and gives to philanthropy but the philanthropic trust that owns the companies that support the philanthropic causes.

The Trust’s welfare activities include: the 750-bed Kumudini Hospital, which offers free treatment to poor people from all over the country; the Kumudini Hospital School, which trains 250 nurses a year; Bharateswari Homes, a residential school which offers elementary and secondary education to over 1,200 girls; and Kumudini Handcrafts, which helps artisans, mostly women, to generate income. Kumudini also operates its own vegetable dyeing plant.

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