We are meeting with Mahindra chairman Anand Mahindra, who we have come to know as the charismatic, ambitious and passionate force behind the company. We have joined him and his senior general manager of corporate brand management Karthik in their offices in South Mumbai to discuss Rise, Mahindra’s core purpose.
“Driving positive change in the lives of stakeholders and communities sounds like a great and very necessary purpose,” I say.
“How do you make this work?”
“It isn’t just a clever phrase, we actually live it,” Anand says. “It is a purpose that has been fully adopted by our employees and other stakeholders. Where Rise is the group’s initiative, ‘Spark the Rise’ is the initiative of the employees and other company stakeholders who seek to add to the purpose.”
“Spark the Rise?” I ask.
“It starts with the Spark the Rise platform,” says Karthik as he looks at Anand and then at us, “an online platform where people can connect, collaborate and exchange ideas, procure volunteers and donors, but also compete for monthly grants from Mahindra.”
“That’s a great concept,” I say. “Having a purpose for the brand is one thing, but if your employees adopt it and even create their own interpretation, you’ve really found a winning formula!”
“I get the idea behind Spark the Rise. So how do you apply Rise in your everyday business? Can you share some examples with us?” I ask.
“Mahindra Solar is an interesting case,” says Anand, “we’re providing villages that have not yet been connected to the electricity grid, with solar panels to light up their homes and streets. It’s stimulating great change: for example in the village of Malti, situated in a rural area in the North of India, they use the solar panels to light up evening schools so children who work in the fields during the day can nevertheless enjoy an education.”
“One of my favourite cases is the Yuvraj 215,” Karthik says, “a small tractor we developed. Most small farmers can’t afford expensive machinery. So we designed a low-cost tractor, compact and easy to operate. It is life changing for farmers who upgrade from bullocks, power tillers, or even manual labour. We don’t just sell machinery; we help to drive prosperity in rural areas. By providing loans based on their future earnings, we help people to purchase the equipment.
“Our agribusiness services support farmers at every stage of their business development, from seed supply to crop care to distribution. We contribute to growth by helping farmers enhance their productivity and prosperity with our products and services.”
“Really inspiring,” I say. “It’s all about doing business with a larger social purpose.”
“Talking about doing business with a larger social purpose,” Anand says, “our electric cars are another great example. The concept of mobility is undergoing significant change, driven by environmental concerns, oil economics and rapidly changing consumer needs. This is why we are looking to newer, superior mobility solutions.
The issues of climate change and energy security have to be addressed. That’s why we think that the future of the automotive industry is electric.”
“We read that you acquired a majority stake in Reva Electric Car Company,” I say. “Sounds like a smart decision, something you can build on, instead of starting from scratch and reinventing the wheel.”
“Our aim with Reva is to advance the design and production of electric cars worldwide,” says Anand. “By integrating Reva’s electric car technology with our own quality engineering, we can build high-performance electric vehicles that satisfy customer demand both for better lifestyles and a healthy environment.”
“And what about the production process? How does that meet growing environmental expectations?” I ask.
“In 2012, we inaugurated a new plant in Bangalore, with a production capacity for 30,000 vehicles per year. The new facility harvests rainwater, uses natural light and ventilation, and solar energy for electricity and heating. So we have a clean manufacturing process that produces clean vehicles, plus a battery-recycling program! Our aim is for our electric cars to have the lowest dust-to-dirt carbon footprints in the automotive world.”
“This really sounds great,” I say. “Driving positive change and creating value for stakeholders and society: this is really the path big corporations should follow.
Your philosophy of Rise is a great example!”
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