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Annual convening of Global Action on Poverty (GAP)

Annual convening of Global Action on Poverty (GAP) Jan 31 – Feb 3, Gandhi Ashram & Gujarat Vidyapith

350+ passionate, powerful individuals, working across several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from all parts of the country and overseas, converged at Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad and pledged to not stop till poverty is eradicated (SDG Goal #1: No Poverty). The event was hosted by Head Held High Foundation & supported by Gandhi Ashram. The event was supported by grants from ONGC, Facebook, Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development, Andhra Pradesh Innovation Society as well as contributions (we had no registration fee!) by participants. GAP itself was supported by Tata Trusts in its initial years of evolution.

This unique event brought together inspiring Changemakers from every part of India and was stitched together on the Gandhian Philosophy of Truth, Love & Equality. The convening was designed in such a way that every Changemaker who participated was able to build bonds of love & trust with every other participant – and the surge of positive energy & love was very visible right through the convening. The event saw the participation of representatives from leading corporations like Asian Paints, Facebook, Taj Hotels, Tata Steel, Unilever, Fabindia, ONGC Foundation as well as representatives from Government – Andhra Pradesh Innovation Society, Ministry of MSME & Changemakers from rural and urban India.


This Convening spread over four days between 31 Jan – 3 Feb and had mentors/speakers like Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma (first Indian in space), Arun Maira (former Member, Planning Commission), Ravi Venkatesan (Special Representative, UNICEF), Ram Mohan Mishra (Additional Secretary, Ministry of MSME, Govt. of India), Sourav Roy (CSR Head, Tata Steel), Binali Suhandani (Head, AVPN India), Prableen Sabhaney (Head, Public Affairs – FabIndia), Shelley Thakral (Head – Public Policy Program, Facebook), DM Kiran (CEO, ONGC Foundation), Elizabeth Coffey ( Founder – Spark Leadership) amongst others.


Madan Padaki, Managing Trustee of Head Held High Foundation of which GAP is one of its initiatives set the tone for the day. “GAP is a community movement – it belongs to all those who have the passion to work towards the change they wish to see- and if we can create changemaking communities all over India, poverty will be history!”


Mr. Atul Pandya, Director of Gandhi Ashram also welcomed everyone to the Ashram & shared inspiring stories about Bapuji & his efforts at making the world more liveable and loveable. Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian astronaut in space was a very inspiring presence as he talked about expanding one’s vision by taking a macroscopic worldview of problems plaguing society. Ravi Venkatesan spoke about empowering youth to truly be leaders and helping them change the world around them.

Arun Maira talked about 3 journeys that all of us must go through – the learning journey, the collaboration journey and the action-together journey. Ram Mohan Mishra exhorted all social changemakers to work together collaboratively and learn to fly with emptiness of the ego. We had video messages from Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, Prof. Mohd Yunus, Nobel Laureate and Bill Drayton, Founder of Ashoka.

The Convening itself had four major themes for amplifying impact – Leveraging resources; Making causes more visible; Creative funding and Frugal innovation/Jugaad. Each theme had a range of mentors/experts sharing their learnings in an open & honest way; and a workshop that gave an opportunity for participants to apply these learnings into their plans. Participants and speakers worked together as co-travellers in a common journey to help end poverty.

Facebook conducted an in-depth workshop on how social media platforms can give a boost to their messages; the audience were also taken by the different tools available to them on platforms. Arun Maira also conducted a workshop on Systems Thinking: Before coming to the conclusion of any problem – ask the question why and understand the value systems from which the problem is emerging.


While every Changemaker has an inspiring story, here are some sample of Changemakers:

  • a Maharashtrian peace-maker in conflicted Kashmir who runs homes for girls orphaned in the war
  • a Mizo girl slogging to improve lives in rural Maharashtra in spite of the rural community refusing to accept her
  • a Lucknowi who owes his education to scholarships and wants every young person to have the same privilege
  • a young couple from Anand who makes it their mission to build a large women donor base who will donate sanitary napkins – to convert cloth users to a hygienic user of napkins
  • a social worker who saves farmers from suicide in Odisha by building irrigation systems and multi-crop methods
  • a young mother from Bangalore who wants to set up a rehabilitation & education home for kids affected by cerebral palsy – as she wants to prevent other mothers from going through the same ordeals that she has gone through
  • a social worker who rescues destitute old people from the streets of Hyderabad and provides them care in his house till they die a peaceful death
  • a young girl who is working on ending forced sex-work in the red-light areas of Delhi

Asian Paints & Taj Hotels partnered in the Corporate Change Leader program, where they nominated a few leaders from their companies to embark on a journey to work with assigned NGOs for a period of 1 year as Advisors & co-owners to the NGO, to help scale their initiatives. Overall, 50+ Change Leaders participated, and they were paired with 50 selected NGOs to work together on Big Impact Goals

On the beautiful lawns of Gujarat Vidyapith, all the Changemakers participated in Changemaker Circles where they sat with each other to exchange their stories and figure out how they can work together. Coaches, Mentors, Experts were all available for Express Garage sessions for Changemakers.


Outcomes from the Convening:

  • 50+ Big Impact Goals launched – with 50 Changemakers & 50 Change leaders crafting their plans of action to drive large impact
  • Over 100+ Changemakers pledged to take the ethos & model of GAP to be replicated in their communities over the next 1 year, impacting at-least 1000+ changemakers
  • Mahatma Gandhi Fellowship for Global Leaders was launched by Head Held High Foundation, in cooperation with the Gandhi Ashram to have 150 Global CEOs participate in the Fellowship by spending 10 days in imbibing the spirit of Gandhiji through transformative experiences
  • Several collaborations between corporate, donors & changemakers were initiated and GAP Secretariat to coordinate all these MOUs into action

Overall, all Changemakers came back from the event with their hearts filled with love, hope, inspiration & gratitude; concrete plans of learning & collaborating for larger impact and with a pledge of replicating the GAP philosophy & approach till no one is left behind as poor.

Manisha Dahad, the driving force behind GAP, shared this vision – Global Action on Poverty brings people from all walks of life together to unleash the greatness within them, and take specific actions in eradicating poverty from our world.



Head Held High Foundation ( is a non-profit that stands for human dignity. HHH focuses on initiatives for poverty eradication like Make India Capable, where a rural youth with no schooling is transformed into work-ready professionals and Global Action on Poverty (GAP) a platform that builds and supports Changemaking communities to eradicate poverty.  Head Held High is a non-profit organisation largely supported by donors like Tata Trusts & others.


GAP harnesses the power of “for-profit organizations” (corporates and professionals) to help “Social Impact organizations” (we call these NGOs/social enterprises as Changemakers) innovate & deliver substantially more impact on the ground. It’s an elegant model designed to harness value from strengths of what each does best and amplify impact on the ground.  GAP today has 560 Changemakers across the country, working across various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – supported by 700+ community of corporate leaders, Coaches, Mentors/Experts & Volunteers.


The first GAP event was held at Ahmedabad in Mar 2015 (watch the after-movie here) , and second convening in February 2016 (watch the after-movie here  )and now the third, larger edition was organised in Feb 2019.


Profile of Participants:

Changemakers: We had 200+ Changemakers from across India participating at GAP 2019.

SDG Focus % Changemakers
SDG 8 – Decent work and Economic Growth 40%
SDG 4 – Quality education 30%
SDG3: Good health and well being  15%
SDG 2 – Zero hunger 

SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production

Other SDGs 5%
Geographical Diversity: Changemakers from 15 States, 40% from Rural


Gender Diversity: 45% Women Changemakers


150+ Collaborators– including 15 coaches, 25 Business Experts, 30+ Development Sector Experts, 20+ CSR & 15+ Catalysts; 40+ Speakers



You can view the full, detailed agenda here: Event Agenda

We have been fortunate to get the endorsements for our mission from:




Our Gap family is unique.  We learnt lessons how to live for other: Sabirhusen Umatiya, Anjuman Welfare Trust

Came without a clue of what is in store, going out with loads of possibilities and work to be catered to. Renu Sarath Babu, Changemaker

Amazing event – one of its kind in India. Feeling humbled and grateful to be part of this event. Paras Goyal, Leadership Coach

Was able to improve my ability to connect to most of those who were there, and this is the most most satisfying outcome. We are collaborating and co learning in a space which we co-own. : Manish Kothari, Change Leader

All GAP team members, mentors, collaborators, coaches, changemakers for providing such an interactive, learning, and  connective  platform and giving such an insightful thoughts, guidance and a lot of motivation to work ahead by taking the pledge for a cause which is the solution of all the problems. : Aarti Gupta


From GAP it has become MERA GAP. When it’s mine, we don’t thank. We just love it. Let’s grow fast and make GAP proud: Sachin Revankar, Inspire Minds


Salute the entire GAP team for a superb planning & execution of such a large event with multiple and diverse participants. Take a Bow! and a Big Thank you to bring us together and learn from each other. This is just a beginning is what I would like to think Gurudutt, Mission Director, SVP India

I express my heartfelt gratitude for each one of you for giving such a wonderful life time experience.

Hats off to GAP Team for creating this Movement, and am sure they have added 300 new members in our GAP family… : Suresh Raju, Cope Cafe


The human spirits and emotions we had and shared in these 3 days can only be experienced, not described. I am coming back more clear and more eager to participate deeper in this movement. : Dipankar Guha, Change Leader, Kolkata


I came here thinking it is a leadership development program, but realised later that it is about my life’s journey to create a social impact! Yogesh Pethkar, Change Leader Asian Paints

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