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Arif Lemani

Arif Lemani

Managing Director, Head of Flagship Projects & Strategy Planning

Arif Lemani is an activist, and social innovator and is popularly called “The Idea Man”. He founded the Non-Profit, Small Wish International Foundation in 2015 with a vision to build an equitable and sustainable world. He is currently serving as the Head of Flagship Projects & Strategy Planning.

His Impact

He developed 14 Flagship Projects. Some projects which he has implemented in Phase I 2015-2022 are the CCEP Project, For a Change Project, Avant Garde Project, and the Youth Action & Leadership Training (YALT) Programme.

He started the CCEP Project, an unparalleled environmental project to promote and foster pro-environmental behavior and sustainable living. Apart from the standard sustainable living training programme, to enhance the impact of the project, he designed a Consumer Behavior Shaping Programme, environmental education curriculum for children to ensure environmental awareness at the school level in the brain development stages of a child, developed a circular EWS ecosystem inside the project with its own currency, to reduce waste by reusing and repurposing. He even interlinked the EWS ecosystem to benefit women and children living in poverty.

He started the For a Change Project to ensure decent childhood for children. He founded the concept of SVGs (Social Volunteer Groups), a high-impact and cost-effective concept in the project model to sustain the humanitarian efforts of the project. 

He started the Avant Garde Project, a first-of-its-kind project to explore innovatory ways to solve new challenges every year from grassroots to global level. He kick-started the project in 2021 by reviving the potential of Indigenous Community-Based Tourism in Majuli Island, The World’s Largest Riverine Island.

He started the Youth Action & Leadership Training (YALT) Programme to mentor young founders of Non-Profits, aspiring youth wanting to transition to the development sector, start a new era of advanced thinking Non-Profits and contribute to nation building.

He has championed many social causes with his social innovations. Through the flagship projects he initiated in Phase I, he empowered indigenous communities, improved the lives of hundreds of children, and helped thousands of people adopt sustainable living practices in lifestyle. Apart from the direct impact created by his Flagship projects, He has also consulted many non-profits working at the grassroots and continually provided expert advice to improve their project impact.

His Journey

He started his work in the summer of 2015. He committed four years to multi-disciplinary research work, Creative Problem Solving, and intensive learning to develop a solid knowledge base, find innovative solutions, develop cost-effective, high-impact, and scalable projects to meet global challenges, and support the SDGs.

During the initial years of his research work, he stayed in his home in isolation, switched off his cell phone, and disconnected himself from social media. His unconditional service to Small Wish International Foundation came with great personal sacrifice. Even though his hard work was fruitful, he eventually lost touch with all his friends.

In 2017, he took up a job to make savings to incorporate Small Wish International Foundation and scale his flagship projects. In 2019, he incorporated the Small Wish International Foundation. Due to limited funds, the first three years were a lot of heavy lifting, he worked two jobs, 10 AM-5 PM and then 6 PM-12 Midnight. To keep expenses at the bare minimum, he single-handedly did all the office work and contributed his savings towards the pilot implementation of the flagship projects.

For several years, he silently carried out his work at the grassroots staying away from the public eye. During his endeavors to find solutions to end poverty, He realized that being stuck in poverty can kill more hope than one could imagine. All those things many of us have taken for granted; some seldom have they ever had the joy of. He observed vulnerability, witnessed deaths, teary-eyed prayers to end sorrows, helplessly listened to unattended needs of the underprivileged, and reasoned himself the purpose of life. Those years changed the way he looked at life and helped him repurpose his life to work for the greater good.

In 2022, after the successful completion of Phase I 2015-2022. He made an early exit from his job, to put all his time and energy to work for Small Wish International Foundation.

His Early Life

Arif was 11 when his dad, a noted environmentalist started taking him out as a field volunteer in animal vaccination camps, and wildlife sanctuaries to understand wildlife conservation, and indigenous community visits to understand rural life. His dad actively took him to activism events where he and his siblings together advocated for the conservation of wetlands and endangered species like great adjutant stock. His dad’s minimalist lifestyle inspired him to adopt sustainable living practices and live a low carbon footprint lifestyle at the early stage of his life.

In addition, Arif received several academic awards during his High School, and had a brief sports career in swimming from 2005-2009 where when competed at State and National levels and won more than 18 medals.