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Arif Lemani

Managing Director, Head of Flagship Projects & Strategy Planning

Arif Lemani is an activist, social innovator, and artist. He has championed many social causes with his social innovations. His work has improved the lives of children deprived of decent childhood, empowered youth to take social action, and enabled thousands of people to live sustainably. He founded the Non-Profit, Small Wish International Foundation in 2015 and is currently serving as the Managing Director, Head of Flagship Projects & Strategy Planning.

His Journey

Arif was 11 when his dad, an 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.

He started his pursuit in the summer of 2015 with a vision to build an equitable and sustainable world. He committed years to trans-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 worked in isolation and disconnected himself from social media. For several years, he silently carried out his work at the grassroots staying away from the public eye. Those years changed the way he looked at life and helped him repurpose his life to work for the greater good. His unconditional service to Small Wish International Foundation came with great personal sacrifice. Even though this process constructively led to some brilliant ideas, he eventually lost touch with all his friends.

In 2017, he took up a job in the Judiciary to make savings to start his non-profit and implement his ideas/solutions through projects. In 2019, he incorporated the Small Wish International Foundation. The first three years were a lot of heavy lifting, he worked two jobs, 14 hrs a day, undertook multiple roles & responsibilities to reduce expenses, and contributed his savings to keep the non-profit going. 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 Ideas & Impact

In his mission to achieve Environmental Sustainability, He initiated the CCEP Project to promote, foster pro-environmental behavior and sustainable living, and support climate action. He initiated the EWS Sale, an annual upcycling program to reduce waste and increase the appeal of upcycled, creatively reused, and repurposed products among consumers.

In his efforts to end child poverty, He initiated the For a Change Project to build compassionate communities to join the fight to end child poverty and ensure decent childhood for underprivileged children. He developed a concept of SVGs (Social Volunteer Groups), a high-impact and cost-effective way to increase public/youth participation to sustain the humanitarian efforts of the project. “During my endeavor to find solutions to end poverty, I 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 children seldom have they ever had the joy of.”

To empower youth to become changemakers and contribute to nation-building, He initiated the Youth Action & Leadership Training (YALT) Programme. In addition, He initiated the AEDI Fellowship, to support young creative people to implement an idea that responds to a problem they want to solve in their communities.

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 delivery and impact.