Vasanthan Ramakrishnan: Making Important Strides in Creating a World with Zero Barriers

Vasanthan Ramakrishnan
Vasanthan Ramakrishnan

Who comes to mind when you think of a “Visionary Leader”? Is the late Steve Jobs making an announcement about a new device that will once more transform culture and communication? Elon Musk, the fearless outlier who is breaking new ground in the development and manufacture of vehicles and opening the door to the prospect of your own space travel?

While it might be easy to refer to someone like Jobs or Musk as “Visionary Leaders,” such leadership does not always have to be obnoxious and pompous. Imagine a world where every child has access to clean water to drink, wholesome food to eat, and a family that has been rescued from the depths of abject poverty.

Vasanthan Ramakrishnan, Founder & Chair of Feminist Pen Foundation, is one such visionary leader who is committed to help people of all races, faiths, and colors escape the social swamp of outdated ideals that has caused them generational suffering.

Young Vasanthan had a highly constrained and limited perspective of the world because he was born in rural Madurai into a family of educators. He discovered as he grew up that he was innately driven to help others and that having an effect on someone’s life brings about a sense of joy and purpose.

His dreams didn’t come true, though, until he eventually made the plunge into something he views as the realization of his prophecy in his early 20s. The Feminist Pen Foundation was founded as a result of his creative use of the limitless opportunities surrounding him.

A Journey towards Greater Good

Vasanthan had relatively limited experience in the professional world before embarking on his entrepreneurial career. He holds an undergraduate degree in engineering from one of India’s top engineering colleges and a master’s degree from a Big 10 university in the US. He made up for his lack of expertise with zeal and a never-ending desire to change the world.

Vasanthan started volunteering for non-profit organizations through campus chapters like Red Cross India and Habitat for Humanity in his late teens, which marked the beginning of his journey toward impact creation. He gradually started to comprehend the egregious inequity that afflicted the nation at the time and what took the shapes of racism, religion, colorism, ageism, sexism, and casteism.

With a relentless curiosity to learn more and gain a global perspective, after graduating from one of the top universities in India (VIT University), Vasanthan moved to the US to pursue his master’s at a Big 10 university. The Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Feeding America, and homeless shelter volunteering were all stops on his path to creating impact. Vasanthan was more shocked to learn that there was still poverty, starvation, and injustice in the US and that these issues were universal human concerns that affected everyone.

He had always strongly gone by his favorite quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the difference you want to see in the world around you”. And while volunteering made a difference locally, he couldn’t see himself making a large-scale difference with volunteer work, so he decided to be the change he wanted to see.

Thus, the Feminist Pen Foundation was born. In 2020, when COVID hit and Vasanthan visited his family in India, he got stuck for over six months because of the global lockdowns, and that time was his muse for creating Feminist Pen Foundation. In two years, what began as a blogging website grew to an award-winning international non-profit organization with a presence in four countries: India, the United States, the Netherlands, and Dubai.

Today, Feminist Pen Foundation has employees working from over six countries, three continents, and seven different time zones, and the organization has multiple subsidiary organizations that function independently from Feminist Pen Foundation, such as the Center for Innovation in Emerging Technology (CIET) that works on developing technological applications to benefit the common good.

Bequest of Excellence

Today, 1 in 3 women will encounter gender-based violence (GBV) at least once in their lifetime, while over 9% of the world’s population (689,000,000 people) live in severe poverty and make less than $2 a day. Less than 16% of the world’s countries have allowed same-sex marriage as of July 2022, while 11 nations throughout the world have executed those found guilty of consenting to same-sex conduct.

The team at the Feminist Pen Foundation set out to address every issue that prevents or harms international human equality since there is so much more in our world that is obviously wrong, unjust, noncommunal, destructive, and discriminatory.

As a non-profit human rights organization, Feminist Pen’s goal is to provide human rights advocacy to some of the most oppressed people in the world. Feminist Pen firmly believes that change comes about via education, and its fundamental mission is to spread feminism’s principles as they pertain to the greater idea of human equality, as opposed to the more popular gynocentric interpretation of the term.

Feminist Pen was established in 2020, and despite its short existence, it has already managed to garner national media attention and won four renowned business awards for excellence. Feminist Pen operates internationally with a staff of more than 50 people, annually reaching an audience of more than 500,000 people from over 17 nations.

Through advocacy, campaigns, and global partnerships with some of the largest organizations in the world, Feminist Pen is taking small leaps towards closing the global gender parity gap, the economic crisis and tackling human rights violations across India, Iran, and Indonesia.

The Initial Challenges

It is widely acknowledged that COVID-19’s intrinsic limitations led to historically significant legislative changes that people all around the world are working to overturn. For instance, since governments began tracking the cell phones of COVID-affected people throughout the world, the right to privacy, especially digital privacy, has drastically decreased.

This unintentionally exposed racial minorities, social justice activists, journalists, and other vulnerable people to heightened scrutiny from the government and organizations regulated by the government.

There are several difficulties in starting and maintaining a global non-profit organization now. Some of Vasanthan and Feminist Pen Foundation’s initial challenges were having a sufficient funding source to run the group, which resulted in sluggish expansion and difficulties employing additional staff.

The foundation faced difficulties getting a budget since it seeks to be competitive in all areas of business, including paying fair wages to all employees, including interns, and always learning how to better its approach to achieving its objective. The management at Feminist Pen is creating several revenue streams, from starting an apparel-fashion business to focusing on developing a large-scale cryptocurrency and NFT platform. 90% of non-profits in India get all of their funding from fundraising. Instead of relying on a century-old practice, the foundation strives to be different, and that offers it a unique path to sustainable development and the realization of its future goals.

Values that Make Feminist Pen Unique

Feminist Pen Foundation’s vision of achieving “One world with zero barriers” is the USP of almost every human right non-profit organization. However, what separates them from the crowd is the foundation’s methodology and execution that will lead to achieving its vision. Unlike 80% of non-profit organizations, Feminist Pen was founded with the intention of functioning internationally and is doing so.

In addition, the Feminist Pen Foundation was founded on the pillars of technology, operating remotely across all of its continental locations and beginning as a digital-first organization with just one administrative office. Feminist Pen has continued to accept and improvise on technologies that influence our operations, despite the fact that less than 30% of non-profit organizations use cutting-edge and new technologies in their work.

Feminist Pen Foundation implemented an electronic timekeeping system in 2022 that was created internally by its own software development team. Since 100% of the team from all offices collaborates on the cloud, there is no longer any need to retain any physical documentation. Additionally, the whole firm uses the cloud for everything from financial transactions to staff interactions, accelerating the adoption of technology.

A Note for Emerging Visionaries

The best piece of advice Vasanthan has ever received—and the one he will give to young business people just starting out or considering launching a business—is to have a dream and to passionately pursue that dream. Before anybody else can decide, he says that the biggest mistake an individual can make is self-rejection. Self-rejection kills possibilities, and bright ideas are buried behind uneasiness and anxiety.

Vasanthan says, “Success is made up of a thousand failures, so it is important to keep the eye on the prize (one’s dream) and work until they make it.” He further adds that this advice helped him get Feminist Pen to where it is now, and anybody can do it as long as they put their mind and heart into it.

Revelation of Future Ideas

Since last year, the Feminist Pen Foundation has experienced explosive growth. It expects to introduce at least five distinct programs that will function separately from the main company and involve teams from at least 15 different nations.

At this rate, Feminist Pen will be one of the less than ten organizations with headquarters in the state that have consultative status with the UN, have collaborations with several governments, and have the capacity to reach over 10 million viewers annually from at least 25 different nations.

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