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Giving Back: Rashmi Hegde | Social Development Head, MAYA

Tell us about yourself and your background

Rashmi Hegde (F) - MAYAI am Rashmi Hegde, born and raised in Mangalore. I completed my Masters in Social Work at Roshni Nilaya, Mangalore and have been working in the development sector for the past 25 years. Growing up, I was raised in an environment that fostered an ability in me to respond to situations around me. Working towards the betterment of society came organically to me and naturally evolved in to my profession.

I have been involved in designing and implementing large scale developmental programs and have worked with not-for-profits, the government and also in the corporate sector. My contributions have been in the areas of building support structures to address childrens’ rights, livelihoods, health, and empowerment of women for sustained change. My passion is to contribute in making this world more equitable and socially just.

About your organisation

MAYA (Movement for Alternatives and Youth Awareness) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) with over two decades of experience in the space of social transformation in India. We have always believed in the ability of individuals in addressing issues affecting their own lives and to make lasting positive changes. MAYA works on creating an environment that enables individuals to collectively solve bigger systemic issues. We have been working over the years to create an empowered and equitable society that systemically addresses livelihood, education and now health.
The differentiating facet of MAYA’s working culture is that our past projects have evolved into successful independent entities impacting millions of lives.

We have learnt much from our past work on education and livelihood, where one of our key takeaways has been that health is a crucial parameter in an individual’s life, affecting the ability of such vulnerable sections of society to escape poverty. This is a burning systemic issue which gave rise to the MAYA Health Project.

Many times the reactive approach to healthcare poses heavy cost burdens on lower socio-economic populations, forcing them to remain poor. We truly believe MAYAHealth model has the potential to help millions of lives, which are lost due to ill health and poverty. The program would ensure communities intervened in become proactive towards health and can make informed health decisions.

We work with marginalized communities especially those in the lower rung of the socio-economic strata, as they are the worst affected by ill health. We have rolled out the pilot for MAYAHealth a year and a half ago. This is a preventive health project that empowers women as the last-mile-connect for healthcare to the doorsteps of people who need it the most. The project up to now has reached out to more than 45,000 people.

MAYAHealth is bridging healthcare gaps by providing accessibility and affordability to quality healthcare services/products through educated and sensitized local women. We train local women as micro health entrepreneurs who provide preventive health services and products in their communities. These women are called Health Navigators. They work for, with and in tandem with key enabling components such as local partners, health ecosystems, technology tools, preventive health services and products whilst driving community improvement in health.

The current pilot is in a semi urban town of Chanapatna, in Karnataka. We have 30 health navigators who have impacted over 4000 people directly. The Health Navigators are formed into collective social enterprises (CSEs) which allows them to not only impact health of people in their communities but also find viable ways to generate income and make a living in the long run. The model is designed to viably work towards increasing health education, proactive action and local livelihoods for the community.

We would expand our geographic reach and streamline the project components for scalability and replication. The unique facet of this project is also that we work with a decentralized and partnership approach. MAYA plays a key overarching role of providing the training, designing need based health services-products, technology support and project management.

When was the organisation established?

It was established on 19th January 1991 and registered under the Karnataka Societies Act of 1960.

Which cities are you operating from?

We are currently operating from our Head Office in Bangalore, India

Why was the organisation set up? / What prompted you / the founders to set up the organisation?

The organisation was formed in the 90s and had an initial focus on addressing the rights of children and youth. During the initial years, Maya worked very closely with street children and supported them in exploring vocational training for alternative employment opportunities. Over the years, we have worked extensively on addressing child rights and livelihoods, and we have begun work on preventive health.

What’s your involvement / How did you get involved?

My involvement in Maya has been evolving. I started with designing and executing programs in the areas of child labour, early childhood care and livelihoods. I am currently working on piloting a sustainable healthcare model that will deliver preventive health care services to doorsteps of the community, through a well-trained line of Health Navigators.

What is the mission of the organisation?

Our vision for MAYA is “Working to create an empowered and equitable society that systemically addresses livelihood, education and health”.

Our vision for MAYAHealth is “To enable preventive health and promote overall wellbeing”

Our mission for MAYAHealth is “To build a sustainable health ecosystem of caregivers who focus on providing preventive- promotional health care services and access to primary healthcare that is affordable to the community.”

Objectives of MAYAHealth:

1. Develop health knowledge of the individual and community to take control of their health, access health services and actively participate in building healthy environments.

2. To train and empower local Health Navigators to deliver high quality, affordable and easily accessible preventive healthcare services to the community. Thereby acting as a last mile connect to healthcare.

3. Develop a sustainable ecosystem and linkages to support Health Navigators and address health needs of the community.

4. Develop a model that can be sustainably scaled up using technology and create an impact on health in India.

Are you currently running any special initiatives?


At MAYA we empower local women as micro-entrepreneurs who drive preventive health in their community. They are trained for over a year on basic healthcare and also to form their own collective enterprises which enable them to work together to address community health needs. This bottom up approach to bridging the gaps in healthcare accessibility and affordability is driving community led interventions. They carry out a number of field surveys to assess the relevant needs of the community. Collection, analysis, monitoring and reporting of key health data is paramount to their services. The Health Navigators are educating communities to live healthy and prevent illnesses. They provide clients with door to door services.

Health Kits enable them to provide an array of services which help people manage illness and also make informed health decisions. The key role of the last mile connect is to also work collaboratively with the community and local health ecosystem (Government institutions, local clinics, private hospitals and medical practionners) to enhance the healthcare scenario for the marginalised, so that no person is left behind helpless to sickness.

MAYA is developing a robust technology platform which would enable the health data collection, predictive analysis and reporting process more automated in the community. They health navigators service clients with preventive healthcare at their door-step’s, they also provide individualised health-cards and other education to each registered client in the program for a minimum annual subscription fee. They use handheld devices (Tablets) to capture this key data and make this information meaningful to the client. Each Health Navigator has the potential to reach out to approximately 2,000 people and this handheld enhances their ability to effectively do so.

Preventive Health Services and Products

At MAYA our preventive health services is inclusive of all the population segments ranging from adults above the age of 60 to children below 5.There are a number of services and products currently being rolled out in the community based on the needs of the same. Through our pilot baseline surveys we have identified Hypertension, Diabetes and Women’s health as key health issues in the community. We at MAYA empower the health Navigator to effectively develop and educate clients on how to prevent, manage and monitor such health concerns. Health Navigators service clients in the following areas of- General wellness and collaborative diet charts and counselling, Hypertension and Diabetes management, Eye care , First aid and emergency referrals, Malnutrition services, menstrual health and hygiene, school health programs and products such as nutrition mixes, sanitary napkins etc.

Each health navigators also empowers individuals from the community to form into health groups, who support the health navigator’s communications and activities. Health camps and other awareness activities are regularly conducted in the field to increase community buy in on preventive health and behavioural changes.

How do you fundraise?

The MAYAHealth Model allows for both self -generated revenue on the field by the Health Navigators/beneficiaries and also through partial funding from grants for this; we have a diverse fundraising strategy which integrates Individual donors through online platforms for crowdfunding, Events, Social Media Campaigns. We also raise grants and mobilise resources from aid agencies, international development institutions and Corporate CSR funds (Medium/Large and small)

How can others help?

There are a number of ways people can be involved in the MAYAHealth movement of #inspiringhealth.

Tan individual can help in resource mobilizations and pro-bono partnerships in the areas of (Health Training and mentorship, Technology development, Research and innovation, Design and development of preventive health products and services Volunteering and networking for social media and collaborative events).

Who are the faces behind the organisation:

• Jayprakash Solomon- Founder
• CEO- Alex Rodrigues
• Program Director- Dr. Vasudev Thimmiah
• Board Members
• MAYA Team

Contacting Rashmi Hegde

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