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Collection: Mohnish Pabrai - #124 'Dakshana Foundation'



Hi, I read that you have a foundation the Dakshana Foundation. I hope I’m saying it right. Can you explain what it means and how you thought of it, how you formed it and how you decided how it would operate?


Sure. Yeah, so we – my wife and I, we set up Dakshana I think in 2007.

And in 2007 our net worth went over $50 million. And I always felt that large inheritance is actually are a burden on your kids, they’re not really helpful to them and actually my kids are both here and I think they would endorse that idea. Especially now that my younger daughter knows that she’s going to have more money than what she knows how to do with without any help from dad.

So you know, basically once we cross 50 million I said, you know, I was in my early 40s that I did not want to start with the give back when I was really old because then I wouldn’t be able to do much, I just be able to write a cheque. And I knew that giving money away is more difficult than making it.

And so I wanted to have many years of ability to make mistakes and learn and then get better. So what we did is we set up the foundation 2007 and decided we’ll give away 2% of our assets every year, and so that would give us over a million dollars a year and million gave me enough money to do some experimentation. And the idea was to lose, hopefully lose and learn, so in 10 years, we’d figured out some model that worked.

And what ended up happening actually is that we didn’t lose any money because in the first few weeks, we got traction. We – you know, I wanted to focus on education, I wanted to focus on underprivileged in India, I wanted to think – the idea was to, you know, if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, you teach a man to fish, you feed for lifetime, so I wanted to teach fishing to very poor kids.

And so we found a model where we identified very poor and gifted kids and we prepared them for the IIT entrance exam. And that model basically forced the Indian government to give large subsidies to these kids once they got in.

And it worked really well, I mean the wonderful thing about Dakshana is that all of the operations and work is in India, and I only go there a couple of times and usually when I go to India, I never spent any time in the Dakshana office. I think half the time, I’ve never even stepped in there. I'm usually going to either the schools where we run a program or to the homes of the scholars in different rural areas.

So the team in India actually I was very lucky that we got a great partnership with the government of India, we got really good people, have a great CEO and really they treated it as their baby and built it and such. And so it worked out really well.

And now I think we are – we just bought a 110 acre campus near Pune and that was a large bet for us, it was a $10 million dollar bet and we’ve almost paid off, we paid it off $8 million so far and that gives us the ability long term to host a few thousand kids there overtime. So it actually worked out far better than I thought, we didn’t have any issues in term of traction. The model worked well.

In fact, a lot of other people have stepped in and become a donor to Dakshana, so I think now what half the money comes from my family and half comes from outside. So it’s worked out really well, so – but it’s a good team that helped us do that, so that was great.



[YAPSS Takeaway]

Any Dakshana scholar here?😊❤️

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