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Habitat And ASK Group Celebrate 100 Houses Completed In Western India

Volunteers From The Indian Financial Services Group Worked On 8 Houses During Earlier Build

KARJAT, 12th June 2008: When Habitat home partners in Dharewadi village, western India, were handed symbolic keys to their new houses, they were told that these were no ordinary keys. Rather, these represented the keys to the beginning of a better life for the 100 families who received Habitat houses funded by ASK Group.

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Turnout: Habitat homepartners at the handover ceremony.

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Memorable day: Homepartner Vimal Agiwale sharing her pride and joy.

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Appreciation: ASK Group chairman Asit Koticha (center) with a homepartner (left).

The remarks were made by Mrs Pramodaben Koticha, mother of the chairman of ASK Group, one of India’s leading financial services groups. ASK Group partnered with Habitat for Humanity India on the 100-house project in Karjat, south of Mumbai in Maharashtra state.

Habitat home partner Vimal Agiwale reflected Mrs Pramodaben’s sentiment by saying: “Today is a memorable day of my life. I am proud of this achievement and request ASK and Habitat to help women like me realize our dreams.”

Through its social wing, Life Mumbai, a non-profit organization, ASK Group donated 3.6 million rupees (more than US$91,000) to build homes for tribal families living in Karjat. The group presented the check to HFH India in October 2007, a move that was inspired by a call from John Abraham, Indian movie star and HFH India’s goodwill ambassador. Abraham made the call in the Join John’s Brigade campaign, a public service video announcement that is part of Habitat’s IndiaBUILDS. The campaign aims to construct 50,000 homes by 2011 through harnessing volunteers and resources.

Earlier in March, ASK Group also sent about 60 volunteers who included staff and high net-worth customers to build with eight Habitat homepartners in Dharewadi village.

Chairman Asit Koticha was among the volunteers who joined the two-day build. “It is important to give back to society and this is our humble effort to provide 100 needy families, in 30 villages in and around Karjat, with decent houses to live in. I am very happy to be associated with Habitat for Humanity through our social wing, Life Mumbai,” he said at the time. “Habitat for Humanity is doing some real good work and I am very encouraged by their efforts, which is very much in line with our philosophy of empowering the underprivileged rather than just plain charity.”

Building upon its commitment to give back to the society, ASK Group recently pledged 43.7 million rupees (about US$1.1 million) to build 1,200 houses in partnership with Habitat in the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Several hundred guests, including Habitat homepartners, clients of ASK Group and representatives from Habitat’s partner, Academy of Development Science, a local non-governmental organization, attended the recent handover ceremony.

In his address, ASK Group’s Asit Koticha, encouraged those present to contribute to the noble cause of providing a roof to the homeless and to give back to society what they owe.

Set up in 1983, Mumbai-based ASK Group is known primarily for equity research and investment advisory services in India and abroad. The diversified group also has expertise in portfolio management, financial planning, institutional broking and investment banking. Its social wing, Life Mumbai, is a non-profit organization that serves rural families in health, education and environment sectors.