‘Ummeed’: Building hope for children with developmental disabilities in India

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After studying medicine and specialising in paediatrics in India, Dr Vibha Krishnamurthy, the founder and Medical Director of Ummeed, underwent further training in children’s developmental disabilities in the US. The resources available at the centres there highlighted to her the lack of similar facilities in India. After relocating to India in 1998, she decided to set out on her own. In November 2001, supported by her husband, Vibha founded Ummeed – a non-governmental organisation (NGO) – that provides an integrated medical and therapeutic support system for children with developmental disabilities in India. Founded with an initial staff of only three professionals, Ummeed has, in the past 12 years, grown to include about 50 professionals, ranging from paediatricians to therapists, mental health professionals and social workers. It has additionally moved into areas of training, research and advocacy, and is increasingly well regarded as one of India’s leading non-governmental organisations, much respected for its work with children with disabilities.

But with this growth, the constant challenge to procure adequate funding has only been exacerbated. Moreover, Ummeed's strategic plan and business model is built around the theory that if it were able to access children with disabilities (and those at risk) early through their families, it could maximise their outcomes for educational, financial and social achievement. Hence, its business model involves creating ways to access families through building awareness and demand in communities, with subsequent capacity building and training. But is this the most effective way to create a change for children with disabilities and their families? Vibha also recognises that Ummeed’s evolution has brought her to a crossroads where a decision will soon have to be made: while on the one hand, she would like to keep Ummeed ‘small’, retaining the personalised organisation culture that she has embedded at all levels – on the other hand, she would like to scale-up Ummeed, so that it could extend its reach. How can this be done? How should Ummeed position itself? What would be the best way to create an impact in this field?

Through this case discussion, students will examine and analyse some of the issues faced by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), particularly with regard to scale and sustainability. The students will also be able to analyse how Ummeed could market and position itself, and look at the “business model” of the firm, analysing what constitutes the fundamental elements of a business model - e.g., customer value proposition, enabling technology, and profit model - or in Ummeed’s case, the break even model.


Strategic management, business model, break-even analysis, NGO, non-government organization, customer value proposition, marketing, positioning, paediatrics


Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Strategic Management Policy

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Field Research



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Executive Education; Postgraduate; Undergraduate


Singapore Management University

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