Why I’ve joined as an Advisor to the not-for-profit Forever Projects

Solai Valliappan
3 min readOct 30, 2023

I’ve joined as an Advisor to Forever Projects, a not for profit providing programs with local partners in Tanzania for women to create a self-sustaining future.

Here are my core reasons for aligning my time, effort, and expertise towards the organisation:

The team, values and mission

I first met Mark Dombkins, co-founder and CEO of Forever Projects during Startmate office hours in peak lockdown. Mark shared some information prior to our session and a brief meeting agenda he wished to cover given my skills and experience —an impressive pre-meeting interaction that got my attention, not many founders do this for office hours.

Part of the pre-meeting information included a video outlining Mark and Anna’s connection to Tanzania and their catalyst to starting Forever Projects. A phenomenal story demonstrating their generosity and growth mindset.

I loved how they described building a not-for-profit as a ‘hand up’ not a ‘hand out’ to the women they were empowering.

During this chat it was clear the team were applying frameworks typically seen in startups — scaling via tech / process, iterative sprints, subscriptions, and metrics, lots of metrics!

There have been instances I haven’t seen (for-profit) venture-backed startup founders execute these concepts with such clarity, so to see this embedded in a not-for-profit business model was unique.

Women go through a yearlong program of various modules, in the startup world we’d describe this as an accelerator! The goal is for these women to start a business that aligns to their skills and interest for self-sustaining independence.

Alignment with my skills, values and career

During 2020 I was also taking part in The Observership Program. There were two talks as part of the program that had the most significant impact on my career decisions going forward.

One talk was given by Tasneem Chopra (I’ll share the story of this one another day) and the other was by Joseph Skrzynski.

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Solai Valliappan

Tech investor with an actuarial background interested in technology, startups, investing and data driven insights to influence system change.