My vision is to make the concept of giving accountable: Salman Khan

My vision is to make the concept of giving accountable: Salman Khan

In an interview with Business Today's Ajita Shashidhar, actor Salman Khan talks about his vision for the Being Human Foundation. Edited excerpts:

Actor Salman Khan Actor Salman Khan
The iconic Mehboob Studio in Mumbai is teeming with pre-schoolers on a Wednesday evening. They are on the sets of a pre-school educational video anchored by actor Salman Khan. Surrounded by the children, Khan enacts the ABCD alphabet song. He begins with "A for Apple", then says "B for Bodyguard"... The kids get hysterical as he flexes his muscles and the song has to stop for a while.

This is Khan's latest initiative to raise money for his charitable trust, Being Human Foundation. The foundation works to provide affordable healthcare and primary education. After launching Being Human apparel stores, Khan is now working on educational videos for children up to the age of nine.

While a content deal with a kids' entertainment channel could well be on the cards to begin with, Khan is partnering a music company to distribute these educational videos across the country. The idea is to make education not only accessible but also entertaining.

In an interview with
Ajita Shashidhar, Khan talks about his vision for the Being Human Foundation. Edited excerpts:

Q. Can you tell us all about the Being Human Foundation?
A. The concept of Being Human came to me from my parents, who have always been active in charity. But the flip side to charity is that you are not sure that the money you are giving is going to the right person. My parents and even I have been conned several times, and that hurts. I decided to channelise giving. I have made sure that I don't give to individuals. I only give to institutions, which give me complete accountability of where my money is being spent.

Q. I have read that you are opposed to accepting donations and the primary source of revenue comes out of the sale of Being Human merchandise…
A. A percentage of (the earnings from) my acting career goes into the Being Human Foundation. I am not against donations, but I will never go and ask people to donate money. They may give me money once or twice, but they may not want to do it repeatedly. Also, there is scope for misuse of the Being Human brand name. People are capable of printing Being Human flyers and asking for money without my knowledge and eventually using the money for themselves. I want to be transparent in my dealings.

The ideal way was to get people to buy things they liked and give the proceeds to the foundation.

Q. You launched Being Human in Paris. Why Paris?
A. I wanted to launch my brand in a place where no one knew Salman Khan. I wanted to sell my products on the strength of quality and design. Our products sell in over 150 outlets in France, Belgium and Spain. We are also widespread in the Middle East. The idea is to get people to invest in Being Human apparel not just once, but repeatedly (around 10 per cent goes as royalty to the Foundation on every sale of a Being Human garment). We can do so only if our quality is good.

I must tell you that one of the reasons our women's line is taking time to hit the stores is because I rejected it as I was not happy with the design. I am obsessed with quality.

Q. How do you plan to take Being Human forward?
A. I want the Being Human brand to touch the lives of people at every moment. I am launching Being Human cafes. I also have a deal with the travel portal, where with each transaction, Re 1 would go to the Being Human Foundation. I have partnered with Rotomac to launch Being Human bacteria-free pens.

My vision is to make the concept of giving accountable. I want to stop the mindset of putting money in a box and forgetting about where and who the money is going to.

Q. Finally, how is Salman Khan as a businessman?
A. I am the most foolish businessman (he smiles) in the world. A good businessman would want to make profits. But I am not into the business of making profits, as whatever money I make, goes to charity.