Watering the grassroots: Fundraising for the South Asian liberty movement

Sougandhi Bogupally is affectionately known as “Baby Capitalist” by her classmates at Azim Premji University in Bangalore, India where she is pursuing a Masters in Development. However, her pro-liberty views weren’t always so welcome in her program. In fact, her peers believed the ideas of liberty went against the interests of the poor. After doing research on property rights in the bauxite-rich Niyamgiri hills in south-west India, she earned the respect of her peers and her professors. But she wasn’t always so confident in herself,

“SFL has given me the ability to find my voice and use it to speak about my ideas. I debate a lot with my professors and lecturers because I am a more confident speaker and have a strong foundation in the ideas of liberty. Through SFL, I have also learned how to network more effectively and build relationships with different kinds of people.”

Sougandhi is South Asia SFL’s Regional Director for South India and Sri Lanka. She first got involved in 2016 after going to a conference where she heard Sriram Karri’s speech titled, “Why should I be an objectivist?” Since then, she’s become one of the most promising young leaders across South Asia, and the entire global SFL network. In 2018, she raised over $3,000 to help fund the Hyderabad Regional Conference and also provide scholarships for South Asia SFL’s event participants. The conference was one of the most successful of the year with over 250 participants in spite of the obstacles Sougandhi faced due to the Indian government’s bureaucracy.

After raising money for the conference from donors abroad, Sougandhi had problems receiving the funding in India. The Indian government has regulations on foreign funding and the uncertainty on how she would receive the funding meant that Sougandhi had many sleepless nights while she helped to organize this event. After battling through the bureaucracy, she came out on top. The success of the conference is a testament to her leadership skills, tenacity, and strength of character.

“I think that the experience of being the director of this conference taught me so many valuable lessons. I had to think of solutions to every problem that came up, and when the event was successful, I felt so proud. So many people want to join the movement now, and I am proud that SFL is spreading the ideas of liberty across the world.”

Over the last two years, Sougandhi has become one of the key leaders promoting the ideas of liberty in South Asia. She prefers to meet people on the ground to connect with them and find out areas of shared interests. This approach is responsible for her rise to be a truly effective advocate of individual rights, free markets, and open discourse. On what she’s most excited about for 2019, Sougandhi says, “We’ve worked so hard to make strategic partnerships with established think tanks in Hyderabad. They are impressed with the work we are doing and want to fund our work and collaborate on events. Although we are still in the early stages, we are making progress towards strengthening the movement through building coalitions with organizations in the region.”

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