This article originally appeared in AWMB magazine on 2nd September 2015.
We spoke to Meeta Thareja and here’s what she had to say!
Born and raised in India, I moved to the UK in 2008. I set up my own company, MetaValue along with business partner Suzie Campbell at the peak of recession in 2012. Our ambition was to be an antidote to austerity and help organisations grow and thrive rather than take a sledge-hammer approach to cut down costs and jobs.
MetaValue has since worked with organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sector, including projects funded by the Cabinet Office to help local Councils maintain and improve services for local communities often under tough financial situations. We have a team of 15 associates and actively promote and provide opportunities for student internships to support young people with employability skills. MetaValue is also a London Living Wage employer.
We strongly believe that every organisation however large or small has a responsibility towards the community. Therefore since inception, we have pledged 1% of MetaValue’s annual revenues to social impact causes. This has included supporting the Clement James Centre – a charity working with communities in the most deprived borough of London and The William Wilberforce Trust that works with people in prisons and helps rehabilitate ex-offenders.
I also mentor student start-up businesses as part of University of East London’s Enterprise & Employability scheme and actively volunteer in my local community with SGI – an international not-for-profit organisation that promotes peace through dialogue, culture and education. In 2014, I was nominated for the Asian Woman of Achievement – Entrepreneur Award. I live in London with my husband.
What inspires you?
Turnaround stories! Whether it’s about individuals or businesses. As humans we are naturally wired to be cautious than take risks, to believe fears to be more real than aspirations and to hear the naysayers louder than the yea-sayers. I am most inspired by people who take action despite the doubts and challenge adversity head-on to define their own destinies. Thanks to my work at MetaValue, I have had the opportunity to work with and witness the grit and courage of so many ordinary ‘heroes’ who refuse to let circumstances rule their world. This I believe is especially true for people working in public services today. With increasing demands for services and an unparalleled scale of financial challenges faced by local authorities, it is so inspiring to see individuals passionate about services for their communities, stand up to make things happen despite it all. It is the most rewarding part of my job to be part of their journeys.
What’s your message to AWMB community?
My mentor Mr Daisaku Ikeda once said, “The differences between people need not act as barriers that wound, harm and drive us apart. Rather, these very differences among cultures and civilizations should be valued as manifestations of the richness of our shared creativity.”
My success as an entrepreneur wouldn’t have been possible without Suzie, my business partner. We couldn’t be more different as people – be it our cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds, our professional backgrounds or our personal preferences and priorities in life. Suzie is a passionate ballet dancer and I have never gone beyond the bhangra moves every Punjabi is born with. Well, you get the drift!
Being ‘different’ from one another is what we treasure the most in our partnership and consider our biggest strength. It pains me to see the hurtful, divisive messages we hear so often these days – whether it is simply through glorifying one culture or worse through debasing another. My message therefore to the AWMB community is that we collectively have the opportunity to shape a positive cultural narrative that builds on commonalities rather than differences – one that is based on our shared respect for each human being irrespective of how they look, what they believe in and where they come from.
Tell us something that would surprise us about you?
I have an identical twin sister. Over the years, we have managed to confuse and play pranks with everyone from our teachers at school, colleagues at work, relatives, friends, our husbands, my niece & nephew (my twins’ little 4 year old twins) and even our mum and dad. Growing up (when the world was a more relaxed place) we even had a common pool of pictures to use for school ID cards etc. The only person we’ve never been able to succeed in fooling is our older sister who somehow always knows who’s who. Among all other things, this is on my list of feats-to-achieve!
P.S: I promise that picture above is mine!
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