Indian voluntary organisation Pratham has launched a UK-registered charity to target the largely untapped British Asian community.
PrathamUK was awarded charitable status in September and kicked off its fundraising with a ball at London's Grosvenor House Hotel earlier this month. The event was sponsored by leading Indian and UK Asian business people and raised £165,000.
Pratham supports literacy programmes in India and aims to eradicate illiteracy in India in primary education by 2010. PrathamUK is inspired by PrathamUSA which, since its launch in 1998, has raised nearly $2m (£1.2m).
"We are aiming to raise £1m in the UK over the next year," said a spokeswoman, adding that the ball will become an annual event and run alongside other fundraising initiatives.
She said that British Asians were giving more to charity now and that many, particularly those of Indian descent, wanted to "give back something to India". The charity will be targeting both Hindu and Muslim communities in the UK.
PrathamUK's fundraising campaign follows relief charity Islamic Aid's warning that charities in the UK were failing to tap into the generosity of the British Muslim community (Third Sector, 1 October).
Dr Madhav Chavan, founder of PrathamUK, said: "There is tremendous potential for raising funds through UK-based corporates, foundations, NGOs, community events and from individuals, especially those from the British-Asian community."
Supporters of the fundraising ball included British-Asian steel firm the LNM Group, India's ICICI Bank and the country's largest company Reliance Industries. Other supporters included HSBC and CSFB.
Pratham - which means 'first' in Sanskrit - launched in India in 1994 as a coalition between community leaders, corporate leaders, academics and politicians. It runs 29 literacy centres in 10 Indian states and works with 375,000 children.