LeadYoung – Jeroo Billimoria starting young

The persistent work of our founder Jeroo Billimoria for children’s rights and inclusion is inspirational. In particular, Jeroo’s early interest in social entrepreneurship is an important reminder of how we should invest in our youth. We are proud to see her life work featured on the Ashoka: Innovators of the Public #LeadYoung website.

Jeroo, a social worker from Mumbai who successfully conquered the global scene of social entrepreneurship is reaching millions of children and young people on a daily basis. According to the Ashoka #LeadYoung article, Jeroo’s early start made all the difference. As the daughter of a social worker, she was encouraged to develop her social consciousness from an early age. At age 11, she organised that all domestic workers in her apartment block get bank accounts. At age 16, she engaged in making sure children and young people stayed in education by advocating the concept of making core subjects more relevant, working with Ashoka fellow Gloria de Souza. Her early interest in financial inclusion and education would develop into large scale social enterprises; Child and Youth Finance International and Aflatoun. However, one of Jeroo’s first large scale projects was in the area of child helplines. Check out her story in this video by Ashoka:

A global movement that started with a simple idea

Known for building huge, global coalitions like Childline India Foundation and ChildFinance, #Ashoka Fellow Jeroo Billimoria started her changemaking journey as a teenager in Mumbai. Read more: http://bit.ly/jbillimoria. What is the #LeadYoung story you would like to tell this International #YouthDay?

Posted by Ashoka on Thursday, 11 August 2016



Jeroo was working as an instructor in social work at Tata Institute of Social Sciences. When she was visiting her graduate students who were on placement in the shelters of Mumbai, she became aware of the lack of support systems for children and young people living on the streets. She started to hand out her phone number so that children and young people could call her in case of an emergency. It was not long until she was receiving phone calls on a daily and nightly basis. It was clear that these children were in urgent need of a structured support system. This was the start of Childline India.

Jeroo’s early interest in social enterprise is an important reminder of how we should invest in our youth

The idea was simple; street children could call a free number which was answered by trained young people or adults who themselves lived or had lived on the streets. Yet, this simple idea had profound consequences. Giving these children a system to be heard meant that their daily struggles became visible. Support and services had to be provided in places and times  where it was needed. Building on this success, Jeroo moved on and took it global. In 2003 she founded Child Helpline International. The idea was simple: to give children a voice and a visibility all around the world. This is the heritage we are building on today.

Want to know more about Jeroo and the background of Child Helpline International? Check out her profile and our story. Also check out how we invest in our #youth here.