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February 2012

The Power of an Idea

2012 - The Road Ahead

Fellow Connect Dear Ashoka Fellows,

your chosen sector. Collectively, we get a larger picture of where India is heading.

There comes, in the life of a social entrepreneur, a stage when the question begins to overpower her having proven the effectiveness of my idea in a limited geography, how do I create a larger social impact? To paraphrase this question, we have begun to use the word “scaling”, that is popular among the business entrepreneurs. We have had several Ashoka Fellows discuss this question with us for their organisations. The key is to define scaling for the social sector. Once we have clarity on the definition and have mapped it to our core vision, answers to this question will emerge. There's no denying that this is a complex question that has several other sub-questions embedded in it. For instance, should scaling be related to geography, or can it have a correlation to social issues of a specific geography? In the last edition of FellowConnect, we touched upon scaling in the space of rural development. We, however, realize that this topic needs to be discussed at a generic level. Based on the feedback of Ashoka Fellows, we bring to you a series of articles that attempts to help you find the right answers. This edition of FellowConnect will feature the first part of the series, which will be available for you on our Web site at . We are aware that there is no one right answer to this question. Better answers emerge when we have more number of Ashoka Fellows pool in their experiences and viewpoints. We look forward to receiving your comments to the various points discussed in this special series on scaling. As we were putting together the fifth edition of FellowConnect for you, we could not resist from finding out how you thought 2012 would unfold for various sectors. Your comments are indeed a reflection of the deep insight and rich experiences of

As a social entrepreneur, the one life companion that an Ashoka Fellow is promised of is Adversity. As Ashoka Fellows continue to increase their sphere of influence, there are always instances when they find themselves facing adversities. And like craftsmen, Fellows have constantly been improving their efficiency in addressing adversities in their venture. However, when it comes to security issues – be it personal, organizational or societal – Fellows, and for that matter all social entrepreneurs, experience a long and bitter battle. Fellow security is of utmost importance to all of us in the Fellow community and at Ashoka. We are aware that security issues do not come knocking at our doors in one form. They take different shapes and sizes. It's time we come together as a singular entity to find solutions and establish several checks and balances that will help the targeted Fellow seek assistance. A few questions come to my mind that require our collective attention. What are the communication channels that need to be in place so that Fellows in need can reach out to the community in the shortest possible time? What kind of network needs to be built, that connects the Fellows in need to the right agency? Who are the people outside of the Fellow fraternity who should be part of this network? Ashoka Fellows have always come together as a strong community to be available for each other when the need arose. Our entrepreneurial abilities will once again bring us together to find answers to these questions so that we are all prepared for any adversities, that knock on our doors. We look forward to hearing your innovative ideas to collectively face this issue successfully.

Warmest regards, Manoj Chandran

This Edition Pluralism 3. From Conversion To Transformation

Perspectives 8. 2012 - The Road Ahead

Ashoka Fellows 14. Fellow Impact 15. Welcome New Fellows

Environment 4. Nothing Green About Green Economy Social Enterprise 6. The Changing Face Of North East India

Social Entrepreneurship 11. Changemaking – A Route Map To Scale

Ashoka Global 16. Africa: Of Optimism And Social Entrepreneurship

Health 13. Solutions For Micro Insurance

Cover Image: Girls at work in a chikan embroidery course at Alankaar training centre at the Drishtee divisional office - Maal, UP . A stitch (that goes back) in time- the art of chikankari boasts of a variety of different stitches like fanda,murri, bakhiya, ghas patti. Drishtee is run by Ashoka Fellow Satyan Mishra. Photo Courtesy : Vaydehi



From Conversion To Transformation Andreas D'Souza India is diverse in all aspects of life: ethnicity, culture, religion, race, customs and manners, and above all languages. Even though this is something that must make us proud, yet, this very diversity has become cause for our greatest sadness and shame. I have had the misfortune of witnessing the drastic effects of using diversity for political reasons in December 1990. In this short article, I discuss my personal experience of witnessing the horrible effects of riots and efforts to rebuild the divided community for peace. Bloody pogrom The pogrom started on the night of December 6 and lasted till the end of the month. More than 600 people were killed, houses looted and burned, temples and mosques were desecrated. Inspite of a 24-hour curfew, the killings went unabated. I remember one morning when, along with members of Aman Shanti Forum, an inter-faith group we had formed just a month before, I was at the emergency ward of Osmania General Hospital. We were requested by the hospital superintendant to assist, since many of the staff were absent due to curfew in the Old City. Three young men carried an elderly man on their shoulders. His stomach was cut and his intestines were spilling out, flowing blood marking the passage as they carried the body to the surgical room. Upon examination, the doctor in charge found the man already dead. The three young men left the body and were exiting the door. At the door was my colleague, a professor at the neighbouring women's college. One could see her sindur (red powder worn by Hindu married women). The youngest of the three lunged at her screaming, “I will kill them.” There was a panic in the ward, the police guards who were outside rushed in and tried to calm the young fellow but it seemed this wiry young man was stronger than six jawans. Stories behind violence That incident in the hospital and many other horrible scenes in the Old City of Hyderabad during that riot made me reflect on the savagery of pogroms and ways to end them. I soon realized that violence of this nature has buried stories behind it. Unless we hear these stories and understand their undertones, we will not be able to put an end to the repeating violence. My mind went back to the hospital scene.The young man, a Muslim, lunged at a Hindu woman, screaming, “I'll kill them.” He was not actually attacking her but her whole community. Every fresh riot renews the wounds and deepens the hatred. Unless we attempt to heal these wounds and remove the hatred, peace will not come.

Intellectual dialogue or talks about reconciliation cannot bring wounded and divided people together. So how can we help develop an atmosphere of trust among all people in spite of creedal, racial, sectarian and other differences? Can we live together by not only tolerating the differences but also by using the differences to build bridges of understanding and peaceful coexistence? Healing takes time It is by doing that we learn. One of my first attempts was to find ways of bringing people of both communities together. The members of the Aman Shanti Forum offered to start development projects in the affected areas. That attempt failed totally. I had to wait six years before I could start community development work in the riot prone area.We started a centre for women in a rented living room in the basti. Both Hindu and Muslim women came to learn tailoring. We started a school for little children, also from both communities.Very soon, young men too joined the centre: technical and computer training brought Hindu and Muslim youth together. People had found a common platform to co-mingle, to share, and to learn. Thus, such transformed relationships percolated into homes. There was a gradual transformation within the community. My involvement with the post riot community in the Old City of Hyderabad taught me many lessons regarding building inter-faith relationships among people. In the beginning I was quite naïve. I 'preached' to the victims of rioting that they should forgive the wrong and attempt at reconciliation. I remember an old couple coming to me with their wrinkled hands raised, "Whom do we forgive? “Our only son, the hope of our old age, is taken away." On that fatal night in December, he heard shouts and cries and came out of his house. He was shot dead! In the immediate aftermath of a bloody pogrom, no reconciliation can take place, ruined trust cannot be restored, physical wounds, and psychological wounds cannot be healed. In the case of the Old City, such psychological wounds can be traced back to a few decades. Not conversion but transformation The above experience for me, personally, was a great learning. I learned that conversation and dialogue does not succeed in transforming peoples' lives. When people meet, irrespective of their religious or other differences, and work together for a common purpose, the relationship that results transforms attitudes. For this to happen four things are essential: respect, trust, commitment, and responsibility. These form the very foundation of any relationship, whether it is between husband and wife, parents and children, or friends or business associates. To promote social transformation, people of all faiths need to agree to meet and accept one another and work together for common good in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. Such an endeavour towards transformation must be undertaken with a commitment to each other, with mutual responsibility and >Contd. P5



Nothing Green About Green Economy

Sudhirendar Sharma With Gangotri and Haridwar as its spiritual and religious abodes, the small state of Uttaranchal is at a strategic advantage ever since it was culled out of the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh in the year 2000. That 64 per cent of its total landmass is forested adds to its ecological significance. Haven't text books prescribed 66 per cent forest area as the ecological benchmark for any landscape to be perfectly in sync with nature? Indeed, that has been the case, but what is 'strategic' about it, if at all? According to S.P. Singh, a bio-scientist and former vicechancellor of the Kumaon University, the total value of ecosystem services, including food production and raw materials, that accrue from these forests is worth US$ 2.4 billion each year. Should these services be paid to the State with immediate effect and distributed equally among its inhabitants, most migrants would return en masse to their homeland! Whether or not migrants return home, the state economy will surely receive a significant boost should such remittances ever reach it. For a State that has been managing within an annual budget of an estimated US$ 200 million, payment for ecosystem services from its forests alone will boost its economy manifold. Its annual revenue collection, pitched at 25 per cent of its current GDP, will seem minuscule against such transactions. The ecosystem services that these forests generate on a per hectare per year basis are in the following order: nutrient recycling is worth $429, followed by climate regulation and raw material valued at $167 and $164 respectively. Erosion control and waste treatment follow with a price tag averaging $100 each. Other services like recreation, food production, soil formation, genetic resources, and water regulation add up another $163 only.

But the million-dollar question is whether or not the State will ever get billions accruing as services out of its natural capital? Since most of the benefits are indirect, like climate regulation and nutrient recycling, the tangible worth of ecosystem services amount to no more than 25 per cent of the estimated $ 2.4 billion. According to a Green India States Trust report, the ecosystem value from a hectare of forested area is in the vicinity of just US$ 125 or about Rs 6,255 only. Despite the net worth of tangible ecosystem services being insignificant, most services get consumed locally and, hence, may not elicit any payments. Even in Switzerland where the value of its 80 per cent forested area has been adequately assessed towards protection against avalanches and landslides, the forest owners get only between US$ 25 and 35 million per year for managing some 1.24 million hectares worth of forests, averaging $ 30 per hectare. The present assessment of ecosystem services is largely based on a controversial review paper published in the renowned journal 'Nature' in May 2007 by Robert Costanza from the University of Maryland and his 12 co-authors who were clear in their global assessment of ecosystem services (pegged at US$ 33 trillion) that should an attempt be made to realize this astronomical figure, one would need to increase 'gross national product' much higher than the assessed value. Though such valuations have remained contested, the worth of ecosystem services was never in doubt although these have been economically quantified only recently.The mute question is: does valuing ecosystem services lead to effective nature conservation, or does it attract additional investment for maintaining the 4

Environment services? Either way, there is little doubt that mountain environments need to be preserved for millions of up and downstream beneficiaries, now and in the future. Even the Indian Government's gesture of transferring US$ 200 million over a five-year period to its mountain states for maintaining a forest cover is being counted as a 'green economy' initiative.While such contributions must increase over the coming years, it is quite unlikely that such remittances would at anytime kickstart a new economy in the mountain regions. Unless it is clear where this money has indeed been invested, it would be preposterous to jump to any conclusions. Valuing 'natural capital' is fraught with dangerous uncertainties, something that its proponents have conveniently tried to overlook.The flow of water from the mountains is counted as an important ecosystem service; warranting the lower riparian to compensate its upstream counterpart for maintaining the flow in the rivers. Far from being able to make any payments of this kind, Bangladesh may well seek payments for draining rivers through its territory. And, why not? Putting a price tag on natural services can open a Pandora's Box of conflicting situations. Once nature and its services are commodified, their likelihood of trade-off in a capitalist market cannot be ruled out. CAMPA is a compensatory afforestation scheme in India that allows forest bureaucracy to justify diversion of protected/forested areas for mining and tourism activities on the pretext that it offers better returns from the same patch of land.

failed to adequately quantify, for this to be accepted as a policy the world would need to invent a new pricing system for natural products! Unless this is done, green economy should be treated as a work-in-progress.

It would indeed be tough to withhold speculations and suspicions emerging on account of ecosystem valuation of natural services. The value of forests as 'carbon sinks' is equally dangerous as it allows financing companies, in connivance with the government, to legitimize the enclosure of forests from all use by people based on often unauthenticated carbon storage figures. Can green economy be built at the cost of the livelihoods of the poor?

Despite somewhat ambiguous nature of 'green economy' the world is likely to be painted green with optimism in the run up to the Rio+20 Conference this year in Rio de Janeiro. For the west it offers an opportunity to divert attention from the core issue of curtailing its carbon-guzzling lifestyles. But should the developing world fall prey to the over-hyped but unsubstantiated gains from green economy projections is a billion-dollar question that 'must' first be asked!

Several researchers have contested overt generalization of ecosystem services, arguing that these assessments are trapped within the framework of 'capitalist economics'. Though it can help in capturing the 'value' of ecosystem services that the markets have

( This article appeared first in, an online information portal for the development sector. Sudhirendar Sharma, Ashoka Fellow, is the founder ofThe Ecological Foundation.)

From Conversion To Transformation (contd.) without surrendering our religious convictions. They do not meet in a superficial manner. They meet in order to communicate to one another their respective religious views, convictions, fears, and doubts. In the spirit of openness, the sharing that takes place strengthens rather than weakens their partnership and helps in transforming attitudes from within.

One of the immediate consequences of building genuine inter-faith relations is a breakdown of prejudices.The divide-and-rule policy adopted by political parties has disseminated false information about one or the other religious community, resulting in deep prejudices. Coming together also leads to knowledge of us as reflected in our partner. Our interaction reflects our personal good qualities but also our weaknesses which often lay hidden. Mutual understanding is the result of prolonged relationships. Not conversion but mutual transformation results from sharing, in a spirit of sincerity and disinterested love, the treasures of one's own faith while being open to be enriched by the religious values found in others. (Andreas D'souza is an Ashoka Fellow and the founder of Henry Martin Institute, Hyderabad. )


Social Enterprise

The Changing Face Of North East India India's North East has long been neglected in terms of both economic and social development. Hasina Kharbhih, Ashoka Fellow and founder of Impulse Social Enterprise, and Sanjana Janardhanan write about the challenges and opportunities for enterprise in the North East.

For decades, the North East has been a black-hole for business and enterprise. The sustained conflict, geographical isolation, militarisation and migration have led to a drying up of investments, and the lack of economic and social development in the region.This is despite the richness of natural resources in the region, presenting a huge opportunity for investment, and the growth of enterprise.

from ethnic violence for decades. Such sustained violence has led to a lack of opportunity for people to exercise their entrepreneurial spirit.

The North East is situated in a geographically vulnerable zone. Almost 98% of the North Eastern borders are international ones – connected to Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. A major risk associated with this unique geo-political location is that of cross-border human trafficking. Adding to the vulnerability are factors of unemployment, gender-based violence, armed conflicts and oppressive social structures.

The verdant mountains of the North East conceal not only the odd militant, but also a rich culture of art and handicrafts passed on from generation to generation. The seven states stand out individually, both in terms of geographical distance, but also in cultural diversity. In addition, the markets in each State differ considerably - from consumption patterns to the kinds of goods and services produced by that region. Seasonal variations and demand fluctuations also determine the activities that people are engaged with. Depending on these factors, people work in areas of art and crafts, agriculture or tourism.

Additionally, the region is suffering from abject poverty. Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, and Tripura have been suffering

Energising the ecosystem With the increasing intensity of the emergency in the North 6

Social Enterprise East, there is a deep need to devise long-term, sustainable solutions for the region. A large part of the emergency arises from economic need, and hence the solution lies in economic (and social) development of the region. However, for economic development to take place, several key players need to step up and take initiative in the region. The government will have to facilitate an ecosystem where business practices can occur smoothly and without hassle. Despite several attempts by the Government and Planning Commission to enhance local development, the current strategy has led to a distribution-oriented, politically-led economic process and not the efficiency-led process envisioned. This has resulted in natural resources and savings moving away from the region to other high productivity regions.The dependence on the Central Government for both funds and employment has led to a passive attitude towards development in the States. The onus should be shifted to the local government agencies for a sense of responsibility and ownership over economic activities to develop. “ The emergence of an ecosystem that facilitates economic growth will compel talent to remain in the region and reduce instances of human trafficking.”

Also, business and social entrepreneurs should take the lead in building enterprise which involves the local community. For the self-sustained growth of a region, there needs to be a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem which is able to take business strategies, contextualise them for local needs, and create systems of demand and supply for the area. There also needs to be the existence of a market – where entrepreneurs can target their goods and services and consumers can find the things that they need. By focusing on economic factors (but not ignoring political and cultural factors) like labour cost, comparative advantages, technology, and efficiency, such a market can be developed within the North East. While the hidden talents stored in the North East have recently been highlighted through a range of platforms, set up mostly by civil society actors, the market in the North East does come with its challenges. With cheap Chinese imports having flooded the market, as well as a lack of demand for local products, local artisans are slowly losing ground. For example, a local woman would buy a shawl from an artisan only once – this will last her for a whole lifetime. There is no steady need for local handicrafts in this region. Thus, these products, emerging from a tradition of arts and crafts, have less value within the region, as compared to the

rest of the country and for that matter, the world. To allow local entrepreneurs to reach such emerging markets, there needs to be a significant thrust towards the development of a relationship between the rest of the country and people from this region. Such a long-term relationship will not only lead to the creation of a dependable marketplace for local artisans and entrepreneurs but will also help in creating employment opportunities among the masses. Efforts are ongoing The emergence of such an ecosystem will achieve several things – not only will it compel migrating populations to contribute their skills to the development of the region but also reduce instances of human trafficking in the region.This is not a phenomenon of the future; several efforts are already prepping the region for full scale development. The Impulse Social Enterprise is just one of them. Founded by Hasina Kharbhih, it is a social business venture comprised of a variety of brands, products, and services that uplift communities and advance the mission for equitable human rights. Its socially focused business practices develop rural livelihoods and the capacities of their partners, and strive to fulfil the social and economic market needs of communities and stakeholders. The work of Pranjal Baruah and Rakhee Choudhary are other examples of the same. Pranjal's Mushroom Development Foundation works closely with mushroom farmers in Assam, putting them in control of their produce through his land-tolab strategies, training and support, thereby creating 'mushroom entrepreneurs.' Not only is he creating livelihood opportunities for thousands of unemployed youth and landless farmers in Assam, he is also developing a whole new market for mushroom consumption. Similarly, Rakhee works closely with Assamese women, revitalising the weaving industry in the region. With weaving being the second largest economic activity in Assam, she organises women weavers into cooperatives, connecting them directly to the market. She builds entrepreneurial skills in these women, and encourages them to deliver quality products to the market. The weaver entrepreneurs she has trained then train others, thus creating groups of entrepreneurs across the region, advancing an industry that has great cultural significance for the people of the North East. These are only a few examples of several such marketoriented initiatives in the region. The current need is to evaluate these models and see how they can be made relevant for all of the North East. By bringing all the stakeholders together and evolving a comprehensive road map for development, the North East can become the new hub for social enterprise in the country. 7

2011 was an eventful year for the country.We witnessed mass movements, political upheaval and a major cricket victory. Gone unremarked has also been the rise of entrepreneurs in the country – an increasing number of young people from non-metropolitan and middle-class backgrounds are giving entrepreneurship a chance.The big question in all our minds is: how is this going to change in 2012? With this in mind, we approached several Ashoka Fellows and asked them to talk to us about the road ahead in their sectors for 2012. These are their answers.

GOVERNANCE Corruption gets on the agenda This year will hopefully see a lot of legislative activity in Parliament that will have medium to longterm impact on corruption. The obvious Bill that comes to mind is the Lok Pal. In addition, the government has introduced a number of other Bills that will all be important as well. The Whistle blower Protection Bill,The Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and officials of public International Public Organisations, Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, Prevention of Money Laundering Bill,The Electronic Service Delivery Bill,The Citizens' Grievance Redress Bill are some examples of such legislation. (Please see for full listing, summaries and analysis.) The second Administrative Reforms Commission and several other eminent groups in the country have suggested important legislative reforms in three broad areas: Public Services, Police Reforms and most importantly, Electoral Reforms. Unless there is a concerted effort in these three core areas, the gains from the other efforts will be less than optimal.


The experience of the Lok Pal Bill has taught us that engaged citizens can make an impact on the pace of reforms, and the content of legislation. What we will need to understand increasingly is that there is no single 'Big Idea' that will be the silver bullet for preventing corruption. But sustained efforts from all stakeholders will be required this year and the next few years to see a visible change in corruption levels in the country. The silver-lining in all of this is that it will become increasingly difficult over the next few years for people to use political power to enrich themselves personally. C.V.Madhukar is the founder of PRS Legislature.

HUMAN RIGHTS An action movement for big change Human rights, in India, can be seen broadly on two levels – economic rights and civil rights. Under both heads, we face several large challenges in this country. Increased hunger, privatisation of education, closure of public hospitals and labour rights are economic rights which are of major concerns not just for this year but, indeed, for the next twenty years. Under our civil liberties, there are increasing accounts of torture, fake encounters, and denial of prisoner's rights. It is towards these areas that work ought to be targeted. The overarching issue, however, is the cooption of NGOs in this period of globalisation. Leading NGOs are working closely with the government, resulting in a failure to criticise it when it is needed. In addition, the intense compartmentalisation of civil society organisations has lead to the voices of civil society softening. Our battles are no longer pitched at fundamental change and we remain well funded NGOs.

Colin Gonsalves

As founders of citizen sector organisations, I believe that we should get out of the NGO way of thinking and articulation.We need to introspect on whether we have truly created change, because we have not done that which has changed the core. >Contd. P10



YOUTH Youth leadership – Taking the country by storm While I was reflecting on the idea of the need to inspire thousands of young people, working together, deeply committed to changing India for our children, four of Teach for America alumni came in through Akanksha. I was struck by their mission, by their deep commitment to end inequity. I was struck by their passion, by their competence, by their common language and conviction that inequity in education had to end. The idea behind Teach for India was to build a movement of such young and passionate leaders, who as alumni would eliminate inequity in education. At Teach for India, we're constantly asked why we recruit young people for our Fellowship program. With 72% of India's population below the age of 40, and 47% under the age of 20, we believe in the immense responsibility this generation has towards maximizing 100% of the human potential of India.The power of the Teach for India movement does not only lie in the two years of the Fellowship program but also in the alumni who will use this experience as a stepping stone to >Contd. P10 make systemic changes at a macro level. >Contd. P10

Shaheen Mistry

EDUCATION Building 'head teachers' into 'school leaders'

Aditya Natraj

An intrinsically motivated and skilled Head teacher could convert a dull rural school into an exciting professional environment. She could organize a fun and professional learning environment for all staff of the school through interestingly organized academic discussions at staff meetings, develop teacher capacities through cross observation of classes, and peer feedback on teaching style and lesson plans, and manage the personal development plans of teachers in line with an overall school development plan. Instead, the head teacher is reduced to an administrator – for data to be sent to “superiors”, for staff allocation to classes, for mid-day meals and construction works, and of course, the all important census, polio and other village surveys. >Contd. P10

INVESTMENTS Social angels will grow the sector Over the last few years, with the growth of microfinance institutions, there has been a movement from donor driven grants to a more venture capital type funding in social enterprise.The same model will continue, but I would like to draw out the main difference between most microfinance institutions and social enterprise.While microfinance looks at a single product and innovation, largely within the scope of financial intervention, social enterprise deals with innovations that cut across sectors and strategies. The challenge which emerges from this is that of standardisation. Unlike microfinance, where investors could safely put their money on proven models, this rarely occurs in the case of social enterprise.Thus, the money coming in to support the growth of business models in social enterprise remains minuscule, restricted to government and donor-driven grants. >Contd. P10

Paul Basil



An action movement for big change (contd.) The cutting edge of this will appear when different groups come together to work on different issues. I'm not talking about a loose collaboration, but a melding of social movements towards creating an uprising against injustice.What I'm talking about here is a resurgence of the social movement, an 'India Spring'. Because, how long can we go on doing fact finding missions, information gathering, surveys and public hearings? The time has come for something extraordinary. The time has come for an 'action movement,' comprised of people who understand that rights cannot be compromised with. The 'Anna Movement' was the first part of this. The question I'm asking is: Can we take it to the logical conclusion? Colin Gonsalves is the founder of Human Rights Law Network.

Youth leadership – Taking the country by storm (contd.) Between 2011 and 2030, India will add 241 million people to the population. Can you imagine the state if excellent education remains accessible to only a privileged few? Can you imagine the impact of educational inequity when India will probably have the largest youth population in the world? The solution to this puzzle is NOW. It is now that India needs involvement of its young potential leaders who hold the key to change, to reform this country. I view the existence of such a large youth capital as India's greatest opportunity and strongly feel that if utilised wisely, India will be governed by visionary changemakers who will hold the key to a bright future. Shaheen Mistry is the founder of Teach for India and Akanksha.

Social angels will grow the sector (contd.) The Venture Fund model has been very well tested, and for that matter, does work! In the interim, we need a capital structure which is not geared towards getting social businesses to scale but towards a level of profitability. Once this has been achieved, venture funding can take over. Who are the people who will make this happen? Donors providing grant money should not be wary of working with for-profit social business. If the money is given to early stage entrepreneurs, they can use it to perfect their models. The Government can also play a very important role. The announcement of a National Innovation Policy comes as a very welcome step. However, this should not become Venture Funding but be targeted towards model making. Social Investment is closely linked to mentorship. However, there is a distinct lack of social entrepreneurs who have actually scaled to that level. Hence, there is a need for social angels in the sector who would act as 'donors' for earlystage entrepreneurs and 'commercial-architects' in terms of guiding and mentoring them. How we move forward will depend on how we position the challenge. If we start seeing social enterprise as a vertical, a lot of these challenges get converted to opportunities. And the social enterprise ecosystem is fast emerging. It is up to us, those working in the sector, to strengthen it.

Building 'head teachers' into 'school leaders’ (contd.) Currently the senior-most teacher in a school is automatically (and often reluctantly) “promoted” to the head teacher role without checking for motivation or leadership skills. If, instead, we selected the intrinsically motivated teacher and promoted her to be the head teacher after a systematic leadership training programme to help her manage staff motivations and professional development, we would suddenly have hundreds of thousands of mini-'teacher training centres' in every school in the country! Intrinsic motivation can be created through helping discover “meaning” in one's role,“pride” in one's co-workers and the joy of expanding oneself through continuous “learning” and “fun” in daily interactions with children. Sadly, each of these have been gradually corroded over time and it is thus hardly surprising that head teachers and teachers work like it is a dull boring job rather than being one of the most exciting “nation building” activity that they are blessed to have. Can we launch a series of programmes across the country that systematically re-create meaning, pride, learning, and fun? Aditya Natraj is the founder of Kaivalya Education Society.

Paul Basil is the founder of Villgro. 10

Social Entrepreneurship

Changemaking – A Route Map To Scale Across the country, social entrepreneurs are innovating and addressing a range of issues in new ways. Many have reached a particular point in their trajectories where they've achieved some of what they have set out to do. It is at this point, when several of them are considering future steps, that questions of scale become important. The question of scale is often a vast and tricky one with various factors to be considered before a roadmap can be developed. At the root of the challenge is to understand what scale even means. Through this series of articles, Solomon Prakash, country representative of Ashoka India and Parvathi Menon, founder of Innovation Alchemy, deconstruct the term 'scale' and uncover the paradigm for social enterprises in the coming years. In this article, Solomon and Parvathi sit down to talk about the relevance of scale for a social entrepreneur and what it means in today's world. Solomon - In this time in history, there is plenty of data indicating that civil society organisations around the world are coming out with very useful solutions – products and services that challenge the most compelling problems on the earth. These solutions are working but they remain unavailable for a large part of the world.And the question which often comes up is: Why is my solution not reaching everyone I want it to go to? Looking at it from an entrepreneur's perspective, this question is usually asked by someone who has been working on a challenge for around five-six years; someone who has moved away from the start-up phase, who really understands his offering to the world.The question is then really not about scale at all, but of whether the entrepreneur has something useful to offer to the world and whether it has relevance to the goal.

“Scaling will look at how we can get changemakers to adapt, redefine and innovate.”

Parvathi – I think there are several ways one could look at scale. For me, scale is today an ecosystem challenge. It is imperative that we start finding solutions that are solving some of larger issues. We continue to need to find solutions for education for example, something we've been talking about for the last eleven five year-plans and it is not really getting solved. There are other similar huge problems in the world today that need a breakthrough.

“ I believe the reasons why solutions don't scale is a lack of entrepreneurial energy on the ground.” Social entrepreneurs have been instrumental in finding such breakthrough solutions – but in most cases the models remain too small, solving the issues at micro-levels, while the bigger problem remains unsolved. If we don't solve education, health doesn't get solved, if we don't address health, economy suffers, if the economy's a domino effect. I think, therefore, scale is imperative. It's not just the social entrepreneur's imperative to scale – it is the ecosystem's requirement to not accept something which doesn't have some amount of scalability in its design. If it doesn't have it, then it's the ecosystem's imperative to put that in. Solomon - You are saying something that is hugely important here. If we look at ecosystems, the assumption is that there may be solutions which not just social entrepreneurs, but anyone can use. However, I will still go back to the importance and the need for social entrepreneurs because I believe the reasons why solutions don't scale is the a lack of entrepreneurial energy on the ground. We also find that solutions have already shifted – they never remain static. Let us look at what needs to be done in the case of cataract operations.There might be strategies, or even doctors who can do this. But we lack enough people orchestrating the ecosystem for social entrepreneurs to come and take it on, or take it further. No matter what the solution is, you always need someone on the ground to make it relevant, changing it to what is really required. Parvathi – I agree. Connecting the entrepreneur to the ecosystem, for any kind of real scale to happen then, it is very necessary to have entrepreneurial energy at the bottom. This will increase our capacity to find the right insights to the problem, find innovative solutions that will work, make it sustainable and direct entrepreneurial energy towards implementing it.Thus, for that particular solution to be adopted at a large scale, it is necessary for the entrepreneur to keep innovating. It is also important to have a few other people who will work with the entrepreneur to then take it forward. Solomon – In my own experience with the government or any other law agencies, beyond a certain point initiatives always fail not because the solution is not good, but because there are not enough changemakers on the ground who are able to take it forward. So how are you going to get more changemakers who


Social Entrepreneurship “Scale becomes about the number of ideas solving a problem from different directions.” will adapt, redefine, innovate and take a particular solution further? It is here that ecosystems become tremendously important. Ecosystems should provide access to funding, support and common infrastructure. This is what will help entrepreneurs succeed. Hence, ecosystems for me are also about creating new laws and regulations, creating a policy which eases a social entrepreneur's entry and work in the space. We are waiting for a standard model that will help us achieve this. If you ask me, franchisee model has to come the end of its days. No matter how well a franchisee operates, over time the quality inevitably deteriorates. You always find that programs that are driven by the people who created it and own it with their heart and soul, are the ones which are successful. Parvathi – There are two points which I see here. The term scale may not mean one entrepreneur covering the whole of the country with their model. Instead, it is about increasing the number of entrepreneurs who are finding solutions to a particular problem – bringing more and more ideas to the table. We are also saying that scale does not necessarily mean franchising a model but finding a way for people to locally adapt models, customise, make it their own and take it to the next level. So, if I have an idea in Karnataka but don't know how to take it to Bihar, I could just pass it on to another entrepreneur there who would adopt, adapt, reinvent it in the local context. The definition of scale is then not about 'organisational scaling'.

It is also not about one idea scaling across the country. Scale becomes then about the number of ideas solving a problem from different directions. Solomon – So then, for social entrepreneurs, it becomes crucial to ask themselves whether their idea is really solving the problem at all. A lot of people ask me how this should be done and I always reply by saying: look at what the fundamental purpose and goal is. How well is it defined? This then takes you away from the confines of that immediate opportunity and gives that much more purpose, using the energy that only a true vision can provide. This particular ability is very inspiring and drives you to use skills and techniques that were never considered as part of your repertoire. It enables collaboration with people you never thought you would work with. In fact, for me, that is the way forward. I will go as far as to say that there is no way to scale without collaborating and building visionaligned changemakers on the ground. Through this discussion, Solomon and Parvathi have brought out a couple of key ideas on changemaking as a route to scale.There is a strong need for entrepreneurs and changemakers to solve big issues through their vision and insight.Thus, to really bring about impact, the methods of collaboration and alignment should be nurtured for the models to scale beyond the entrepreneur and be adopted across borders. This article is part of a larger series on scaling for social entrepreneurs, available on our website. Please visit to read more.

Welcome New Fellows Ramakrishna N.K is generating a new way of delivering credit services to the poorest individuals, by blending peer-to-peer lending with a strong back-end delivery system that controls interest rates. By carefully prequalifying citizen sector organizations (CSOs) and establishing robust back-end processes, he repurposes CSOs to act as branches and for the first time, deliver loans at interest rates as little as 8.5% p.a. For Ram, affordability of micro-credit is far more important for bringing people out of poverty than 'access.' To address this, he is employing various strategies that bring both credit and investors closer to the poor. Using the concept of peer-to-peer lending, he has introduced India's first technology platform which crowd-sources capital.The integrity of this process attracts larger capital and credible partners, who then control interest rates and deliver quality services. Partnering with existing rural CSOs, he has created access to micro-credit at flat 8.5% p.a for livelihood loans, compared to the average of 26% charged by MFIs in India. Additionally, he is creating a vibrant community of investors who are engaged with the vision of his organisation, Rang De.This has deepened their awareness about inequity and has driven them to self organise into city chapters, through which they share experiences, spread awareness and engage with borrowers.



Solutions For Micro Insurance

A self help group, facilitated by Ashoka Fellow Mukti Bosco's organisation Healing Fields, puts in money for Health Savings Photo Courtesy:

Irina Snissar Social Entrepreneurs significantly contribute to the development of healthcare sector.They collaborate with public healthcare systems to extend their reach to marginalized communities; they improve resource allocation; create models catering to the needs of the poor; and they work to address socio-economic implications of illnesses. Social Entrepreneurs are critical in ensuring that healthcare, as it is defined in the Alma-Ata declaration, is affordable, accessible and acceptable for all. The Ashoka Fellowship in India brings together those people who are playing a transformative role in the country's healthcare for the past 3 decades. In the coming year, Ashoka will be working with Fellows to identify opportunities in healthcare and facilitate collaborative initiatives by Fellows in India. Some of the common challenges faced by Fellows irrespective of the nature of their work, include malnutrition, lack of prevention and access to information, scarce human resources, poor quality of delivery and poor insurance coverage.Towards the latter, Ashoka held a round table on micro insurance with Fellows from across the board. Fellows who attended were: Dr. Sudarshan, Prema Gopalan, Ashwin Naik and Dr.Vijay Singh who represented Dr. Devi Shetty. The private sector is becoming more and more engaged in

addressing gaps in public healthcare delivery. It already accounts for 60% of outpatient and 40% of inpatient care. At the moment it is still significantly skewed towards catering to urban India. However, enterprises like Arvind Eye Care or Vaatsalya are successfully proving that there is a market in rural India for health care and there are models that work for this market.The government has already attempted to include Below Poverty Line families into this process through several initiatives providing highly subsidized insurance to the poor. While presently over 750 million of the Indian population are not covered by health insurance, there is a clear possibility for growth. Unfortunately, even subsidised insurance may not effectively mitigate economic shocks due to health issues among the poor. Insurance only covers in-patient care which becomes problematic as most of the expenditures are in out-patient care.To reduce the burden of healthcare expenses on the poor, health insurance coverage should be extended to outpatient care. This can be delivered through a network of general practitioners, clinics and hospitals across the country. Additionally, the insurance products should be a complete package covering diagnostics, drugs and consultation, thereby, covering all the causes for out-patient care. >Contd. P15


Ashoka Fellows

Fellow Impact Paromita Goswami awarded best Maharashtrian award

North East excellence award for Hasina Kharbhih

Paromita Goswami, Ashoka Fellow, was among eight illustrious awardees of the Lokmat Maharashtrian of the Year Awards, 2011. Paromita was recognised for her work with Shramik Elgar under the Social and Public Service category.

Hasina Kharbhih, founder of Impulse, has been awarded the North East Excellence Award for Achievement, by the Indian Chamber of Commerce. The award recognises her outstanding service in the field of social welfare, human rights, trafficking, HIV AIDS intervention and livelihood support initiatives for rural areas in the North East.

From a final shortlist of 39 nominees, the top honours were awarded to the eight awardees after a rigorous process which involved senior editors and the editorial board of Lokmat and IBN Lokmat as well as an independent jury of eminent people. This jury boasted of well-respected Maharashtrians including Dr. Achyut Godbole,Ashutosh Gowarikar, Dhanraj Pillay, Julio Ribeiro, Ms. Medha Patkar, Rajdeep Sardesai and Ms. Shobha De. Hearty congratulations to you, Paromita, from everyone on the Ashoka team.

Hasina has been credited with the development of the Meghalaya Model to prevent trafficking, a comprehensive model which has been implemented across the eight states in the country. She is now working toward revitalising traditional economy in the North East through social enterprise. Ashoka India congratulates Hasina for her achievements in the North East.

Mobile innovation award for Hilmi Quraishi Hilmi Quraishi's innovation Connect-2-MFI has been awarded the Special Jury Award in Mobile for Women in Innovation Awards, instituted by the Vodafone Foundation. Connect-2-MFI is a mobile based Universal Platform to connect Microfinance Institutions with their clients for providing both financial and non-financial services. Created in partnership with Concern International, it connects over 500,000 women to their microfinance institutions. We congratulate Hilmi and his team at ZMQ.

Shanti Raghavan receives Global Amazing Indian award from Times Now Shanti Raghavan, Ashoka Fellow and founder of organisation Enable India, received the Global Amazing Indian Award from Times Now. She was recognised for her work in helping people with disabilities integrate with the mainstream. Receiving her award from Pranab Mukherjee, Shanti was joined by twelve other awardees, selected from the 55 short-listed. Congratulations, Shanthi, from Ashoka India. 14

Ashoka Fellows

Welcome New Fellows For Santosh Choubey, the IT and mobile revolution will connect the whole of India in the next ten years. As of today, most of the benefits of this revolution reach only urban populations, leaving their rural counterparts far behind.To bridge this educational and digital divide, Santosh has been adapting these tools to local contexts and spreading them to create equal opportunities for rural India. He achieves this by creating a network of entrepreneurship-driven centres that deliver quality science and IT education to rural citizenry. Emphasising on the importance of compassion, he sees the choice of services and the manner in which they are delivered as crucial in building this into the network.With over 8500 centres across 27 states and 3 union territories, Santhosh's organisation AISECT has worked with close to 1 million students and has generated over 10000 entrepreneurs in the country.

Dr Prasanta Tripathi, a trained medical doctor, believes strongly that matters of life and death are in the hands of communities as often as healthcare professionals.The deaths of new born children in villages are a huge problem but what perturbed Prasanta was the helplessness and the unquestioning acceptance of child mortality by mothers in villages.With this in mind, Prasanta's first step towards realising health for all was to transform the outlook of communities from being fatalistic to being critical and pro-active. Towards this, Prasanta is increasing the ability of mothers and communities to identify health problems and respond to them effectively. Through activities aimed at increasing their health consciousness and critical-thinking abilities, Prasanta has been enabling women to identify and prioritise maternal and infant health problems. More importantly, Prasanta has enabled communities to collectively determine and implement strategies to address these issues.The results have been visible – in the 200 villages across Jharkhand and Orissa, where Ekjut has worked, there has been a 45% reduction in new-born mortality and a 20% reduction in maternal mortality. Ekjut has now replicated this empowering approach in more than 1000 villages.

Jessica Mayberry is building a pan-Indian network of professionally trained citizen videocorrespondents drawn from some of the poorest and marginalised communities in the country. For Jessica, marginalised communities are not only recipients of information but also are active creators of content. Local people, who have been the subjects of discrimination are uniquely placed to be better correspondents, since they have the first-hand perspective to local issues. By equipping them with tools of empathy and skills of articulation, Jessica pushes them to go beyond their own stories and become voices of their communities. Through partnerships with mainstream media and development agencies, she is actively distributing the videos so that they may reach wider audiences.Thus, through her organisation,Video Volunteers, she is building the architecture to not only capture these stories but also to ensure that the voices of the poor are being heard across the country.

Solutions For Micro Insurance (contd.) Significant challenges faced by both government and private players involve a lack of infrastructure and service providers, and little-tono transparency, standards and regulations. On one hand, private hospitals capitalize on medical emergencies by recommending unnecessary tests and extending period of care. On the other, insurance providers suspect fraudulent claims and lack transparency in processing claims. Separately, on account of inefficiencies and corruption, Government subsidies often do not reach private clinics and insurance companies in a timely manner. Hospitals are economically incentivised to increase the bill of the patients, and the patients are not empowered to monitor the process. It would be in the interest of the insurance providers, the hospitals and the patients to have a more transparent and accountable system. Such a system can be achieved by creation of the centralized Third Party Administrator (TPA). The TPA will strengthen procedures for empanelment of the hospitals, devise transparent cost structures and create systems to reduce the possibility of fraud. Going forward the Fellows and Ashoka will explore each of these ideas as potential initiatives.We will be reaching out to more Fellows and other actors to explore this in more detail. At the same time we will be holding series of consultations to identify opportunities seen by the Fellows.We would encourage the Fellows who are interested in leading or contributing to such initiatives to reach out to Ashoka India. (Ira Snissar is aVenture Associate at Ashoka India) 15

Fellow Connect February 2012  

Fellow Connect February 2012

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