[TCI-Changemaker] CSIM: An NGO to groom social entrepreneurs

The ThinkChange India staff is committed to providing our readers with interviews with people we believe are at the brink of something special but have for the most part been overlooked by the mainstream media. Readers will be able to see other conversations under our TC-I Changemakers tab.

In this edition TCI-changemaker focuses on Prof. K.L Srivastava, chief Coordinator of Center for Social Initiative and Management (CSIM) Hyderabad. A charitable organization cum learning centre that first started in Chennai, it has quickly spread to Bengaluru and Hyderabad and Mumabai with an aim to groom professionals from various fields to be social entrepreneurs by providing affordable and non-intrusive training programs. Badhri explores the Hyderabad wing of this unique organization and the gentleman at its helm in this conversation.

Badhri: Prof. Srivastava, Thanks for taking time off for this interview. Before we discuss about CSIM, can you please quickly outline your professional and educational background?

K.L. Srivastava: My pleasure. I grew up in a village in UP and completed my B Tech (Agricultural Engineering) degree from the GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in 1966, and M Tech (Agricultural Engineering) with specialization in Soil and Water Management from IIT Kharagpur in 1972. Some of the positions I have held before joining CSIM in 2006 are: Associate Professor at the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar; Senior Scientist, Natural Resource Management, ICRISAT, Hyderabad; Consultant, Indo-Dutch APWELL project on participatory irrigation and rural development; and Natural Resource Management Specialist in some NGOs in Hyderabad.

Badhri: How did you come to be part of CSIM?

Prof. Srivastava: I have always believed that we can achieve equitable and sustainable development in India in a free market economy by strengthening the citizen sector. Due to my interest in social entrepreneurship, Corporate Social Responsibility and management education in the social sector organizations, I acquired knowledge in these fields through self study and also by joining several discussion forums. While working with PRDIS (an NGO dealing with agriculture and rural development), I started working as a guest faculty at CSIM in 2005. Subsequently, I was invited to take over as the Chief Coordinator of CSIM in June 2006.

Badhri: Can you please brief about CSIM and its objectives?

Prof. Srivastava: To provide a background first, CSIM is a wing of Manava Seva Dharma Samvardhani (MSDS), a registered public charitable trust which was set up in Chennai in 1999. Presently, CSIM has its centres at Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

We find  that traditional social initiatives are often driven by a mindset of welfare and charity. Such initiatives can promote a feeling of dependency among poor and the benefits of these initiatives are often temporary. Recognizing this problem, CSIM offers educational and training programs in social entrepreneurship with emphasis on innovative, sustainable and effective approaches of social development. By this way, CSIM aims to equip budding social entrepreneurs (change agents) with knowledge and professional skills so that they can excel in their individual initiatives, build social consciousness and catalyze social change.

CSIM also promotes volunteering in NGOs and facilitates networking and cooperation among organizations. The partnership between NGOs and Corporate Organizations for social benefit is an area of special emphasis at CSIM.

Badhri: So, your intervention for social change is to train professionals to be successful social entrepreneurs. Interesting! What kind of courses do you offer?

Prof. Srivastava: CSIM Hyderabad offers mainly two courses. One is Certificate course in NGO Management and Social Entrepreneurship [also called Social Entrepreneurship Outlook Program] that lasts for 4 months, and the PG Diploma in Social Initiative and Management which lasts for one year.

The classes for both the courses are conducted during the weekends to encourage participation among professionals. The PG Diploma course is offered jointly by CSIM and Loyola Academy, one of whose elective course is offered in ICFAI School of Public Policy.

Occasionally, it also conducts short-term professional development courses primarily for NGO staff.

Badhri: For how long have these courses been offered now?

Prof. Srivastava: The Certificate Course in NGO Management and Social Entrepreneurship (or SEOP) started in 2003 and the 12th batch is running now. The PG Diploma course started in 2006 and the third batch.

Badhri: Can you please shed light on the faculty and their experience?

Prof. Srivastava: We depend mostly on guest faculty who are drawn from NGOs, academic institutions and business organizations in and around Hyderabad with substantial experience in the field on which the course is offered. For example, our recent instructors on project management and social enterprise included a veteran project manager in Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP), the honorary director of CIVA, and the creator of eSafal, a social enterprise based on application of IT in rural development. This brings in a variety of field experience right to the students while keeping the cost for conducting the course low.

Badhri: That is impressive. I think that should make this course very attractive to those who can’t afford mainstream business schools. What similarities or differences does CSIM have when compared with regular business schools or institutes?

Prof. Srivastava: CSIM is a part of an NGO network. So, our courses naturally have more of NGO perspective in their content. Unlike B-schools, CSIM tries to emphasize more grass-root level experiences local to the area we are located in. For example, CSIM Hyderabad is the nodal organization of CHILDLINE service for Hyderabad. We also work closely with NGOs like BHUMI and Ashray Akruti to fine tune their programs. These collaborative projects provide good perspective about the disadvantaged sections of the society and the scope for intervention.

Another important difference that provides a comparative advantage over B-schools is that our course fees are modest mainly because of our operating model. We are also sensitive to the fact that most of our students have full-time jobs and set our course agenda in a non-intrusive manner.

During a field visit to Rasoolpura slum worked on by the NGO BhumiDuring a field visit to Rasoolpura slum worked on by the NGO Bhumi

Badhri: Now that you have touched upon the modus operandi, can you please provide further insight?

Prof. Srivastava: The pedagogy for our courses includes didactic as well as experiential learning approaches.Classroom sessions very much encourage discussions, peer-to-peer interaction and classroom exercises. Apart from that, we also organize visits to NGOs, ‘meet the practitioners’ session and video sessions to facilitate learning from the field. Further we offer discussions on case studies and project work to provide some hands-on experience. Another big source of learning and mentorship is CSIM’s strong alumni network.

Badhri: That seems to be quite a variety. But staying with the alumni, how has your course helped those who have graduated from CSIM?

Prof. Srivastava: The learning evaluation studies conducted by independent evaluators have shown that most of CSIM alumni have benefited significantly from our courses. CSIM alumni are actively serving the society in disability, education, health, livelihoods and other sectors. Some notable examples are: Mr. D.P.K.Babu (Ashray Akruti), Mr. Alexander (SERVH), Ms. Rubina Mazhar (Safa) and Mr. Sridhar Mupidi (EFF).

The experience shows that most of the participants crystallize their ideas, formulate plans for their engagement with the social sector and identify a support network during the course. They maintain regular contacts with CSIM after completion of their courses, interact with faculty members and resource persons from the CSIM network.

Note from Badhri: I am a student in this institute and I personally feel that it is a very good place to be for aspiring social entrepreneurs willing to work within the borders of India, looking for a filip to their entrepreneural accumen, and with less money to pay for it. The center is also a good place to find a lot of like-minded people (current students and alumni) for partnership or mentorship, not only in alumni but also with the visiting instructors. Hopefully this interview provides enough insight for budding social entrepreneurs to consider signing up for one of its courses.

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20 Responses

  1. Hi…Badri..!

    You’ve done a good job

  2. A concise and yet very informative piece on CSIM and the courses.
    Kudos to Badhri for asking all the right questions so as to give the reader a good insight and of course my respect and admiration for Prof Srivastava for facilitatng this enablement for potential enablers of social change 🙂

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  4. Hi Badri,

    Good interview, Badri.\!

    As a former colleague of Prof. Srivastava, I am impressed with the work of CSIM. Also to learn about Alex of SERVH who is a very old friend.

    Joseph Plakkoottam
    Executive Director
    Development Management Network

  5. Dear Badri

    Congrats. The interview is very interesting and enlighting. I could know more about Dr.Srivatsava and his mission. I pray the almighty to give him mental , physical and financial stength to achieve the desired results.

    Wish him good luck.

    Thanks and Regards

    K.V.RAO

  6. Hello Bhadri & Prof. Srivastava

    Its great to study to an interview with Prof. Srivastava i personally feel that who have interest in social change and want to know where they fit.. i seriously recommend CSIM

    being an Alumni of CSIM you can consider my word. its first step to know yourself & our society

    Surya Chaitnaya

  7. Good to see Mr K L ‘s interview . CSIM does a lot more than what has been talked over her. Have benefitted a lot from the course provoided . Most of the ideas for SAFA crystallized in the sessions I was undergoing at CSIM! The best part is their continual assistance program -evn though its just extended informally right now but is definitely worth mentioning and probably can be extended as one of their services . Just a small suggestion from my side. Stuctured program,rendered by experts and lots of practical motivation …Good luck to CSIM .

  8. Hello Badri,

    I am really impressed by the insights you provided. Its motivating and as a student of CSIM I have been fortunate to meet people of excellence.
    Prof Srivastava is the real inspiration and always been their like a god father.
    Hope more such inputs come CSIM which are harbingers for overall development of social perspective.

    Thanks for making us all reorient to our mission with great zeal.

    My best wishes to you and CSIM for the great job especially Prof Sir.

  9. You guys are running a great blog here. I wonder why I have never stumbled upon your blog before 🙂

    Keep up the good work.

    Thanks a lot for the information you provide here.

  10. Hello,
    My nephew and I have started a nonprofit mission in Vadaperumbakkam, Chennai to bring ambulatory surgical services and clinical medical help to the village of Vadaperumbakkam. The project has been stymied for lackof funds. We have running only the clinic. There is a great need for surgical intervention and we are trying to raise funds to equip the theatre to make it functioning. My nephew is a pediatric surgeon and is dedicated to the cause. Any direction or funding would be most welcome.
    Parviz

  11. Hi Badhri and other friends,

    On behalf of CSIM, let me thank TCI and you for this feature and your kind reference to the institute and to me personally.

    Although many people now recognise the potential role of social entrepreneurship practice in creation of a just and humane society and inclusive development in India, there is very little support for educational and training programs in this important field in our country. Presently, there is dearth of teachers and there are very few research studies in this field. This is in contrast to what is happening in many western countries where SE field is growing fast. I think that more needs to be done in academic field of SE in India.

    In this background, I wish to acknowledge the vision and guidance of Mr. P.N.Devarajan who founded CSIM and the valuable support provided by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. (DRL) to CSIM in Hyderabad.

    Let me thank everyone who has contributed to the success of CSIM so far and hope that, in future, more people will join hands with us for the cause of grooming social entrepreneurs and social work professionals. I also hope that SE knowledge generation for Indian conditions will also get due attention in future.

    We at CSIM look forward to welcoming more learners in our institution and satisfying their learning needs adequately.

    Thanks and regards,

    K.L.Srivastava

  12. hi badri i’m rahseed one year diploma course student.its nice inreview

  13. hi badri i’m rahseed one year diploma course student.its nice inreview and hope more interview

  14. hello Sir,
    I am intrested in studying PG Diploma in Social intitiative and Management. can you give me details about Admission

  15. Hello Aparna,

    Our current batch of PG Diploma Course is already in progress. The next batch will start in August 2009.

    The next batch of the certificate course will start in February 2009.

    However, please meet me in our office in Punjagutta, Hyderabad or call me at 23417745. We will try to see how you can benefit from our courses.

    Thanks,

    KL

  16. helo

  17. it was great to see you nterested in featuring soc ial entrepreneurship and the pillars behind it CSIM has taught me to look into myself at what i have got and to discover the meaning of giving back to society in my small way.Prof. Srivastava at CSIM is a beacon for lost entrepreneurs .congrats sir and thanks for being so encouraging .

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