[TC-I Call to Action]: MBAs Without Borders opportunity with water purification project

MBAs Without Borders is looking for a Business Development Associate for a 6 month position in Ahmedabad, India.  The project is with the Environmental Planning Group Limited (EPGL).

The Environment Planning Group Limited (EPGL) is a socially minded for-profit company incorporated in Ahmadabad, India. EPGL’s vision is to manufacture, install and operate 3,000 Reverse Osmosis (RO) water purification systems in rural and urban India over the next five years to provide pure, low salt, soft, micro-organism-free, safe drinking water to over five million people at an average consumer price of US $0.004 per liter or US $0.25 per person per month.

The position focuses on financial reporting and analysis.  Applications are due by April 15, 2009, so be sure to review the details here and apply directly from the MBAs Without Borders website.

TED India Conference: “The Future Beckons”

The inspirational, energy-filled, and fun TED conference is heading to India this year.  From November 4-7, 2009, TEDIndia will take place in Mysore and bring together speakers and delegates that are reinventing India.  The huge success of TED makes its arrival in India even more exciting.  At TC-I, we covered a few TED talks here, here, and here.

A little background on the TED conference:

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader to include science, business, the arts and the global issues facing our world. The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes). Attendees have called it “the ultimate brain spa” and “a four-day journey into the future.” The diverse audience — CEOs, scientists, creatives, and philanthropists — is almost as extraordinary as the speakers, who have included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Nandan Nilekani, Jane Goodall, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck and Bono.

The India conference will answer questions like:

  • Which local innovations are destined for global impact?
  • Who are the young thinkers and doers capable of shaping the future?
  • Can there be economic advancement without environmental destruction?
  • Can a pluralistic democracy survive in the face of rising fundamentalism?
  • Can we make money and be good? Really?
  • What should we learn – or fear? — from China’s investment in Africa?
  • Do we have enough water for everyone?
  • How do we keep our youth challenged and our aged healthy?
  • How can anti-poverty solutions be brought to scale?
  • Is there wisdom to be found in traditional medicine?
  • Which other ancient traditions can illuminate modern life?

This will be an event that any social innovator in India will want to attend – register to apply here.

[TC-I Call to Action]: Yale Global Social Entrepreneurship Course

[Via Ajaita Shah]: Yale is working to identify social entrepreneurs working in the public, private and NGO sectors in India and invites them to participate in a Fall 2009 program on Global Social Entrepreneurship at Yale.

A core goal of the program is to link teams of Yale students with mission-driven social entrepreneurs in India over a four-month long course designed to bring the students and social entrepreneurs together to develop a business plan which addresses a specific management challenge the social enterprise is facing.  Key attributes for the course commencing in the Fall of 2009 are:

–         Five teams of 4 to 6 students each will be dedicated to working with a different social enterprise on a project vital to its continued organizational development;

–         The selected social entrepreneurs will visit the Yale campus for an intensive week of faculty and student interaction specific to their challenge;

–         Student team members will visit India to get a more practical view of the challenge and to meet with (or present recommendations to) each social enterprise’s management, staff and trustees;

–         A two-day conference will be held in India at which students, faculty, Yale alumni, each social enterprise’s representatives, and invited guests will hear and discuss the plans and explore issues of broader import to social entrepreneurs.

They are actively seeking, and accepting applications from, social enterprises in India interested in collaborating with them in next Fall’s course.  A one-page description of the program and an application form (due no later than April 10, 2009) are here and here.

[TC-I Call to Action]: Ennovent looking to fill Investment Manager position

Here is an opportunity for an experienced finance professional.

Job Profile

Title

Investment Manager

Job Objective

To develop and manage the investment portfolio of ennovent in India and Asia

Start Date

As soon as possible

Location

India – frequent travel in India and Asia

Reporting Relationship

Position reports to Managing Director

More information can be found here and general information on Ennovent can be found here.

[TC-I Call to Action]: Total Immersion Programme in Finance and Development Summer Internships

The Centre for Development Finance (CDF) announces some very exciting internship opportunities for this summer.  If you’re looking for something more long term, word has it that CDF will likely be releasing postings for BoP related full time positions in the coming weeks… check back for more information!

Total Immersion Programme in Finance and Development (TIP/FD) – Summer 2009

CDF invites internship applications for the Summer 2009 IFMR “Total Immersion Program in Finance and Development (TIP/FD).”

Description of the program follows and application requirements follow below and in this CDF TIP document, and to apply please use the following link.

The TIP F/D provides undergraduate and graduate students interested in microfinance, development finance, and economic development an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in working on issues relating to access to financial services for urban and rural poor in a developing country. Interns will participate in a structured, two-week course directed by leading researchers, IFMR Centre Research Associates, and practitioners from the Indian government, microfinance institutions (MFIs), and NGOs. The course will be followed by eight weeks of work on a CDF projects which will consist of either field-based research, policy/sector wide studies or data analysis.  Past interns have completed stand-alone projects or worked to initiate, implement, and scale-up existing projects or pilots at the Centre.

The list of summer internship projects can be found online here and in this CDF Project Descriptions document. Interns may also be placed on another of CDF’s ongoing projects.

Internships are unpaid, although CDF will assist with housing and food or provide a small stipend of up to Rs 10,000/month toward living expenses. All interns are encouraged to obtain funding to cover international travel and personal expenses during the internship period.

This year, the TIP/FD will take place between June 8 and August 14, 2009. Applications will be accepted until April 15, 2009, although we encourage interested applicants to apply as soon as possible to ensure the best matching of interests and skills.

Positions of Particular Interest to the TCI Readership: Continue reading

Another failed development policy in the works?

A few headlines regarding the World Bank recently caught my eye, mostly because they are not the usual development headlines I am used to reading.  In the Business Standard‘s “Migration to urban areas is good, says World Bank,” and domain-b.com‘s “India’s rural job schemes are barriers to development: World Bank news,” the focus is on a new World Bank report that encourages a population shift from villages to cities.  More than that, the World Development Report 2009: Reshaping Economic Geography says that current schemes to improve rural life are contrary to development, as pointed out by domain-b.com:

The central government’s National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREGA) scheme and other poverty alleviation schemes act as policy barriers to economic development and perpetual alleviation of poverty, according to the World Bank.

In short, the report encourages the process of rural-urban migration.   This approach seems to be the  opposite of the upswing of efforts to address rural poverty and improve rural life so that the majority of India’s population has the same economic opportunity as in urban areas.  Instead of focus on rural schemes, the report advocates improving infrastructure in cities to boost economic activity.   Here is a quick look at the reasoning, as quoted by the Business Standard article:

“The world’s most geographically disadvantaged people know all too well that growth does not come to every place at once,” said Indermit S Gill, director of the World Development Report (WDR) and chief economist, Europe and Central Asia. “Markets favour some places over others. To fight this concentration is tantamount to fighting prosperity,” Gill added.

What does it mean for India when an international force such as the Bank supports a shift from rural to urban areas?  Will improving basic infrastructure in urban centers really address the pressure of large increases in city population?  While I’m not against migration as a whole, I remain skeptical about putting emphasis on encouraging rural to urban migration and discouraging rural schemes for poverty alleviation.  This debate also points back to an earlier post I wrote on urbanization.  Is this another development report gone bad?

Google India’s Tool for Community Messages and Public Information

Google India didn’t just settle with their Internet bus; Google India Labs has now released the Google Noticeboard.   Through a public digital noticeboard, the tool may just bring social interaction up to a whole other level:

Communities with access to shared computers can use the Noticeboard for exchanging messages related to community announcements, social interactions, local buying and selling, and information that is of wider interest to the community. The Noticeboard may also be used for the community to engage in a dialog with benefactors, public servants, and other service providers who are geographically distant.

As the website notes, literacy is not a pre-requiste for using the noticeboards, which makes the application more accessible.  Instead of writing in a message, community members simply hit record.  Will the voice message feature of the noticeboard add significant value?  In places where social capital is already very strong, does a community need a source to connect their messages and pass information?  It will be interesting to see what spins off from this and how different organizations, communities, movements, schools, or groups will use the tool.

[TC-I Call to Action]: Schools for Entrepreneurs Grant Competition

Via NGO Post, a competition held by Teach A Man To Fish called Schools for Entrepreneurs aims “to find the best school-based income-generating initiatives in India, projects which are both educational and financially sustainable.”

From student-run cybercafés funding classroom improvements, to schoolyard chicken-runs laying aside profits to pay for books, the competition aims to encourage education initiatives to come up with ways to boost their financial resources at the same time as teaching practical and business skills to their students.

Winners will receive the funding and consultancy support needed to help turn their ideas into reality.

The deadline to apply is April 1, 2009.

[TC-I Call to Action]: Programme Head, Centre for Micro Finance

Lakshmi Krishnan of the Centre for Micro Finance, IFMR writes to us about a new opening in the organization.   This is particularly exciting for anyone interested in microfinance, research, and traveling throughout India.  Several classmates in graduate school had worked with IFMR and came away with good experiences after participating in breakthrough research.

IFMR CMF is now hiring a Programme Head in Chennai to manage a portfolio of 4-6 projects with a variety of partners. Read about the IFMR CMF Programme Head position for further information and contact information.

Evaluating social returns on microfinance

Whether you are an individual investor, an institutional fund, or a microfinance organization, the issue of returns on social investment is always a concern.  The difference is usually in the approach that each stakeholder may take in measuring these returns.  The Grameen Foundation made a major stride in the effort to create an evaluation framework by releasing guidelines to evaluate social returns to investments.

As of 2006, socially-focused investors in the U.S. had channeled more than $663 million into microfinance. Most of these investors choose microfinance because they expect financial as well as social returns related to reducing poverty. Until recently, however, there were few tools to help them track how well their investments were achieving their goal of improving the lives of microfinance clients and how those “returns” compared to industry-wide performance benchmarks.

When I read about a new set of guidelines, I imagined some complex framework, or a laundry list of things to look for.  Instead, the guidelines are quite short and simple.  Maybe even the measurement of social returns follows Occam’s razor!

The guidelines are just a first step – some of the questions may need a little more teasing out.  For example,  a question listed for institutional investors to ask: How effective are the MFIs at alleviating poverty?  Investors may want a more elaborated approach in terms of what “effective” means.  At the same time, the strength of these guidelines is that they are flexible and realize that social investments, even in a field like microfinance, can vary.  Along with GF’s previous initiative, the Progress out of Poverty Index, which tracks microfinance institutions’ track records with poverty alleviation, the evaluation guidelines are a welcome development in the world of performance indices.

[TC-I Call to Action]: Atlas Corps Fellowship

It’s that time of year again – Atlas Corps is seeking fellows for their 2009-2010 fellowship.  This is a great opportunity for nonprofit/NGO leaders from around the world (including India!) to learn from, experience, and exchange ideas with organizations in Washington, DC or Bogota, Colombia.

Atlas Service Corps seeks nonprofit leaders from around the world to apply for their 2009-2010 fellowship positions in Washington, DC and Bogota, Colombia. All expenses are paid in this prestigious, fellowship program, including a living stipend, health insurance, visa, travel, training, and a $2,500 end of service award. Applicants must have 3 or more years of experience in the nonprofit sector, a college degree, fluency in English (and Spanish if applying to volunteer in Colombia), and a commitment to returning to their home country after one year. Candidates from outside the U.S. are placed at outstanding host organizations in Washington, DC including Ashoka, Asian American LEAD, CentroNía, Grameen Foundation, and Population Action International. Candidates from the U.S. are placed at organizations in Bogota like Give to Colombia and Oxfam GB. In addition to volunteering full time at their host organizations, Fellows are enrolled in a management development training program and join a growing network of nonprofit leaders from around the world. For more details about eligibility requirements and the application process, please visit: www.atlascorps.org/apply.html and watch a short video about the application process here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mx63RKbqoKYThe deadline to apply is April 1, 2009.

South Asia Workshop on Social Entrepreneurship

TC-I reader Suresh Parmar tipped us about a workshop focusing on social entrepreneurship on April 16-17 in New Delhi.  Held by the Centre for Training and Research in Responsible Business and Social Entrepreneurship (New Delhi), in partnership with the Centre for Social Initiative and Management (Hyderabad), the workshop will focus on a range of issues.

The workshop is open to national and international participants. Since the 1970s, with the advent of Bill Drayton’s Ashoka, the ranks of social entrepreneurs are increasing steadily. In India we have, Aravind Eye Healthcare, Basix Bank, Ekal Vidyalaya,  Sri Grameen Mahila Udyog (Lijjat), Narayan Hrudayalaya, Sewa, Selco, Nidaan, etc

This workshop has been designed to explain the important breakthroughs in nonprofit development: social entrepreneurship. Participants learn what social entrepreneurship is, and how to develop and implement customized plans for social entrepreneurship, including for their own organizations.

Contents:

(a)     Concepts of Social Entrepreneurship Innovation
•       Social benefit/Impact/Accountability
•       Blending of social work and business (charity to commerce spectrum)
•       Sustainability of organization and triple bottomline.
•       Social Enterprises and market-based solutions for social problems
•       Collaboration with other organizations and sectors
•       Empowerment of beneficiaries/clientscustomers

(b)     Case studies

The case studies will  illustrate the concepts and application of business methods in social work. The case studies will also highlight how the social entrepreneurship is different from traditional business entrepreneurship and conventional social work approaches. Continue reading

[TC-I Call to Action]: Indicorps August 2009 Fellowship

As some of our readers may know, Prerna and I are both Indicorps alums.  My fellowship with Indicorps is too involved to explain in a short post, but the experience is definitely one of the contributing factors to my continued interest and involvement with development in India.  The on-the-ground experience is extremely valuable,  both in terms of understanding the issues at hand, and also for the resulting effects on personal growth.   I am excited that this opportunity is available for more people in the Indian Diaspora to make lasting change:

Indicorps eagerly announces over 30 competitive new projects for the August 2009 Indicorps Diaspora Fellowship.  Indicorps seeks a few dozen dedicated young Indian leaders who are willing to challenge themselves and “be the change.”  Tackle real issues in education, microfinance, social entrepreneurship, environmental conservation, public health, urban infrastructure, and much more.  Live simply and dig deep to learn about real India (and yourself); projects span from Kanpur to Pondicherry, Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh.  To learn more, visit http://apply.indicorps.org.

In the spirit of Obama’s campaign to create “Change you can believe in,” Indicorps is a real opportunity for CHANGE YOU MAKE HAPPEN.  The August 2009 Fellowship model will mobilize passionate, sincere fellows to become strong team players and leaders who will build sustainable new initiatives.

About Indicorps: Indicorps offers prestigious grassroots public service fellowship to implement sustainable development projects with community-based organizations across India.  As a total-immersion leadership program, Indicorps will encourage you to explore your role as a catalyst of change.  Fellowship projects promote both personal growth and collective action towards a secular India that is inclusive, peaceful, and participatory.  The program requires a minimum commitment of one year.

Applications are due 15 March 2009.

Ready to take on one of these interesting projects, from working with youth to social entrepreneurship to health issues? If you are eligible and interested, I cannot urge you enough to apply.

Ride on the Internet Bus

Using a mobile bus (such as the Nandini Mobile Van, which focuses on sanitation) is a popular method to do outreach to rural or underexposed areas.  Google India is launching their Internet Bus Project, an initiative that is essentially a mobile exhibition of the Internet.   The bus will provide an introductory look at the Internet and its services.   The project focuses on Tamil Nadu and aims to reach people that are not currently using the Internet.

The Internet Bus Project is an attempt educate people about what the Internet is, and how it may be beneficial to their lives, by taking the Internet experience to them through a customised Internet-enabled bus, which will travel to several towns and cities across India.

As the Google India blog states, there is potential in equalizing many playing fields through the Internet.  Additionally, this project highlights content in both English and Tamil, allowing larger segments of the population to participate and really understand the value of the web.  The video below is used as an introduction – complete with a song in Tamil.  Also be sure to take a look at the Internet Bus Project site, which has photos of the high-tech vehicle and tracks the route as the bus moves around the southern state.

HaraBara Builds Greener Pastures

In the effort to connect “green” business manufacturers and suppliers, Jagdish Amin and David Wheat launched HaraBara in October 2008.  Businessworld features the duo’s new business-to-business platform:

HaraBara’s primary objective is to unearth ‘golden nuggets’: companies that are doing great sustainable work, and getting them to talk about it.

While there are plans to create a worldwide forum, the focus right now is on India.  The HaraBara Connect India site offers a clear benefit for greening businesses in the country:

Thousands of Indian companies are dealing with environmental and green challenges. Share experience with other Connect members facing green concerns. Find out what works and what doesn’t work.  Access proprietary HaraBara databases, undertake joint projects, and establish new connections. Save time and money dealing with green issues.

The online platform allows a quick and easy way of making connections in the green indsustry, and as a result, could promote faster progress of environmental efforts.

Perhaps more interesting is the founders’ explanation to Businessworld of what prompted them to start HaraBara, when a “client wanted to sell solar lanterns in rural India but wasn’t able to develop a local distribution network.”

“We realised that companies would find it useful to have a website that gave them access to customers and suppliers, and that helped them figure out local laws and regulations,” says Wheat.

I’m sure there are other industries which face a similar challenge when trying to start up operations in a new location.  For that reason, HaraBara is a great example of turning a roadblock into a far-reaching solution.