Register NOW for the Harvard International Development Conference

This year, I’m helping to run the Harvard International Development Conference (IDC) at the Harvard Kennedy School.  It promises to be an exciting event, with panel topics ranging from the role of mobile technology as a means of alleviating poverty to private sector-led, entrepreuneurial models for development.  If you intend on attending the conference, please do let me know – I would love to meet members of our readership in person!

More information follows below:

The 15th Annual Harvard International Development Conference
April 3 – 4, 2009   |   Harvard Kennedy School

Register Now!  www.HARVARD-IDC.com

We would like to introduce you to the 15th Annual Harvard International Development Conference (IDC) at the Harvard Kennedy School.  In light of an increasingly challenging global context, this year’s theme, “IMPACT: Turning Global Challenges into Opportunities,” delves into the need for the reconceptualization of existing development paradigms, as well as the importance of cross-sector, entrepreneurial partnerships.

We are especially pleased to present our keynote speakers for this year’s conference:

Mr. John Wood, Founder, Room to Read; Author, ‘Leaving Microsoft to Change the World’
Dr. Kyung-Wha Kang, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights
Dr. Howard Zucker, Former Assistant Director General, World Health Organization

The core programmatic elements of the IDC are our 13 Panels and 4 Workshops under 4 Topics, each consisting of four to five leading development experts from a multitude of sectors: government, private sector, academia and international organizations.  This year’s topics include:

A.    International Trade & Finance
B.    Science & Technology for Development
C.    Human Rights & Human Security
D.    Private Sector & Entrepreneurial Solutions for Development

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.

Sa-Dhan to Host Microfinance Conference in New Delhi

Sa-Dhan, an association of community development finance institutions in India will host a National Microfinance Conference in New Delhi on March 31, 2009. The conference is centered on the theme, ‘Microfinance Ecosystem: Equilibrium Between Growth & Effectiveness’.

One of the goals for this event is for Sa-Dhan member organization to come together with academicians, practioners and policy makers to strategize on ways to overcome issues plaguing microfinance in India, such as “commercialization of microfinance institutions (MFIs), governance, risk management, provision of holistic microfinance services (like savings, microinsurance, livelihood, etc), resource mobilization and credit crunch and cost of services”.

The conference is set to bring the policy makers, mainstream financial institutions, donors, financiers, practitioners, academicians, researchers, parliamentarians and international participants in one platform. Amongst others, the conference would specially focus on Effective Microfinance, Linkages, Opportunities, Gap in Governance, Ethics/Values, Code of Conduct etc.

Some of the speakers at the conference include Prof. Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank and Ms. Ela Bhatt of SEWA Bank. More information on the conference can be found here, and the registration form is available here.

Three (yes, 3!) Exciting Upcoming Conferences!

Looking for interesting conferences to attend over the course of the next two months? Well, look no further! Below are three upcoming conferences that we recommend you attend – The Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Conference (March 1, 2009), The Harvard Business School India Business Conference (March 15, 2009), and the Harvard Kennedy School International Development Conference (April 3-4, 2009). ThinkChange India will be live blogging at all three conferences, so if you are unable to attend, we will be sure to update you with key highlights from the three respective conferences!

Some brief information about each of the conferences follows below:

HBS Social Enterprise Conference – March 1, 2009

The Social Enterprise Conference provides a forum for exploring the synergies between for-profit, non-profit, and public sector approaches to addressing critical social issues. This goal lies at the heart of the Harvard Business School mission “to educate leaders who make a difference in the world” and the Kennedy School of Government mission “to prepare leaders for service to democratic societies.” The Conference is entirely run by students from these two schools.

Exciting speakers include Priya Haji, CEO of World of Good, Inc., Linda Rottenberg, CEO of Endeavour, and Bill Drayton, CEO of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Expect to also see panelists from organizations such as the Clinton Foundation, Agora Partnerships, the Acumen Fund, One Laptop Per Child, IDEO, Skoll Foundation, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, TechnoServe, ACCION International, and many more! Click here if you would like to see the agenda in its entirety.

HBS India Business Conference – March 15, 2009

The HBS India Conference is one of the largest student-run conferences in the US and has a strong legacy of creating a platform to allow business men and women, policymakers, and those involved in academia to meaningfully debate and discuss how India can fulfill her global potential.

This year’s conference will feature presentations by prominent keynote speakers as well as twelve panel discussions / debates on the following areas: Building Brands in India, Energy, Entrepreneurship, Global Indians, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Knowledge Economy, Media and Entertainment, Private Equity, Retail, Social Enterprise and Venture Capital. In addition, the Conference will provide an opportunity for the attendees to network and interact closely with prominent members of the Indian business community and to learn about their industries and companies as well as gain insights on potential career opportunities.

HKS International Development Conference – April 3-4th, 2009 (website is yet to be updated)

15th Annual International Development Conference at Harvard University, which will be held at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts from April 3rd to 4th, 2009. The International Development Conference is a student-run event providing a world-class inter-disciplinary forum on global sustainable development. Each year the Conference attracts over 400 participants and serves as a forum to foster dialogue among various stakeholders, including senior level policy makers, academics, and practitioners.

StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation – Boston 09

TCI had mentioned the StartingBloc fellowship earlier, and this past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Greater Boston institute at MIT Sloan and Tufts Fletcher School.  To provide some background on StartingBloc, the organization holds three institutes in Boston, New York and London, whose goal is to bring together a cadre of 150 young leaders with a passion for social innovation. The institute’s focus is on providing training and networking opportunities. The mission and vision of StartingBloc according to their website is:

Our Mission
StartingBloc educates, empowers and connects emerging leaders to drive positive social change across sectors.

Our Vision
As StartingBloc fellows ascend to positions of influence, they will use the StartingBloc network to launch organizations, guide policies and effect cross-sector partnerships that address social, economic and environmental issues around the world.

The 2009 Boston institute was held over four days and featured speakers, workshops and networking sessions.  One of the highlights of the institute was a talk by Tom Szaky of Terracyle who has built a multi-million dollar enterprise that upcycles garbage.   Upcycling refers to the process of re-using waste material such as juice pouches or plastic bottles to create new products likes bags, purses and spray bottles.  Terracyle is an excellent example of how you can do well while doing good for the environment.
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India’s First Social Enterprise and Investment Forum: Sankalp 2009

Shital had written in last November about Sankalp 2009, a business plan competiton for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) organized by India Development Gateway, in partnership with Rural Innovations Network (RIN) and National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

Turns out the business plan competition has now developed into India’s first ever Social Enterprise and Investment Forum, with additional support from the Rockefeller Foundation. Continue reading

First XLRI Conference on sustainable development

The Social Entrepreneurship Trust and Social Initiative Group for Managerial Assistance (Sigma) of XLRI, in association with Ashoka and Indianngos.com has planned its first XLRI Social Entrepreneurship Conference. The conference is scheduled to be at XLRI Jamshedpur on January 31st and February 1st 2009.

The theme of the conference would be “providing access for sustainable development” while its purpose is to showcase innovative social entrepreneurship ventures by individual entrepreneurs, NGOs, corporate executives and government agencies.[source The Telegraph]

Upcoming Conference: “Microfinance from Below,” Tufts Fletcher

This upcoming March 26th – 28th, 2009, the Tufts Fletcher School will be holding a conference entitled, “Microfinance from Below: The Power of Savings and Savings Groups in Frontier Economies.” Registration is free. More details follow below:

The Center for Emerging Market Enterprises (CEME) at The Fletcher School, Tufts University—with support from Oxfam America and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—will host a conference in March 2009 that explores the dual nature of savings groups. As a subject of debate within the microfinance sector, groups constitute both a target of and shield against exploitation, a market for and competitor to commercial alternatives, and a means of both communal unity and division. The “Microfinance from Below: The Power of Savings and Savings Groups in Frontier Economies” conference will examine the potential and limits of financial self-service, the social nature of savings groups, and the best ways for institutions to form, strengthen, and serve them—and then let them go.

Intl. Conf. on Social Entrepreneurship in India – Day 2

Day 2

The second day started off by getting down to business immediately. Madhav Chavan of Pratham was the first speaker and his mandate was to enlighten the gathering on “How to scale up an organization?”. It really was a treat listening to him. During the course of his talk, he touched upon many other topics related to Social Entrepreneurship. Pratham, as Mr Chavan confessed, was a “monstrous” organization now, and there were special challenges that it faced in its functioning. He reminded us on how increase in scale led to decrease in quality and loss of efficiency. He also opined that scale is not necessarily something that every organization should aspire for. There are organizations that operate in niche sectors. The “one size fits all” policy cannot be applied when it comes to scaling up for social organizations because their scaling up depends on a number of factors that are unique to the organizations area and field of operations. Organizations need to mature by institutionalizing. However, this exercise should be followed without falling in the trap of bureaucracy.

Madhav Chavan photo credit Sonia Rai
Madhav Chavan photo credit Sonia Rai

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Intl. Conf. on Social Entrepreneurship in India – Day 1

I had the opportunity to attend the International Conference on Social Entrepreneurship in India on the 4th and 5th of December. In this post I will try to narrate my experience at the conference. In the posts following this one, I will talk about people and organizations I got in touch with, and most importantly discuss some issues that came up for discussion during the conference.

photo credit Sonia Rai

photo credit Sonia Rai

The theme of the event – Inspiring|Connecting|Sharing – set the right expectations for the attendees and, to be sure, lived up to it. The event was organized by UnLtd India and Center for Social Initiative and Management(CSIM).

The conference was spread over two days and events were well planned to facilitate formal as well informal discussions and networking. It was eye-opening and engaging in many ways. Participants from almost all parts of India, and with interests ranging from micro-lending to rural tourism, attended.

Day 1

Proceedings were kicked off by Bert Cherian of Meta Results setting the tone with his humour and energy. The ball was set rolling by an interaction with Nachiket Mor of ICICI Foundation, facilitated by Neera Nundy of Dasra. Nachiket talked about his personal experiences that shaped up the path to his current position as President at ICICI Foundation. He narrated how people in rural areas are not exactly used to the apathy and standard of living prevalent in urban areas. He also talked about evolution of ICICI Foundation. Answering to a question, Nachiket questioned the value of experience as the only source of answers to problems. In his opinion, many a times a fresh look at things from a total outsider can give us out-of-box solutions. On a related note he said that the ability to pay or finance an initiative is not always a plus point. Many an innovative idea has come out in crunch times.

Nachiket Mor photo credit Sonia Rai

Nachiket Mor photo credit Sonia Rai

Nachiket was of the view that the term “Social Entrepreneurship” should not have been a groundbreaking term or concept at all. Enterprises should be socially conscious and socially motivated by default. Talking about scaling up organizations, he cited example of Starbucks which had to operate in centers which were poles apart in their culture.

As you have seen, Nachiket gave us some really interesting perspectives of social entrepreneurship.

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Photos from International Conference on Social Entrepreneurship in India

International Conference on Social Entrepreneurship in India Banner

International Conference on Social Entrepreneurship in India Banner - photo credit A. Mishra

Bert Cherian of MetaWorks, the Master of Ceremonies for the event

Bert Cherian of Meta Results, the Master of Ceremonies for the event - photo credit Sonia Rai

Delegates at the conference [photo credit Sonia Rai]

Delegates at the conference - photo credit Sonia Rai

Nachiket Mor, President, ICICI Foundation [photo credit Sonia Rai]

Nachiket Mor, President, ICICI Foundation - photo credit Sonia Rai

More details about the conference, which took place Dec 4-5 in Chennai, are coming from Aishwarya. Stay tuned!

Social Entrepreneurship at the TiE Summit 2008

Look out for the TiE Entrepreneurship Summit 2008 scheduled for December 16-18th to be held at Hotel Grand Ashok, Bangalore.

The theme of this year’s conference is Inclusive Entrepreneurship and features a keynote session on Social Entrepreneurship. Speakers at the keynote include Dr Carl Schramm and Rohini Nilekani. Looks like they also have an entire day dedicated to clean tech, where Harish Hande, the co-founder of SELCO India will be speaking.

Bridging the Wikipedia Divide: Wikipedia Academy

The logic is simple – only less than 0.1% of the Wikipedia readers contribute back, and my guess is that the percentage is even lower in India. The solution is Chennai Wikipedia Academy:

The Chennai Wikipedia Academy is NOT a brick and mortar entity. It’s a concept that embodies the spirit of sharing. It’s a simple initiative that anyone can start in their office, homes, community halls, schools or colleges. It’s simple. Arrange for a place where people who are knowledgeable about Wikipedia will help people who want to learn about Wikipedia.

We think the potential is immense in encouraging users in a country like India to engage more on Wikipedia. A quick look at the Wikipedia Contributor Stats shows that for the English language site, 52% of the contributors are from the US and majority of the contributors are from the English speaking countries Western world. 

The idea came out of a group session at BarCamp Chennai, a user-generated conference focused on technology start-ups. You can learn more about Barcamp here. And while you are it, also check out  Failcampa friendly unconference where people get-together to share and learn from failure

Two Cleantech Conferences to Watch For

Cleantech Group LLC, a leading resource in the cleantech space is holding two conferences this year. The first one is in Mumbai and the second is in China. Vinod Khosla, a premier venture capitalist, is the chair of the India program. Details for Mumbai conference are below:

Cleantech Forum XIX- From IT Outsourcing to Cleantech Resourcing
October 7-9, 2008; Renaissance, Mumbai; Mumbai, India

One of five international forums, the meeting in Mumbai, India,
connects Indian investors, technology innovators, policymakers and
other cleantech influencers with their counterparts from Asia, Europe,
North America, the Middle East and the globe.

Phone: (810) 224-4310
E-mail: sales@cleantech.com
Web site: http://cleantech.com/mumbaiforum08

TC-I Call to Action: Exciting Jobs, Fellowships, and Conferences!

Looking for ways to put thought into action? Well, look no further! Below you’ll find our weekly review of opportunities. Please send along any other opportunities to info@thinkchangeindia.org.

Jobs

WaterAid India is currently seeking a Chief Executive to be based out of New Delhi. Responsibilities include “leadership of the Senior Management Team and overall responsibility for all staff members, currently 40 strong.” Interested candidates can send in their CVs with a cover note and 3 references to resumes @thirdsectorpartners.com, or contact +91 22 6660 3558/6660 3559. The last date for applications is 16 September 2008. For more information, go here.

Fellowships

The last day to apply for the Deshpande Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship, North Karnataka, is 20th September 2008. The program runs from 10 January 2009 to 10 July 2009, with hopes to award a total of 25 fellowships. According to the website,

The Fellowship is an interactive, applied learning experience that aims to foster a generation of successful social entrepreneurs. Participants will learn existing best practices and engage with the foremost social entrepreneurs and local innovators to develop a working knowledge of leading social change models. The program will leverage this theoretical framework to aid each participant in the creation of an individualized proposal for social change.

To apply, check www.deshpandefoundation.org for downloadable applications or email fellowship@dfmail.org with your request for an application. More opportunities follow after the break!

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