Vikram Akula, founder of SKS Microfinance, to speak at CGAP, Washington, DC today

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) is hosting Vikram Akula, founder and CEO of microfinance institution SKS Microfinance today as part of their informal brown bag series. RSVP to, or call the CGAP offices at 202-473-9594 for more information. The CGAP offices are on the third floor of 900 19th Street NW, Washington DC.

Some background on SKS Microfinance and Vikram Akula follows:

Prior to launching SKS, Vikram Akula was a Fulbright Scholar in India, during which time he coordinated a government-funded (Jawahar Rozgar Yojana) action-research project on providing microfinance for food security. He holds an BA from Tufts, an MA from Yale and a PhD from the University of Chicago, where his dissertation focused on poverty alleviation strategies.

Since its launch in 1998, SKS Microfinance has provided over USD 550 million in loans, with loans of USD 223 million currently outstanding to 1,721,155 women members in poor regions of India. Borrowers take loans for a range of income-generating activities, including livestock, agriculture, trade, production and service businesses. SKS also offers interest-free loans for emergencies and life insurance to its members. Its nonprofit wing, SKS Foundation, runs an Ultra Poor Program. SKS currently has 700 microfinance branches in 15 states across India. In 2007, SKS Microfinance claimed nearly 170 percent growth and a 99 percent on-time repayment rate.

Various Trainings/Workshops – CSR, Participatory Learning, and Livelihoods Promotion

We thought you might find the following trainings/workshops of particular interest. If you happen to attend any of these events, please let us know how useful you found them to be:

1. Workshop on Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility, 24-25 April, Chennai

The programme will help participants to increase their awareness of the CSR and its various components. They will also learn how to design their programmes keeping in mind the interests of the company’s stakeholders, including employees and local communities, and enable them to make value added contributions towards building the company’s brand image and reputation.

The registration deadline for this workshop is April 15th.

2. Training Programme on the Techniques of Participatory Learning and Action (PLA), 26-31 May, Bangalore

Read more after the break. Continue reading

[Guest Post]: Networking Consistently & Informally – A Unique Offering for Start-Ups

Editors Note: Guest Blogger Keyzom Ngodup works with Intellecap, a pioneering social venture capital firm focused on making double bottom-line investments in India. In addition to capital and investment support, Intellecap is unique in that they also provide a range of support services that enable social ventures to move from start-up stage into growth mode. You can read Keyzom’s other posts here.

Pune OpenCoffee Club is a new community designed to help technology startup enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, developers, advisor’s, investors and everyone else create a central place for networking. The platform gives a unique opportunity to create communities that transcend beyond their area of work and facilitates cross-linkages as well as fostering creativity through targeted discussions among diverse players. OpenCoffee Club allows anyone to announce and arrange a networking session.

As Sramana Mitra puts it in Too Much Money, Too Few Deals, “there is excess capital chasing Indian start-ups and lack of fundable deals.” Interesting, she explored the issue of seed capital for entrepreneurship in India and has highlighted that “mentor-capital”, critical and imperative at this stage of the game to build a pipeline of startup companies, is largely missing from the scene. Pune OpenCoffee Club is an interesting way of informally bringing mentoring spirit to start-ups.

Certificate Programme in Resource Mobilization and Communication

Related to the below post regarding process documentation, another critical skill necessary for the sustainability of any non-profit organization is the ability to mobilize local resources – financial, human, intellectual, or otherwise.  Currently, non-profit organizations in India are heavily dependent on international organizations for garnering necessary funds, a trend that must be supplemented with the local infusion of resources in order to ensure organizational viability. 

In response to this issue, the Resource Alliance, in collaboration with the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), has recently launched a 15-day Certificate Programme in Resource Mobilization and Communication for non-profit organizations (9-24th April, 2008 in Ahmedabad or 1st-15th May in Bhubaneshwar, sponsoring organization Xaviers Institute of Management).  The aim of the Programme is to enable organizations to “identify a range of potential sources appropriate to their context and devise an effective resource mobilisation strategy that is consistent with the values of the community and sector of which they are a part.”  More after the jump. Continue reading

Process Documentation Training Organized by the Grassroots Institute

All too often development organizations lack the managerial skills necessary to properly document, report, and publish findings associated with their work.  However, equally as important as commitment and passion are the concrete skills necessary to document and disseminate information to interested parties.

In order to address this issue, the Grassroots Insitute is conducting a process documentation training this upcoming April 22-26th in Bajaura, Kullu (outside of Delhi).  The training aims to streamline organizational efficienciency and effectiveness by targeting project/field executives who need the skills necessary to document, report, and publish organizational output.  Included in the training program will be the following:

The training imparts skills of preparing varied types of documents e.g. quarterly/six-monthly/ annual progress reports, annual report of organization, folder, newsletter, poster, manual, photo book, case book, etc. It simultaneously inculcates skills of disseminating documentation in a medium-friendly way. Visual presentation of documents is central to all types of documents. Moreover, during the implementation of development projects various case stories and success stories can not only reveal the processes of execution but also give rise to learning. But these stories remain undocumented due to the lack of necessary skills at the part of organization.  The training program also impart skills among project executives of how to write case and success stories.

To training has been designed specifically for NGO or government executives currently involved in “field implementation and/or documentation of development projects.”  The last date for registration is April 15th, with early applicants given priority.  For more information, go here or contact Mr. Chuni Lal at

Note: Application forms must be sent by post to the address included on the website.

Source: ProPoor

Training Programme on Basic and Advanced Data Analysis using SPSS

Sambodhi Research and Communications is hosting a SPSS training programme in Delhi, India from April 22nd – 25th.  The training programme will “provide information and skills on the basics of using SPSS for informed decision-making.”  Specifically, the programme focuses on:

* Developing better understanding of basic concepts of statistics
* Providing an overview of the computer assisted data analysis and statistical softwares
* Developing requisite skills for bringing in data into SPSS and data transformations
* Enhancing knowledge base and develop skills for selecting appropriate analyses and performing the analyses
* Augmenting knowledge and skills for interpretation of analyses and presentatation in user friendly formats.

For further information, contact Sunil Kumar Singh at, or go here.

World Bank Executive Development Program – Inclusive and Sustainable Business: Creating Markets with the Poor

What are the “linkages between corporate strategy and development”?  How can public and corporate sector leaders implement strategies that provide opportunities for the world’s 4 billion people to lift themselves out of poverty?  The World Bank Institute has recently launched an “Executive Development Program” to help company managers and public sector leaders develop sustainable, yet profitable business models in emerging markets:

This unique program offers you insights to build corporate strategies that fight poverty while delivering profits. An innovative learning model will encourage you to learn how your organization can not only meet the bottom line, but develop working business models that include the world’s poor as investors, producers, sellers and buyers. Specifically, you will:

  • Gain a unique interdisciplinary perspective on how to align social and environmental issues with corporate strategy and develop successful business models in low income markets.
  • Explore how global trends, global imbalances, and global opportunities affect corporate strategy as well as the broader development objective of reaching the “4 Billion” at the base of the pyramid.
  • Identify the gaps in existing market institutions which may be acting as barriers to growth and understand how to overcome them.
  • Learn interdisciplinary approaches to complex issues including the elements of good governance and accountability, cross-sectoral partnerships, and measuring impact.
  • Capture lessons from relevant project experience and corporate initiatives that could be applied within your organization.

The curriculum/program includes topics such as: 1) Global Trends, Imbalances, and Opportunities: Reaching the “4 Billion”; 2) Aligning Corporate Strategy with the Development Agenda; 3) Promoting Good Governance; 4) The Role of Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships; and 5) Measuring Impact.   The “face-to-face” component of the program will be held in Washington, DC from June 9-13, and the “distance learning component” will be held from June 16-30, 2008. 

Want to learn more?  Go here.  Or apply here

Source:  World Business Council for Sustainable Development

2008 Skoll World Forum Starts Today

This looks like to be a very exciting event, and while it is too late to attend in person, Skoll has hired the help of livebloggers for the entirety of the conference. Go here for live updates. ThinkChange India will be following closely via the same feeds and will be providing periodic updates over what is being said during the conference, if you want a more concise recap of the events.

To make organization easier, we will create a temporary category labeled as SWF2008 so that you can quickly and easily head to it.

ThinkChange in NYC

Not to be confused with this blog (although all of the staff of ThinkChange India are members), a new organization called ThinkChange is a social entrepreneurship roundtable in New York City whose goal is to help ideas become real, sustainable projects. Here is an excerpt from their email invite:

CHANGE. What exactly does it mean? How can we work towards “change”? Are you somebody who wants to “do something”, who wants to work towards “change”, but doesn’t know where to start, with whom, or how?
With these questions in mind, the Indicorps alumni of New York invite you to join “ThinkChange“, a social entrepreneurship roundtable that aims to serve as an idea / action incubator for people with the common vision of effecting grassroots level change. Through a series of meetings that build knowledge on issues of common interest, and provide opportunities to network and build expertise on topics such as social business planning, marketing, and implementation, we hope to spark the exchange of ideas and hopefully, the eventual implementation of innovative solutions to pressing problems in India. Even more simply, we hope to establish a network of like-minded individuals that actively meet, exchange ideas, and work together to build service into their everyday lives. Sound intriguing?

The roundtable is actively looking for more participants and is meeting again on Monday, March 24th. The meeting is from 7pm-9pm at the Puck Building, 295 Lafayette Street (at the corner of Houston and Lafayette) in the Jersey Conference Room.

Anyone interested, please email to RSVP or to find out more information. This is also a great opportunity to meet many of the bloggers on ThinkChange India.