Kakatiya Center for Social Innovation launched during their Development Dialogue

 

IT Secretary of Telangana, Mr. Jayesh Ranjan, Kakatiya Hub of Social Innovation, Deshpande Foundation
IT Secretary of Telangana, Mr. Jayesh Ranjan (4th from left) launching the Kakatiya Hub of Social Innovation. (L to R: Naveen Jha, CEO, Deshpande Foundation India; Jaishree Deshpande, Founder-Trustee, Deshpande Foundation; Raju Reddy, Founding Patron, Kakatiya Sandbox; Dr. ‘Desh’ Deshpande, Founder-Trustee, Deshpande Foundation and Phanindra Sama, Founding Patron, Kakatiya Sandbox)

The Kakatiya Sandbox, the 2nd Sandbox to be launched in India after Hubli, hosted its 2nd Development Dialogue at Nizamabad on February 5th 2017. The day-long conference with 250 delegates and 50 speakers was an inspirational event promoting the sharing of innovative ideas and approaches to development.Delegates at the Kakatiya Sandbox Development Dialogue included representatives from for-profits and not-for-profits, global visionaries, impact investors, as well as local communities, to share their innovations, transformational perspectives and proven successes.

The IT Secretary of the Telangana Government, Mr. Jayesh Ranjan, launched India’s first social innovation center — The Kakatiya Hub for Social Innovation during the Dialogue. Jayesh Ranjan said the Hub, funded by the Telangana government and implemented through the Kakatiya Sandbox will function like a rural incubator to encourage entrepreneurship at the grassroots level.

Deshpande Foundation Field visit. Rainwater farm pond providing critical irrigation for crops in rain-fed lands in Kakatiya Sandbox
Field visit: Farm pond harvesting rain water to provide critical irrigation for crops in non-irrigated agricultural lands in the Kakatiya Sandbox region

Since many delegates were visiting the Sandbox for the first time, field visits were organized to introduce and familiarize them to the many high-impact initiatives in agriculture and healthcare. The conference showcased over 15 innovative university student projects at the LEAD Summit. Proud youth LEADers talked about the positive impact they were making in their communities to an audience of over 400 people who included fellow LEADers, entrepreneurs and college faculty.

Topics addressed during the event included leveraging public-private partnerships to scale social impact, ideas for catalyzing the future of Telangana, enabling social entrepreneurship ecosystems, challenges on scaling effectively and the role of information and technology. The concept and approach of integrating audience participation as part of the forum is highly valued as it enables peer-to-peer dialogue and learning, as well as encouraging and promoting Development Dialogue to discuss and empower sustainable development, starting at the grassroots level.

The Keynote panel included Jayesh Ranjan (IT Secretary,Govt. of Telangana), Dr. Krishna Reddy (CEO, Care Hospitals), Ramji Raghavan (Chairman, Agastya International Foundation) and Dr. Anjini Kochar (Director, India Program, Stanford Center for International Develop) who educated the audience on why it takes all stakeholders to join forces to scale solutions. They stated that governments are going to be the single most critical constituent that is integral to scale significantly, while the corporate sector and social enterprises are instrumental in bringing innovation forward. A primary objective of the panel was to capture the potential value of public-private partnerships in the context of the newly formed state of Telangana.

Kakatiya Sandbox, Deshpande Foundation, Development Dialogue, Nizamabad
A section of the audience at the Development Dialogue

Development Dialogue is fundamentally advocating and promoting your opportunity to expand networking with local enablers, gain insight from professionals, and to collaborate with financial linkages. We appreciate all who came out to this years event and encourage you to continue to follow the Kakatiya Sandbox on social media so that you can stay informed about the many inspirational and innovative projects implementedthroughout the year.

Shravya Nalla: Empowering Small-Town Kids to Dream Big

Daring young minds to dream and helping them chase those dreams can be quite a task. NRI Shravya Reddy’s search for contentment brought her back home to change lives. Although life threw many challenges at her, her dream was to make it possible to empower teachers and students in her hometown to transform education.

Born and brought up in a middle-class family in Nizamabad, Shravya grew up as an insecure person but decided to change herself by getting out of town and joining BITS-Pilani, Rajasthan. During that period, she started Project Saksham in an effort to bring economic empowerment to rural women. Though the project failed, it set her on the path to social change. After graduation, Shravya joined Schlumberger as a field engineer and co-founded the Grassroutes Fellowship program aimed at encouraging the youth to become rural entrepreneurs, but the program failed to scale its operations.

22-shravyanallaShravya continued to work for Schlumberger and moved across three continents. She soon realized that she had joy and happiness, but was nowhere close to feeling content despite all the good that was happening in her professional and personal life. She felt that the biggest problem plaguing the Indian education system was that we get done with all the education and then start learning. She also felt that parents tend to ensure that they are picking safe career options for their daughters, limiting their exposure to the world.

A trip to her mother’s school in Nizamabad changed everything. Shravya knew what she wanted to do- use education to change lives. She launched the Presidency High School and Presidency Kids Preschools, to offer an alternative approach to education in Nizamabad and tier-2 regions.

“Everyone has the freedom to dream and make it big. It takes a lot of struggle and a lot of pain for you to sustain to change those dreams into reality. After working in different countries, we wanted to do something meaningful and challenging, to do something which is very close to my heart. I am hoping our dream to change the education system in Nizamabad and tier-2 towns will be a reality someday,” says Shravya.

At present, Shravya is working with the vision to make learning fun and intuitive for both students and teachers. She is also working to embed technology into education through initiatives such as tablet-based education. “Technology has the power to transform the one size fits all approach of instruction into a more bespoke learning experience. Complex and abstract concepts can be explained better with simulations. We are using app-based learning to teach kids spelling, vocabulary, and algebra,” she says.

Asadeep : Providing Employment to Disabled People

To avail employment opportunities in India is a big challenge for physically challenged people. Technology has reached new heights, inventing many intelligent devices and equipment that aid disabled people but a large section still remain unemployed. Societal barriers, discrimination, lack of mainstream educational opportunities, poverty, lack of awareness, reach to assistive technologies, and other barriers prevent disabled people from entering competitive career fields and leave most uneducated people without access to jobs.

Aasadeep is a social entrepreneurial company that is trying to solve this problem by overcoming employment barriers for more than eighty million challenged people. It solves this problem by giving a solution to yet another big environmental problem- pollution. It manufactures high quality customized eco-friendly disposable consumer products and reducing the use of plastics and styrofoam products that are the major cause of pollution. It makes reasonably priced eco-friendly products using recycled paper and agricultural waste. Established in December 2012, it has partnered with Kakatiya Sandbox to help disabled people get employment.

kks-7Born blind, Srikanth shares, “When I was at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), I had two options before me. One was to settle down in the US and lead a lavish life, or fight the system. I suffered back home. I chose the latter. That’s the quality of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs need to have a vision and be willing to sacrifice. We realized that most companies in India were not hiring disabled people. We started Aasadeep Projects.”

Started business as a partnership owned firm, the company is involved in manufacturing and supplying a huge assortment of printed paper cups, disposable paper cups, wrinkled paper plates, printed disposable plates, packaging films, disposable cups, disposable plates, paper plates and more.

Srikanth also shared, “We aim to provide employment to over 80 million disabled people in our country by 2020. Indias consumer packaging industry is over $30 billion. We have 5 plants across India, employing around 450 people and 60% of them are disabled in some way or the other. It is very satisfying. Social entrepreneurship is all about impacting the broader world.”

Entrepreneurs are Change-Makers, says Dr Deshpande

Entrepreneurship when directed to prevalent social problems, can also be a great way to achieve development. The Sandbox works on this idea of people-led development driven by passionate, mission-driven individuals. Multiple programs managed by the Sandbox work to support and enable such individuals, and companies driven by social goals, to achieve the desired impact.

The founders of the Sandbox model believe in the power of entrepreneurship to transform the world around us. A world that embraces entrepreneurship as a way of life can be free of problems, according to Sandbox founder, Dr Desh Deshpande. “The world needs 75 million entrepreneurs to really run the economy over the next ten years. India needs 10 million entrepreneurs. There has to be entrepreneurship everywhere,” he said at the keynote session of Development Dialogue held in Nizamabad.

17828235144_089a31b635_z-1According to Dr Deshpande, lasting societal change can happen through entrepreneurship. “Entrepreneurs are real change makers. An entrepreneur thinks about something that he does not like in the world and he thinks of an opportunity: a new product, a new service, a new way to socially organize. He does not just leave it at the idea stage, but actually makes that idea happen.The Sandbox works to enable people within communities to become entrepreneurial. The founding goal is to make entrepreneurship a way of life,” says Dr Deshpande.

The approach of the Sandbox is to enable entrepreneurs to create replicable success for solutions, within a given market. Once an entrepreneur validates the viability of a product/ service in a market, he can expand his market and reach a wider audience. “If the solution works in one place, make it work in more places. Once the impact of the solution becomes obvious, it is for the government to take the model and replicate in more places,” he said about his vision for scalable models of social development.

The Beauty of Entrepreneurship is the Empowerment it Brings: Dr Deshpande

The magic of entrepreneurship is that it unfolds new territories in one’s persona, and empowers people to do extraordinary things. It expands the horizons of one’s capacities and helps to fully exploit hidden capabilities within a person. Beyond leading to financial stability and revenue generation, entrepreneurship opens up new possibilities within a person’s potential, according to Sandbox founder, Dr Desh Deshpande.

24454674740_dce4ce2ca9_zDr Deshpande was speaking at the keynote session of the Development Dialogue at Nizamabad when he dwelled on the benefits of entrepreneurship beyond its revenue implications.“The beauty of entrepreneurship is that it opens up a lot of capabilities within you that you didn’t have. Ability to take on a mission and do something makes us feel like our own capabilities are expanding, he said.

The Sandbox itself works on cultivating an entrepreneurial vigor among the people it works with. While fostering entrepreneurship is intrinsic to Sandbox programs such as Startups, other initiatives work on building a can-do attitude and proactive problem-solving approach among participants.

According to Dr Deshpande, the aim of Deshpande Foundation was to instill a spirit of entrepreneurship among people to make them realize their true potential.”When we were thinking of doing something good through Deshpande Foundation, we realized that the biggest gift we could give to the people was to make them feel that they were a lot more capable. It is to make ordinary people do extraordinary things.”

“I am a big believer that you have to create opportunities for experiential learning in entrepreneurship. Once people experience the rush of entrepreneurship, it is just so empowering that people will do nothing but be entrepreneurial. The thing about entrepreneurship is: every year when you look back, you can say: I didn’t know I could do that!”Dr Deshpande had earlier said in a television interview.

Scaling is Crucial to Social Ventures, says Raju Reddy

Achieving maximum impact for social enterprises translates to achieving maximum scale. Scale becomes imperative for social ventures for many reasons: for one, it makes the venture visible and credible. Secondly, achieving scale simply means that more people enjoy the benefits of an initiative. Given India’s dense and growing demographics, scaling to amplify is a basic necessity for social enterprises based in the country.

The founder of Kakatiya Sandbox, Raju Reddy pointed out that unless social innovations touch a large population, it is unlikely that they are going to make a meaningful impact. Whatever you do in the social entrepreneurship space, it has to scale. “India is a country of 1.2 billion people. Unless you touch a large population, you are not going to make a meaningful difference,” he said.

24657182971_71a05c0e3e_zThe Kakatiya Sandbox, adapted from the Hubli Sandbox to help the proximate regions of Nizamabad, Medak, and Karimnagar works on the successful model of development demonstrated by the former. The Sandbox works to deliver impact through sustainable and scalable models that are furthered through people participation.

In following the prototype of the Hubli Sandbox, the Kakatiya Sandbox primarily borrows twin aspects of the Sandbox: the bottom-up approach of social development, which means that social development is conceived and propagated within beneficiary communities at the grass root levels before being scaled up. “It means that unless people living in rural areas are a part of the solution, development is not going to be sustainable,” Raju reiterated.

The Sandbox also works on the principle that the way to solve social challenges is by introducing an entrepreneurial zeal to the functioning of social enterprises. “The Sandbox brings the rigor of for-profit world and the entrepreneurial mindset to addressing social challenges,” Raju said, speaking at the keynote session of the Kakatiya Sandbox in Nizamabad.

Better Cotton Initiative: Popularizing Cotton Farming in India

Farming in India has primarily been a sustenance-driven activity, with farmers sticking primarily to traditional crops, including cash crops like maize, paddy, jowar, and wheat to generate a livelihood. However, given the challenges that agriculture face in the country — poor rainfall, unfair pricing and a lack of scientific guidelines — having multiple avenues of income can greatly improve the farming community.

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The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is an international program that Deshpande Foundation and IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative partnered to popularize profitable, high quality cotton cultivation in Telangana. The program works with cotton farmers to improve the productivity of cotton farmers and to share scientific practices.

The BCI program has already created a significant impact in the Sandbox region, resulting in a 60% boost in income levels of 15,000 farmers, and improving cotton cultivation in afarming area of nearly 3706 acres.

The program works by bringing together all the elements of cottons supply chain, from the farmers to the retailers. The aim is to make high quality cotton a mainstream farming commodity in the region through environment-friendly, scientific methods. BCI and the Foundation offer farmers direct market linkages, avenues of economic seed procurement and training on scientific methods.

Currently, the program is active among farmers in Karimnagar and Medak regions. Farmers are roped in and screened through gram sabhas on the basis of criteria such as their financial standing, area of cultivation and location. They are introduced to the concept of BCI, and connected to vendors of quality seeds. Involved farmers are also trained on the best scientific practices, and offered direct market linkages with ginners, helping them get rid of middlemen in the sale.

Social Innovation is Driven by Relevance and Participation

The Sandbox works on the premise that entrepreneurship driven by the relevance of a business idea for a specific context as pivotal can be a powerful tool for those who want to change the world. The popular idea is that for community development, choosing the right developmental project for a given context is said to be the most crucial step towards success.

24122686503_fed4d9ab0e_zExperts say that entrepreneurship, whether social or profit-driven, is more about doing the right thing to solve a problem in a community and less about chasing market demand.”Entrepreneurship is not about the market, frozen market, demand etc. It’s about what to do when.It’s doing right things at the right time,” Pavan Peechara, CEO of Adaequare said at the recent Development Dialogue at the Kakatiya Sandbox, Nizamabad.

Advocates of social innovation emphasize on the relevance of involving all the stakeholders of development to achieve impact while conceiving, executing and scaling a social project. This means that the beneficiaries of development work, the government as well as private players who drive developmental activities, should all collaborate to achieve the desired impact at the grassroots level, according to Balaraju, Dairy Milk Entrepreneur. Speaking at a session titled stewards of soil at the summit, he said, “Four Ps – Public, Private, People & Participation – are important to make an impact through entrepreneurship.”

The Sandbox itself is driven by the zeal to enable delivery of context-specific solutions to social problems. In the words of Dr Desh Deshpande, social innovation happens when relevance precedes and meets innovation to deliver impact. To quote him, “Social innovation starts with compassion, and then you bring creative ideas. The ideas that you apply to solve certain problems do not have to be patentable, the first time in the world, have a huge competitive advantage, and so on.”

Kakatiya Sandbox : Impacting Districts of Telangana

The progress of community development in rural India is still slow-paced and ignored most often. In tier-2 and tier-3 cities, people face many challenges in their daily lives but are unable to avail good opportunities and a platform to solve these problems. A problem-solving approach is the need of the hour and this has to be adopted by each individual in order to make India a better place. This approach requires an entrepreneurial rigor while solving the problems and creating solution-models.

16In line with the idea, Kakatiya Sandbox is co-created by Raju Reddy (Sierra Atlantic) and Phanindra Sama (redbus.in) that aims to empower the districts of Nizamabad, Karimnagar, and Medak in the state of Telangana. Inspired and replicated from the Hubli Sandbox model, it works on a bottom-up approach to build scalable solutions for community problems in the areas of healthcare, education as well as agriculture. It is based on the concept of creating an effective ecosystem where resources are put to use through entrepreneurship, innovation, and sustainability.

Through an array of programs, the Sandbox engages with not-for-profits, academics, non-governmental organizations and entrepreneurs to launch effective and scalable models of development that can empower semi-urban and rural youth with the leadership and skills necessary to manage their own social enterprises and become the change their community needs.

Like Raju Reddy says, “There are two main aspects to what we do. It is the bottom-up form of social development. It means, unless people living in rural areas are a part of the solution, development is not going to be sustainable. Secondly, it brings the rigor of the for-profit world and the entrepreneurial mindset to addressing social challenges.”

How to Make Public-Private Partnerships Mainstream

Indian economy has been delivering strong economic growth across sectors. To achieve inclusive and sustainable growth, we need to develop infrastructure and promote good politics, education, gender equality and environmental sustainability. We need to search for innovative solutions rather than focusing on traditional solutions provided by the public sector. There is a growing need for both the public and private sectors to come together and create an innovative ecosystem.

The Government of India has therefore focused on developing several enabling tools and activities to spur private sector investments into the country through public-private partnerships. These are vital for catalyzing investments in new infrastructure, and for efficient operation and maintenance of assets and ensuring focus on service delivery.

24655278041_e7bb63dde3_zAt the Development Dialogue (DD) Kakatiya Sandbox, Naveen Jha, CEO, Deshpande Foundation emphasized on the necessity to build an ecosystem where stakeholders can build their capacity. He said, “We usually build solutions that have short lives. We tend to forget who the end target is when we create solutions, systems, and processes. How can we create ecosystems where different stakeholders build their capabilities and move ahead so that the stickiness of the solution gets better and better?”

According to him, public-private partnership meant building a local community, an ecosystem where a solution would stick. “We shouldn’t try to fit end customers into the solution, but rather design the solution based on the customers need,” he added.

Vanitha Datla, CII, Telangana focused on the importance of co-creation along with the government and sustainability. “Government comes out with schemes, and most of the time they do not trickle down to the grassroots level. NGOs have expertise but no money. Corporates have money but no time to do things on their own. They have to come together to create solutions,” she says.|

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Thiagarajan, Agastya International Foundation spoke about the commitment that needed to be established with various stakeholders in the government. “When working with governments, we should expect delays and have patience. There will be distractions, payment delays and frequent changes in leadership,” he said.

Demonstrate what you can do even with small interventions. Break the local barriers and once your capability is established, positioning in the target market becomes very easy. Public-private partnership takes shape once the credibility is established. These were the takeaways from the session ‘Mainstreaming Public-Private Partnerships,’ at the DD.