Wednesday, March 12, 2008

FOSTeRA & MO - New directions in NGO movement?

In my last post, I had talked about the ease of getting funding in a NGO from global , institutional funders as well as corporate. for eliminating the biggest disease of India, poverty.

A problem as large as poverty has been made more complex by the substantial leakages in the implementation programme of the NGOs and the non-sustainable nature of the projects. Add to it the nepotism that is generated by class, caste, religious & regional considerations and you are back to square one.

In a globalised market driven economy, funds do not move on a sustainable basis purely on charity & sympathy. Hence , livelihood programs of NGOs must meet the hard challenge of generating sustainable good income.

Although sectoral changes in India have meant the rapid growth of the services sector almost at the cost of the agriculture ; there has not been any marked shift in skilled labour from the agricultural sector to the services or manufacturing sector. Logically, there should be one if the per capita income is to improve in the rural country side where poverty is starker. This implies that either new skills be taught (english teaching, call centers, IT training) in the agricultural sector Or traditional non-farm skills (weaving, handicraft, woordwork, mudwork etc.) be used to create global products. A constant change in skill training from NGOs will effect a smoother sectoral transition as well as generation of sustainable income.

A news ticker 6 months back mentioned that a 25 seat rural-BPO-cum-call center was inaugurated at Chanachandiram near Hosur in Tamilnadu. The call centre would impart training as well as provide employment to Plus-Two educated youth from naxal-affected villages in Krishnagiri district. Multi-national companies such as Object webtech and Leo Soft had tied up with FOSTeRA (Fostering technologies in rural areas) to outsource their back office work. About 75 youth from naxal-prone villages would be trained round the clock in the call centre. They would be given training in typing, English grammar, communication skills, data conversion and XML tagging. The salary level is Rs.5000/- per head.

Similarly,Maya Organic, a "social venture company" as opposed to a NGO, after their success of the Bangalore retail shop (selling handcrafted furniture of global quality & fair-trade certified ) is opening up a chain of retail centers, brandnamed MO across the country. The buisness model of MO is novel as they are working on a direct-connect between the producers in village and the consumers in the retails sector . Further, they emphasise that their products will be marketed by showcasing world-class quality and not poverty. Thirdly being a social venture company where VCs have pumped in money, there will be whole lot of mentoring, accountability and professional hand-holding in marketing , which is so much non-existent in a traditional NGO.

FOSTeRA and MO are examples that appear to strike the right chord in the hearts of those who want these scourge to be eliminated from the society.

1 comment:

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