Social Sector Awareness
Our work focuses on rigorously analyzing the impact of anti-poverty programs through a variety of field-based studies.Committed to creating a larger ecosystem.
About Your Organization
Centre for Micro Finance
India, TN, Chennai
Country where this project is creating social impact
Is your organization a
Non‐profit / NGO / Citizen sector organization
Your role in Education
Counselor, Resource Officer, Other.
The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with
How long has your organization been operating?
More than 5 years
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)
How long has your solution been in operation?
Still in idea phase, but looking to launch soon
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
The social sector in India is vibrant – many private and public institutions are engaged in efforts to raise the living standards of the poor. From non-profit organizations offering financial services to for-profit social enterprises, India has served as a laboratory for social innovation and social entrepreneurship. However, awareness about social sector is fairly low among India’s bright student population, many of whom remained focused on conventional career paths. Few students in urban areas are exposed to the poverty and livelihood challenges faced by the poor. Through our initiative, we plan to create a platform where students can gain systematic knowledge about development programs and conditions in rural areas and urban slums.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Instead of taking groups of students on traditional field trips, we plan to provide small research grants to college professors on the condition that they involve their students as field researchers. As field researchers, students will go to the field to collect rigorous quantitative and qualitative data on the effectiveness of development programs. One of the benefits of sending students to the field is that they are exposed to beneficiaries first hand. Such exposure trips can provide students practical insight into actual problems faced by the poor in India. In addition to this,such exposure trips will also make students critically think what kinds of livelihood promotion policies and programs effectively and efficiently serve the poor. We feel that encouraging primary research and providing students with a chance to observe social organizations in action will boost their awareness about the social sector.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
By partnering with college professors and involving their students in this participatory approaches to research on poverty will make students visit the rural areas and urban slums. Through this process, students will interact with the poor people and learn about their household economy, financial behavior and livelihoods activities. This exposure could be a compelling context for college students, and opportunity to make connections with the poor.
These field visits can also be tied to what the students are learning in the class, which will allow them hands on experience or a practical way to learn more about the subject. By coming into direct contact with a different environment and learning how the poor manage their lives, student can better understand their place in the community. This experience can serve to illustrate difficult concepts and provide an opportunity for total immersion in the social setting. On such field trips, students will also practice their social skills and critical thinking abilities outside of the controlled classroom setting and develop connection to the community which they can serve in the future. In addition, students who go on trips find that they want to learn more about the subjects and this could be one way of encouraging them to focus their career in social sector, which could eventually be beneficial for the social sector overall.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Though there are several programs that bring students’ attention to the plight of the poor in India as well as programs focusing on educational trips and training for the students, we are not aware of any programme that focuses primarily on involving students in research projects as field researchers so that students gain systematic knowledge about development programs and conditions in rural areas and urban slums. Involving students at an early stage of a research study not only makes them aware of poverty issues but also helps them develop sensitivity to the same. This can prove pivotal in bringing in more people from the youth to the social sector – new ideas and innovations will then become a reality.
Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
Conduct research on financial services for the poor,develop a platform that promotes active participation in research-practice dialogues
Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
Involving students in research will ensure not only their awareness but also initiate an interest among them in the social sector.
This Entry is about (Issues)
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
In order to start-up this project and understand the responses of the students towards this initiative,we involved 20 MBA students as field researchers in a research project that focused on understanding the financial behavior of the poor in urban slums of South India. We divided them into 5 groups and each group was asked to interview 20 microfinance clients. After each field visit, we encouraged students to document what they learnt from the field. After this exercise, we asked if these students would think of pursuing a career in social sector in the future- almost all students expressed that they could now think of working in this sector. When asked what they would like to do if they joined the sector, most of them expressed that they wanted to focus on designing easy and user friendly financial products for the poor. Out of 20 students, 5 students have now joined our organization as interns and are associated with the projects that are directly addressing the poverty issues.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
This is a systematic method of involving the students to learn from the field and develop empathy towards the poor. The main goal of this initiative is to provide a platform for students to increase an awareness about the social sector. Through this initiative,we hope to build curiosity among the
students as those who are involved might find that they want to learn more about the subjects on which the trips were focused. In the long run, we are developing workforce for the social sector. In addition to this, through this initiative, we will also help students practice his/her social skills and critical thinking abilities outside of the controlled class environment and develop connection to the community which they can serve in the future.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
1. Access to the students could be the biggest barrier. We have already developed a countrywide network of professors through a research capacity development program that we have been running for the last 3 years. We plan to reach out to these professors' students.
2. Motivating students to get into this initiative could be a barrier as students are busy with their day to day classroom activities. To overcome this barrier,we plan to involve the professors and be part of the development of the course curriculum. We will incorporate this research exercise in the curriculum. Some of the topics of the research projects can be tied to what the students are learning in the class, which will allow them hands on experience about the subject also.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
75 students from 3 Universities
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Partnering with professors
Designing of research projects
Orientation and selection of students
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
150 students from 6 Universities
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Partnering with professors
Designing of research projects
Orientation and selection of students
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
As mentioned before, we did a small exercise with 20 students to understand students' responses to this kind of initiative. We selected MBA students because most management students are only focused on corporate jobs - mainly because they are not aware of other career choices. After this exposure trips, 3 students left their corporate internship positions and decided to work with us because they wanted to understand more about financial behavior of the poor and develop effective financial products for them. This incident made us believe that this initiative can make a difference.
Tell us about your partnerships
We have been running a program since the year 2008 that encourages active participation in research-practice dialogues, enabling professors to engage with the mainstream social sector. This network has gradually found the momentum and we are in a position to expand the scope of our current program. We believe that our current relationship with the professors from different parts of India could play an instrumental role in implementing this initiative.
What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]
We will need one full-time project coordinator who will coordinate with the professors, students and our core team members. Apart from this, several research managers from our institute will also participate in this initiative. We will also need at least 2 student coordinators from each university we approach for this initiative.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list