Womanity has undertaken the mission to empower girls and women in developing countries to shape their future and accelerate progress within their communities. Womanity Foundation’s approach to carrying out its mission focuses on a close collaboration with social entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial organisations addressing women’s empowerment and progress. Womanity also champions innovations in social change and seeks to find programmes that have potential to be replicated and scaled. Our relationship with WF began in 2014-15. It is on the back of this relationship and the engagements that have emerged which have really helped SSF practice its approach. A fair number of clients and engagements outlined below are largely on account of our work with and for Womanity Foundation’s Women Change Maker’s programme in India. This programme looks to select two organisations every couple of years to provide them capability-building support. We remain grateful to WF and treasure this association.
2014 - Present
Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT), Ahmedabad
MHT was founded in 1994 by the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), in order to facilitate better housing and infrastructure for its members in the state of Gujarat. MHT works to improve the material living conditions in urban areas, i.e., habitat improvement, through the agency of women. We call this ‘city within a city’, or responsible urbanisation. Over the years it has evolved many forms of intervention to address issues of mass unplanned urbanisation including a not-for-profit, credit co-operatives and a for-profit social enterprise. Present in 7 cities across 7 different states, it is today one of the larger non-profits of its kind in urban India, working at the levels of grass-root, local and state governments and with private sector. SSF has been providing OD support to the organisation since November, 2015. It is amongst one of our more complex engagements spanning as it does multiple organisational formats (non-profit, for-profit and credit cooperatives), intellectual inter-weaving of gender, habitat and urban governance, and operational effectiveness. Consequently, we have been involved in a range of decision-making from strategic planning, communication & fund-raising, compensation, governance, capability development of middle-management and significantly, organisation re-structuring.
2015 - Present
Anudip Foundation & iMerit, Kolkata
Anudip Foundation is a dedicated non-profit organisation that creates livelihood opportunities for impoverished people in rural areas and urban slums of India by providing market aligned skills training in SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) and employment opportunities. It operates 150+ training centres in West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and North East India. SSF provided OD support to the organisation from 2010 to 2014. When we started our engagement, we were mostly involved in discussions with senior management, primarily around shaping thought and strategic planning. The discussions were about exploring as many possible models of intervention and to help Anudip build a relationship with one of the leading governmental skills development programme. Another aspect that the model had to account for is the potential for making trained youth work in the latest technology innovation areas. The initial jobs that started coming in were simple yet unexplored for rural youths. As the skills of graduates were validated by delivering these tasks from new age technology, the job sourcing initiative was formalised into a for profit social enterprise called iMerit. We helped Anudip to secure grants from government initiatives and private foundations in order to run the trainings efficiently. In discussion with donors, the focus of Anudip turned to increase the contribution from earner income and achieve sustainability in the long term. Our support continued on developing required organisational structure, design and process to support the earned income model.
iMerit grew out of the work of Anudip. We were engaged with it since its inception as an initiative to make available latest jobs in emerging technologies to graduates of Anudip Foundation. We worked with the founder to access seed funding and then worked as an extension to the CEO’s office managing strategy, finance, operations and technology delivery. While the founder and senior management focused on building partnerships with Silicon Valley technology companies, we took the responsibility of implementation in India and some part of business development efforts. Gradually as the organisation grew and persons were hired, we assisted the management in building their capabilities. As capabilities improved, our role shifted to support iMerit largely with raising growth capital, specifically, series A funding from Omidyar Foundation. iMerit is now a well established for-profit business. It is a unique engagement for us for two reasons: one it was an exclusive for-profit model we worked with; and we were unusually involved in implementation.
2011 - 2015
Swayam Shikshan Prayog, Pune
Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), formally launched in 1998, promotes sustainable community development through empowerment of women as entrepreneurs, community leaders and change-makers supported by a wide range of initiatives that offer skill-building, livelihoods, agricultural and health-enhancing opportunities to rural women, girls and communities. Its unique characteristic has been its persistent focus on the most backward districts of Maharashtra: Osmanabad and Latur. The question before it today remains how to consolidate its work and look at ways of expanding its area of operation as well as the quality of its impact. SSF has been providing OD support to the organisation since September, 2017. We believe one of our significant contributions has been to make SSP see its real strength as the investments it has made in women in communities over its years of work. Our present work with SSP focuses exclusively on enabling it to build an organisational capability geared to fully realise the potential of this ‘community investment’ on a stand-alone basis as well as for its projects and desire to enter adjacent districts.
2017 - Present
VIKAS Centre for Development, Ahmedabad
VIKAS started in 1978 as a small not-for-profit which has worked largely on issues of urban and rural settlements. Over the years, it has gradually consolidated its operations in two main regions: Jambusar taluka in Bharuch district, and Surendranagar district in the Kutch/Saurashtra region of Gujarat. In the former it addresses itself to questions of bonded labourers, and in the latter of salt workers (Agariyas). For a small organisation, it has been notable for the fact that it was probably the first not-for-profit to venture with Public Ltd. Company (Saline Area Vitalization Enterprise) in 1995, and over the years has experimented with a number of organisational forms, with mixed success. Presently, it has two major initiatives: a ‘Bio-shield’ programme that implements a multi-layered plantation along the coast of South Gujarat and replacing diesel as the primary source of energy for Agariyas with solar pump. In both it has conceptualised the design of the whole programme and created an ecosystem involving governments, other non-profits and private sector participants to create replicable models. SSF has been engaged with this organisation since May, 2012. The original reason for our engagement was to put in place a mechanism for succession, a task which has no ready answer. Rather than address the question directly we have helped the organisation think through its choices, bring stability to its operations and better define the inter-relationships and roles of the various entities, and as a consequence, better prepare itself for succession. We would like to emphasise that whilst small, this is one of the most innovative and changing organisation we have worked with. Hence our thrust has always been to ensure that the spirit of the organisation does not over-reach the real limits and bounds. VIKAS presents, in our opinion, a classic example of an institution which has constantly responded to changing external circumstances by changing its form: a subject which has found expression in a study developed by Prof. Vishal Gupta, at the department of Organisational Behaviour, at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
2012 - Present
Tribhuvandas Foundation, Anand
Tribhuvandas Foundation, initiated by the founder of Amul, Tribhuvandas Patel, is a mature not-for-profit with a long and distinguished body of work, sizeable spread of field operations, and an approach which has evolved over a 35-year history, focusing primarily on ante/post-natal programmes. Presently, it runs a community-health programme across 840 villages of Anand, Kheda and Mahisagar districts (erstwhile old Kheda District) in Gujarat. The organisation is looking to strengthen its administrative capacity in order to enable it to pivot its focus to home-based care and position it in the context of the current health-care focus on institution-driven care, as well as improve the reach of its programmes to cover all dairy cooperatives of Amul within these 3 districts. Our engagement commenced in January, 2018 and is taking shape at the time of writing. Tribhuvandas Foundation is, by far, the largest non-profit we are working with when measured in terms of its sheer spread of operations. However, it is also one of the most traditional in its management approach presenting us with a challenge of being especially sensitive to the cultural norms of a very established institution while trying to build systems & processes, inducting more professionals and complementing the capacities of some of the senior management personnel. Our sense is that the work we are doing for Tribhuvandas is essentially about helping the organisation identify exactly what to retain, what to discard, and what to infuse into its decision-making process. It is an assignment we are approaching with utmost caution and subtlety and we too are learning in the process.
2018 - Present
Zubaan, New Delhi
Zubaan is an independent feminist publishing house set-up in 2003 as an imprint of Kali for Women, and looks at issues of women and LGBTQ in India and South Asia. It is facing challenges on account of significant changes in publishing (especially the move away from paper printing), and reduction in availability of grant funding for this kind of work. Zubaan approached Social Synergy Foundation in 2015 to identify ways to explore a profit-oriented approach and mobilise equity funding. SSF’s advice was to not actively pursue this route, and rather invest its efforts in continuing to source grant-driven programmes and look at smaller scale income generation activities. This advice was taken with a pinch of salt at the time, but Zubaan decided to stay with it and appreciates the support SSF then provided. Since then, we continued to remain in touch with Zubaan and recently have initiated, what we believe, is a three-year organisational development process to bring greater clarity, stability and structure to its hybrid model. We remain greatly attached to the underlying cause of the organisation and its burning relevance. In our own limited way, we look for opportunities wherein we can help some of our other clients draw on their strengths. Our present engagement with them is on a purely non-commercial basis.
2016 - Present
Apne Aap Women World Wide, New Delhi
Apne Aap works on issues of trafficking of women and girls in India and South Asia. It has garnered international acclaim for its work on this issue over the years, especially for its approach to rehabilitation of persons rescued. Apne Aap, which was a fellow of Womanity Foundation’s Women Change Makers Programme in India, approached SSF in late 2016 to document its approach so that the same can be used for training within the organisation and is also shareable with other organisations working in the same field. Like in case of Zubaan, we continued to remain in touch and have recently formalised an association to help it think through how it intends to approach its work over the next few years.
2016 - Present
Indian School of Development Management, Noida
ISDM is strictly not an engagement of Social Synergy Foundation, but one of its members is involved with the institute since December, 2016, to provide a practitioner’s perspective. He is part of the Academic Working Group (AWG), responsible for design of the curriculum of the one-year PGP programme in development management, its roll-out, and student assessments. The institute had its first batch from July, 2017 to June, 2018. The curriculum is designed around three components: knowledge, personal mastery & radical transformation leadership, and problem-based learning with the student’s divided equally between all the three components. He continues to be involved with the institute on a regular basis. The learnings from this experience are being continuously channelled back into SSF’s work.