About social venture in India - for french reader

More and more funds in India are looking for social business project. Whether they are dedicated to this segment, or are looking with interest to a sector in which there is now at least one IPO to follow (microfinance organization SKS)! More and more foreign funds are eyeing at India. Some french also, but not enough!

 Emmanuelle Larroque has just spent few weeks around Chennai to gather information about social funds in India. Have a look on her interesting listing (in french only!) here

Identify and distribute!

India like big scheme.

NREGA initiative is providing at least 100 days of work for 100 roupies per day (about 1.5 euros, a bit more now that INR/Euro is quite 58!). The right to food act is now ensuring 35 kilogram of grain per month at 3 roupies per kg. The Times of India of april, 29th, points out 2 interesting and classical major issue for this type of issues.

It is not only an issue linked to a big public scheme. I faced the same when we had to understand where and how we should deliver improved cookstoves and find a sustainable model for it.

First issue is about identification of the poor. Things will improve when Nilekani will have completed his huge Unique Identification of all Indians. As for now, according to the latest official estimates, one Indian out of three is considered as poor. 400 million people. When going more in details, in villages, poors automatically include scheduled tribes, maha Dalits and households headed by single women, disabled persons and minors. Better-off are identified by simple characteristics such as car ownership, ownership of double the average land holding, employment in government or the organized sector… and are excluded from the Below the Poverty Line (BPL). Others have to be ranked by a points system. A main issue is the influence richest use to get included in BPL, while the deserving poor get excluded. A new way to go (that I must admit I appreciate a lot!) would be a universal public distribution, at least in the poorest 50 to 100 districts where over 80% of households are BPL.

Second issue is about distribution. Whether it is grain, services or products, current distribution network are usually facing leakage, corruption, divert part of the flow. All major players recognize the difficulty of avoiding such failures in the distribution system. One option could be to transfer cash directly to BPL households. Others are food coupons or distribution through NREGA system. But it doesn’t prevent the last mile issue. Last miles distributors (PDS shops, NREGA job card distributor, food coupon distributor) are usually controlled by the richs and powerful of the villages. Parallel institutions of the poor, where they have voice and control do exist in embryonic form, in women Self Help Group (SHG). In Tamil Nadu, the Weaver’s Development Corporation is now playing a multitasking, multiproduct distribution role.

I have very few to object to this analyze made by Sudipto Mundle, emeritus professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policiy, except SHG are indeed targeting by quite all manufacters and product designers willing to access the poorest. Most of them have a real network, real reach, agents coming on the ground every week… But have no experience in warehousing, procurement and distribution. Huge challenge, necessary to transform brilliant schemes and products into concrete social impact in villages.

Bullet points #4 - Blue Sweater

This bullet point is not from me. It is from Julien Fortin, my associate in a new consulting group we are quietly launching. He also found the name of this group, Palaam, meaning bridge in Tamil. But I won't say more now, and just copy/paste what he learnt by reading The Blue Sweater, by Jacqueline Novogratz, Acumen's founder and CEO. He is part of our current "back to basics" effort. Read, interview... to find the way we want to act in this fascinating but confusing BOP universe. So, of course, it doesn t mean that we share all that we read and write in this blog, but that we hear!

A small personal reflexion. The more I read, the more I meet, the more it looks like BOP share a lot with start ups! Immature markets, infinite players trying to find their way because technology is more and more affordable, struggling to find an efficient model, claiming that they found but rarely really sustainable!



Lire la suite : Bullet points #4 - Blue Sweater

A tour in south India

Done! We have finally managed to find 10 days to meet with Mireille and organize a tour in Tamil Nadu and Bangalore. The idea was to mix a french social investor (Mireille) and an indian-based social business developer (myself) to go and meet social enterprises in south India. We were hoping to meet both headquarters in cities and ground organizations locally. The expected output was ideas to strenghten relationship between france and india regarding social business!

I let you read the report and comment. All ideas and contributions are of course welcome. Report can be downloaded by clicking here. You ll find some idea. One of them is to organize this tour again, with 8 to 10 people coming here for a touristic/discovery tour!


I ll be in France from 18th may to 5th of july, if some are there!

Bullet points #3 - Out of poverty

Today is dedicated to the bible of all social designers, Out of Poverty, from Paul Polak (Paul Polak, Out of Povery, What works when traditional approaches fail, Tata McGraw Hill Edition, 2008). The lattest is the founder of the biggest social design company in the world, IDEI! You find a bit between Prahalad and Karnani, want to come back to less theory and more action. This book should fit!

Just a first sentence before you all click on "read more" for the first series of bullet points about this wonderful book. I like the way he introduce simplicity and ground-based principles.And the proof that engineering is not exclusively for engineers (Paul Polas was psychiatrist before going to social design... special tribute to Thomas!)

"Poverty plays such a critical role in the incidence and prevalence of all forms of illness, I have always believed that learning about poverty and what can be done to end it should be a basic science in every medical school and psychiatric-training curriculum.". Read more by clicking on... read more!




Lire la suite : Bullet points #3 - Out of poverty