Thursday, January 30, 2014

One week from today and I am on my way!

Just a quick update. Today we had a skype meeting with Kumar and Tej, our clients from Swabhimaan.  They are both very passionate about their NGO, their families, their city and their country.  Kumar and Tej had read all about Kazu, Eduardo and I and were keen to share some stories that would help us relate to each other better.  For example, Kumar has saved puppies from the street and they now live with his family AND Kumar's children ice skate just like Eduardo!!  All very cool and I cannot wait to get to know them, their families and my teammates better!! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Swabhimaan NGO Education Society 
 We know who our customers and teammates are!!
 Eduardo from Mexico, Kazu from Japan and I will be working with the Swabhimaan Education NGO.

This blog entry is a little long, but will give you a lot of insight into what we will be doing in India and the group that we will be supporting.
 In 2008, a group of young engineers in Ludhiana decided to pay back to society and the country. They began by meeting social activists and learning the ropes from them in order to meet their goal of charity. The group decided to try to provide free, impactful, needs-based education in a proper classroom environment with proper chairs and desks, blackboards, a playground, toilet, fans, trained teachers, and modern technology and books. One of their proudest moments was in 2011 when their first school "Swami Vivekanand Saraswati Gurukul" got Government recognition from Punjab School Education Board up to Class 10th in 2011. This meant that students who studied at this school received valid report cards and could apply to other schools to pursue further education. Currently, 5 Swabhimaan NGO schools have Government recognition.
They started in 2008 with just one school in a small poor neighborhood called Haibowal.  This neighborhood is where many of the migrant workers, sweepers and gardeners families live. This school was a success and today they have 25 schools in Ludhiana teaching up to 4000 children irrespective of race, caste, color, creed or religion.  Most of these children are he 1st in their family to receive any formal education.

The cost of running a school for 100-150 students with 5 teachers is about USD 3000 per year. Swabhimaan NGO depends on donations from well-meaning individuals to run these schools, but does not have a sustained source of funding from any organizations. They also do not have a system for collecting donations online. They are planning to start an online initiative where they will sell textiles and handicrafts by buying it from the craftsmen directly. The profits made after paying the craftsmen will be used for running these schools. Another initiative that Swabhimaan NGO does is livelihood skills trainings for unemployed mothers of the students. They give training in tailoring and provide sewing machines so that it can become a home based livelihood activity. Swabhimaan NGO is looking to meet with private schools and urge them to place bulk orders for uniforms with Swabhimaan NGO that these women will then supply.
 Their main concerns are:
Swabhimaan NGO has grown to 25 schools mainly on the basis of interest and financial donations of well meaning individuals. Thus, there is a need to identify and expand sources of funding. Its impact is currently very local and limited to Ludhiana city only. Swabhimaan NGO aspires to increase its visibility beyond the city of Ludhiana and scale up and start similar Swabhimaan NGO schools in other cities of Punjab. Additionally, it would like to network with national and international organisations already existing in the field of education (such as Pratham, an education NGO with national reach) so that free, quality education can become accessible to every child. To accomplish all this they need the assistance of IBM volunteers to review their existing processes and develop a 5-year strategic plan for scaling up. 

Our objective over the 4 weeks in Ludhiana will be:
  1. Recommendations on the existing processes of Swabhimaan NGO
  2. Develop a 5-year strategic plan to achieve scaling-up and growth objectives of Swabhimaan NGO
  3. Recommendations on branding and sustainable funding sources
  4. Recommendations on possible partnerships with appropriate national and international organisations
   Activities that they have outlined for us to achieve this objective:

  1.  Hold initial meeting with management to review scope of work, understand mutual expectations, and determine assignment action plan
  2. Revise, if necessary, scope of work within one week based on in person meetings 
  3. Develop an understanding of organization’s programs and processes through interviews with staff and clients
  4. Visit Swabhimaan NGO schools to understand operations and to speak with teachers students, administration
  5. Talk to some families of children attending Swabhimaan NGO schools to understand their motivation for sending their children 
  6. Develop understanding of all aspects of Swabhimaan NGO school program processes, costs, policies
  7. Develop an understanding on how larger organizations like Pratham carry out their programs
  8. Research possibilities for affiliations, partnerships and networks to strengthen the program
  9. Identify possible new markets, funding resources, etc.
  10. Develop 5 year strategic plan to upscale and increase the number of Swabhimaan NGO schools in Punjab
  11.  Provide regularly updated briefings with the organization’s management and/or working group on assignment progress, including final summary presentation on assignment results and recommended next steps
And our final deliverables will be:

  1. A revised scope of work, if necessary, after one week based on the current situation and discussions with organization’s management
  2.  Brief PowerPoint presentation describing outcomes, methodology and next steps
  3.  Written report highlighting activities undertaken and recommendations for implementation
  4.  Train staff on how to implement new strategy or solution
  5. A sustainability plan for the project – what resources will be needed for continued success?
  6. Final report to include 5 year strategic plan to upscale Swabhimaan NGO that includes:     

a.      recommendations on systems and processes

b.     sustainable sources of funding

c.      branding strategy

d.      partnerships with national and international organizations


Background on the IBM Corporate Service Corps Program

The Corporate Service Corps program was launched in 2008 and by the end of 2013, over 2,400 IBM employees will have participated. The program empowers high achieving IBM employees to perform community-driven economic development projects in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America, working at the intersection of business, technology and society. The Corporate Service Corps has had a positive impact of the lives of more the 140000 people through skills transfer and capacity building. Many thousands more have been positively impacted through the services of the organisations the Corporate Service Corps has supported.
IBM selects top management prospects and then trains and dispatches these leaders to emerging markets around the world. Participants spend four weeks in groups of 10 to 15 to help solve economic and social problems of their selected communality. Teams work collaboratively with their government and community counterparts to understand how to implement socially responsible business practices with measurable results in a global context.
A broad array of skills is represented in each team as employees are drawn from across IBM’s business units and geographical locations. Participants are emerging leaders who bring a unique perspective and desire to increase their cultural awareness and knowledge of effective business and service delivery practices. Participants must easily adapt and excel in challenging global environments where they hone their problem solving and teaming skills.
The teams spend three months preparing for their assignments in a robust curriculum that includes education about their host countries, project problem statements, and time for team building via teleconferences and social networking websites. Participants who are not from the consulting practice also immerse themselves in consulting methodology appropriate for working in emerging markets. On location, teams work with local governments, universities, and business groups on a variety of initiatives ranging from upgrading technology for a government agency, increasing international tourism to a government funded poverty alleviation initiative, working with artisans to improving public water quality.
The result is a triple benefit to the IBMers, the community, and to IBM. A global business and service perspective is instilled in program participants and community partners through a dynamic business environment promoting social, business, and economic development. The Corporate Service Corps program enables significant, scalable contributions to global communities while cultivating effective global leaders.

There are also a number of great articles in the press, I have copied a few below for you to check out:

June 12, 2013 Lessons from IBM's skills-based 'service corps'
Through its Corporate Service Corps, IBM has sent more than 2,400 volunteers to lend their skills to organizations in the developing world - and set the standard for corporate volunteerism programs. Devex Impact talked with Gina Tesla, IBM's director of corporate citizenship, and Deirdre White, CEO of CDC Development Solutions, about how the program has become increasingly sophisticated.

July 12, 2013 Gen Y demands: What companies are doing to keep young employees happy and motivated - The Economic Times of India
"Gen Y looks beyond money and the commercial objectives of the company, and aspires to work with an organisation that is associated with a larger purpose," says Sripada Chandrasekhar, VP and head - HR, IBM India & South Asia. IBM has realised that this generation has a social conscience, among other things.
The organisation started Corporate Service Corps, which partners governments and nonprofits in emerging markets around the world. The best performing young employees are made part of this group wherein they offer expertise in technology and management consulting to address pressing problems of the community. "This initiative has proven to add value for all the three stakeholders: communities, IBM employees, especially the millennials and IBM," says Chandrasekhar.

July 25, 2013 Emerging Voices: Public-Private Partners in Development - Council on Foreign Relations
“What would happen if every Fortune 500 company fielded 100 employees per year?” asked Stanley S. Litow, president of the IBM Foundation and vice president of IBM’s Corporate Citizenship efforts, speaking about the long-term potential of the initiatives he oversees. “Collectively, we would deploy 50,000 of the most talented leaders around the world to solve some of the most difficult problems facing society.” IBM, which is celebrating the five-year anniversary of its Corporate Service Corps, the largest program of its kind, recently deployed a team of volunteers to Brazil to work with Casa da Criança, a NGO that serves youth centers across the country. Since 1999, the organization has managed over $19 million in donated products and services; mobilized 2,000 architects, interior designers, and artists; and has worked with nearly 30,000 partner companies.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Facts on India and the city of Ludhiana

Here is a map showing India, with Ludhiana, way up north near Pakistan and Kashmir. I just thought I would share some interesting facts that I have learned about India and the city we will be in:
 - India has a very young population, with a total population of around 1.1B people, the average age is 25! 
         - 45% of the population is below 30 
- IBM started in India with a hardware manufacturing unit in 1951 and has won many awards within the country
- Ludhiana is the largest city in the state of Punjab with a population of about 1.4M people- Ludhiana is known for knitwear (wool, womens stockings) and auto parts - interesting combo!
- There is no international airport in the city, but it is being planned, so we will be traveling by train - They have 6 SHOPPING MALLS with another planned!!
- Over 50% of the people are entrepreneurs and own their 
                                                                     own business, amazing!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

22 days until take-off

This new adventure to Ludhiana, India for the IBM Corporate Service Corp is now starting to feel real: 1. I am preparing my list of back-ups and open tasks to review with my manager and teams, 2. I have been working on my post CSC India adventures (Taj Mahal, Nepal, Veranasi on the Ganges river and ending on the beach in Goa) 3. Yes, I have already started packing, see picture below and 4. most importantly we found out who our customer and our customer teams are!! Eduardo (from Mexico), Kazu (from Japan) and I will be working with the Swabhimaan NGO who provides education for underprivileged children in India. These are children whose families live on less than $1USD per day and live in the Ludhiana, India slums. The three of us are going to develop a 5 year strategic plan to grow within Ludhiana and potentially into greater India, we will also look into recommendations for branding and sustainable funding sources, try to recommend possible partnerships with national and international organizations and if we have any overall ideas on improving the existing processes of the organization. Part of our requirements are going to include the opportunity to meet with the children, see the schools and meet the parents that are sending their kids to these schools. I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity and hope we can achieve the goals set for us. I am very lucky to have a group of coworkers and friends, not to mention my husband! who are all doing things for me that are allowing me to go on this journey and enabling me to give my time to the people of Ludhiana.