Mumbai, March 22: A few concerned people have come together to set up a venture to help jumpstart innovations in the social sector by scaling and replicating them quickly across the country. The venture will boast of names like Harsh Mariwalla, Anu Aga, Jerry Rao and Ashwin Dani.
'What India needs is not too many solutions but scaled-up solutions,' says Rajiv Narang, chairman and managing director of Erehwon, an innovation consulting firm spearheading the mission by partnering with Marico Industries, a consumer goods major.
The industrialists want innovations to spread like wildfire. Pratham, an NGO, has found teaching methods that can help reduce the time a child takes to become literate. Pratham succeeded in not only preparing children for school through balwadis, it has brought this level of literacy to 1 million children in just four years.
An Ekal Vidyalaya costs just Rs 365 per year per school to run. For the first two years, the Ekal Vidyalaya foundation sponsors the school.
About the Marico Foundation, Harsh Mariwalla, chairman of Marico Industries, said the entity has a single mission: 'To fuel innovation in India'.
'I am doing this through my company for now, but I also have plans to do something on my own,' Mariwala added.
Shantha Sinha of MV Foundation, who works among the naxalite-infested districts of Andhra Pradesh, refers to the success of her venture where they brought back the old gurukul concept in 18 districts. The concept is being implemented in states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu.
Sinha said rather than poverty causing lack of education, it is lack of education that perpetuates poverty. MV Foundation had taken 1000 children into schools in a mandal in Andhra Pradesh. This created a labour shortage that had to be filled in by adult labour at higher rates. This in turn raised the income of the family three-fold as labour was no longer as cheap.
'At times, Sinha finds it difficult to pay her teachers, who go without salaries for months,' Mariwala said.
Erehwon's Narang says they would try and get the Planning Commission to allow funding straight to the organisations instead of the multilateral agencies through which the money flows in.
Narang says, it's a pity that much of the funding comes from abroad. This could change if people like Mariwala, Aga and Rao takes over the mantle.