First-hand Village Level Perspectives

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit the Deshpande Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Sandbox in the Hubli/Dharwad area. The Foundation was established by Desh Deshpande, who is well known in the US as a serial entrepreneur, and his wife Jaishree. In India, they have focused on their home town of Hubli/Dharwad in Northern Karnataka to conduct an innovative experiment in accelerating social entrepreneurship in rural India.

As part of their effort, they have brought together 25 young Indians, who have shown a commitment to the social sector, for a year long fellowship program. When I visited and met with Naveen Jha, the Program Officer in India this program was just being formulated.

As I perused the blogosphere, I noticed that several Deshpande Fellows have been selected and have now started their year long stint.

(Photo Courtesy of Sanjeev Kulkarni blog)

Of particular interest is the hands-on immersive part of the program. Each fellow is expected to work with a village and understand the issues first hand. Several of them have begun to write their experiences on blogs, so I assume they have been encouraged to do so. Here are a few links to some of the postings describing their village visits.

I would strongly encourage any one who is looking to tackle issues in developing countries to take a look at these first person reports. They provide a fresh insight to the local workings at the village level with several pictures, interviews and comments.

Sample photo from weblog (courtesy N Chinnababu’s Weblog)

The obviously amateur authors provide a candid and personal viewpoint as they spend 2-3 days staying with a village family and meeting and interviewing the folks. The villages range from a few hundred people to several thousands. Some are better off economically, others struggle, and most don’t have basic facilities like toilets or running water.

This is a great experiment unfolding and one that bears observing over the year as the Deshpande fellows continue to work in the field with the local NGOs.

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