Tag Archives: Hubli

Agastya – transforming education in India

I had the chance to visit Agastya’s operations in Hubli earlier this year. Agastya is a NGO based in India that is hoping to transform the educational system by making it more interactive, experimental and interesting for children. Recently Ramji Raghavan, Agastya’s founder visited Boston and I had occasion to meet and hear him speak passionately about why he started Agastya after a career in banking. It was wonderful to hear and see some of the videos he brought along about the great progress and impact that the organization is having.

I wrote a piece about it in Lokvani which I am reproducing below .  You can also see it at Lokvani. I will post the pictures I took a little later. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Mann Deshi Mahila Bank – a Women’s bank

Recently micro-finance has caught the attention of the public specially after Prof. Yunus was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2006. Worldwide there are thousands of these institutions providing micro-credit to hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women.

One of the challenges that micro-finance faces is that beyond providing its borrowers with credit, it needs to make sure that they also have marketable skills and training that will increase their income generating capacity and the required business skills to help them manage their enterprises. One of the innovative organizations that has attempted to tackle this issue is the Mann Deshi Mahila Bank, a women owned cooperative foudned by Chetna Gala Sinha. They not only put a business skills program together, they also provided a mobile mechanism to bring the training out to the rural villages where it would have maximum impact.

I had written an article about my visit to the Mann Deshi office and their unique Business School on Wheels for Women in a column for Lokvani that is reproduced below. You can see some of the photos I took here.

Mann Deshi Mahila Bank and Its Business School on Wheels for Rural Women Raj Melville, Lokvani.com, 05/15/2008

Over two dozen expectant faces turned in our direction as we walked into the small crowded room on the second floor of a storefront office in downtown Hubli. These women had come from surrounding villages, some a half a day’s journey by bus, to attend the final graduation ceremony of their rural business course. I was introduced to the group by our guide, Sheela Munro, Program Officer with the Mann Deshi Mahila Bank.  Over the course of the past month, these graduates had learnt basic computer skills or sewing skills from a mobile training center in a converted school bus.

The Mann Deshi Mahila Bank, a women owned co-operative bank, was started by Chetna Gala Sinha, an economist, farmer and activist in the drought-prone Mann Desh region of Maharashtra. Its goal was to help empower the women in the area and to enable them to achieve financial independence and self sufficiency.  Due to the poor agricultural conditions, many local men wound up leaving the area to look for employment in urban centers. The burden of responsibility at home fell on the women who were left behind. With a high illiteracy rate and low level of basic skills, most women worked at meager jobs on farms or as street vendors. By providing women with both basic vocational training and the ability to save and borrow money, Mann Deshi has created thousands of budding rural women entrepreneurs.

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BAIF Development Research Foundation – Sustainable Development To Support Rural Families

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to spend a month in India and visited several NGOs while there. One of the innovative organizations is BAIF (Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation) that originally was founded in a village outside of Pune, and is now at a number of locations in India.

I visited their operations outside of Hubli in Northern Karnataka state and wrote an article about their work for Lokvani.com, the e-magazine for the Indian community of New England.I have reproduced the article below. You can see some of the pictures I took on the Photos Tab of this Blog.

BAIF Development Research Foundation – Sustainable Development To Support Rural Families, Raj Melville, Lokvani.com, 06/12/2008

The dry ground, baked hard and crumbling, stretches out all the way to the horizon as we rattle along in a Sumo 4-wheeler a half hour out of Hubli in Karnataka State. A few scrawny bushes, struggling against the wind and heat, dot the landscape. Our host, Dr. Bhat from BAIF, points out some of the geographical features as we pass through several villages, each one smaller than the previous one. Finally we pull over in front of a compound and hop off as Dr. Bhat proudly points out the cluster of buildings that are BAIF’s rural training center.

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