Kamesh Salam, Founder, South Asian Bamboo Foundation (SABF) engages artisans in Manipur who use bamboo to design bicycle frames. SBAF is working to market these cycles on a commercial basis and at the same time, to promote the use of bamboo as a green material. Consulting for Social Good (CSG) intervened to create better outcomes for SABF. Shiva Dhawan, co-founder, CSG, explains their role,
We studied similar successful models worldwide. In consultation with Prof. V M Chariar (Faculty, Centre for Rural Development and Technology, IIT Delhi), an expert in bamboo technologies, we proposed a revenue generating business model which works on cycle sharing basis. We identified Taj Mahal and other archaeological sites as location to set up these stands. We have prepared a pitch for the proposal and submitted it to the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI). We are also in talks with the Government of Uttar Pradesh.
Kamesh tells us about what has been his experience. “They have been helping me to find out the market place for bamboo products. These are intelligent young minds who know what is happening in and around the world. What’s unique is that they are able to guide us about what the young generation looks for these days, these are things that we don’t even know. They have helped us in funding initiatives and getting our products to places.”
Consulting for Social Good (CSG) was founded by Dev Priyam and Shiva Dhawan in January 2014, when they were studying in IIT, Delhi.
Talking about what made them start CSG, Shiva says, “Both of us had engaged with multiple NGOs before the conception of CSG. We shared the belief that the NGO-student engagement was a very inefficient one. The potential of a student’s contribution in the social sector can be unleashed only if the engagement is made more specific and the technical skills and expertise of students can be exploited.”
Dev adds another factor to this,
While interviewing students who had interned with NGOs in the summers of 2012 and 2013, I realized that the student experience was not enriching and little social impact was created. There was an urgent need to map the needs of NGOs and skill sets of students.
Intent of CSG
The aim of CSG is to create a pro-bono mechanism which utilizes the potential and expertise of corporate consultants and college students to create social impact. They aim to achieve this by improving operations of NGOs and social enterprises and making them financially sustainable. Dev explains further,
“We help these organizations in strategizing their decisions based on industry research and data analysis. We have also developed a program where students represent the organizations in business plan competitions to raise funds and promote networking.”
Since its inception CSG’s members have engaged with many social enterprises and NGOs – Priyal Motwani, a third year civil engineering student at IIT Delhi has been leading the engagement with Uravu, a non-government organization working with people, governments and businesses to implement programmes for sustainable employment and income generation in rural areas. Another member, Sukriti Goel, an undergraduate management student at Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (CBS), is currently working on a project with Aarohan Learning Centre Foundation. Some other organizations CSG has worked with are People for Parity, Save the Children, Youth for Seva to name a few.
Dev and Shiva, now 23 and 22 respectively, continue to engage with NGOs and social enterprises along with a full time job at one of the top consultancy firms in India.
Is it sustainable?
Since Dev and Shiva are not college students anymore and don’t have the luxury of using their time like they did in college, we ask if CSG is still going strong. Dev and Shiva say a vehement yes.
Dev tells us that the student team consists of the core team of CSG and ensures sustainability of the organisation. Fresh recruiting through a stringent process is carried out simultaneously. Every year a new president and core team of students is formed who carry out the projects and engage the consultants as mentors. The consultant pool keeps on getting bigger as the students stay actively involved as mentors after they leave college for the corporate world. Commenting on their role, Shiva says
Our role is to ensure proper functioning of the student team, successful engagement of mentors and more than satisfactory delivery of project to the client, this is done by team meetings on weekend and meeting with client every alternate weekend.
Resources and Challenges
On the financial front, they have been bootstrapped till now. Dev adds that to make the organization financially sustainable, they need dedicated partner organizations who could mentor and fund them. Shiva adds, “Our long term goal remains to make CSG a self-sustainable model.”
Highlighting their biggest challenge, Dev tells us that, at this point, it is to ensure skill development and training for the student team. With the influx of new recruits every year and outflow of graduating students entering the professional pool, it is essential to maintain a fine balance between the pools and ensure knowledge transfer and skill development sessions.
The duo tells us that there is a general excitement in the student community to experience consulting and solve real world problems. Getting a peak into the real world is an eye opener for students. It also helps them make informed career choices. Dev and Shiva hope that they can add more volunteers who have relevant work experience in the social or corporate space.
The duo’s big dream is to create a ‘Dalberg’ for small NGOs and social start-ups. A model that will involve professionals and students, coming together to take India’s developmental problems head on.