“India, today needs a stronger social empathy build-out. Over time, we’ve moved away from living in a society to living in an economy,” says Atul Satija, Founder of The/Nudge Foundation, and presently, the Chief Business Advisor at InMobi. The/Nudge Foundation, as Atul puts it, is a social organisation that works towards ‘nudging’ people out of poverty.
India, he says, has the highest number of poor people in the world and there is a need to bring in sustainable forms of poverty alleviation. In order to do so, the foundation believes that it is important to build a strong 360-degree skills training. Atul says that there are several organisations and groups that focus on education and skill training, but this does not ensure lifetime alleviation from poverty.
Citing an example, Atul says a driver happened to meet with a serious accident once. He was hospitalised for months and didn’t have a continuous source of income to pay his bills. He had to sell of his fleet of cars that he had painstakingly built. “He had no accident insurance nor enough savings,” adds Atul.
Today, while there is focus on providing livelihood skills to people, more needs to be done, feels Atul. “Most people hop from one job to another, and, in some cases, even lack work ethics and motivation. This leads to them jumping from one low paying job to the next,” he adds.
While Atul was the Chief Revenue Officer at InMobi, he knew he wanted to do something in the social space. His first tryst with social entrepreneurship started at EndPoverty, where he began as a volunteer and went ahead to become the chairman. It was at EndPoverty that Atul got all his firsthand training at solving grassroot issues.
“Initially, when I started, I focused on the education sector as I believed education is required to understand the importance of healthcare. My teammates were, however, insistent on health camps. As the village EndPoverty had adopted there were rampant cases of women suffering from blindness at an early age due to lack of vitamins in their diet. So I agreed. It was an indescribable feeling to witness a woman opening her eyes and seeing light after 25 years,” says Atul.
He adds that with education it takes years of trust to get people to send girls to school but healthcare is different. It works as a great opening ground for people to lay their trust on you.
Thus, backing on his experience and passion towards the social space, Atul began The/Nudge Foundation. Arun Seth, ex-Chairman, BT & Alcatel-Lucent, who is an advisor to the foundation, says,
Seeing how skill-deficit we are, especially at the grey-collar level, I believe that opportunity is the only way to pull India out of poverty in our lifetime; but it is one of the biggest unsolved issues. The/Nudge Foundation is focusing on the right areas with the right aspiration. I am excited by the possibilities, not just for the social sector, but for the economy as well.”
With Nudge, Atul intends to open ‘gurukul’-like systems that will provide complete soft-skill training to impoverished individuals. Atul says that just imparting or training people in hard skills won’t help, as people who do not get a chance to have a formal education have missed out on close to 15 years of social skills training and other much required soft skills.
Hailing from very different backgrounds, they’ve seen life in a different light. We have understood the basic sanitation and hygiene factors, which they haven’t. It would be unfair on our part to expect them to learn these skills without training them on all the soft skills that we have received in our 15 years of school life,” says Atul.