Over 1 million women micro entrepreneurs in Maharashtra got linked to nationwide online market through partnership with Amazon Saheli. Over 150 volunteers came together to desilt dams which will result in 52 lakh litres of groundwater being recharged and in addition to enhancing 10,57,285 litres of surface water during monsoon.
Enabling these and many transformation across the state of Maharashtra is ‘Sahabhag’ – the nodal government platform for Maharashtra’s Corporate Social Responsibility. An initiative of the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Office, Sahabhag has been envisaged as an inclusive platform, for collaboration and contribution towards development in Maharashtra and has ensured enhanced private sector participation through co-ordination with the government and non-governmental organisations to nurture development in the State.
Priya Khan, Officer on Special Duty to Hon. Chief Minister of Maharashtra, “At Sahabhag we believe in building effective partnerships to achieve scale and depth of impact required to catalyse substantial change. Moving from transactional to transformational mindset to enable not just Corporate Social Responsibility, but ‘Community Social Responsibility’. “
How the government enables sustainable development of businesses and communities through strategic partnership and support
In the developing world, governments and businesses understand that their respective competitive positions and access to capital increasingly depend on being able to respect the highest global standards. At one end of the spectrum, CSR can be viewed simply as a collection of good citizenship activities being engaged by various organizations. At the other end, it is a way of doing business resulting in a significant impact on community and long-term sustainability. Partnership is more than just collaboration on ad-hoc projects. It is about moving beyond responsibility for independent results to a relationship that involves co-creation, shared risk and responsibilities, interdependency, and organizational transformation. True partnership is about identifying shared value and leveraging the combined strengths of each partner to achieve a level of impact that could not be accomplished independently. Different sectors are increasingly understanding sustainability, citizens, and markets in the same way. Through the lens of shared value, business can identify opportunities in addressing social problems. It represents coming together of market potential, societal demands, and policy action to create more sustainable and inclusive path to economic growth, prosperity, and well-being.
Sahabhag enables this through its unique model of ‘Discuss-Design-Deliver’. As a nodal government platform for Maharashtra’s Corporate Social Responsibility it ensures smoother co-ordination between multi-stakeholders and enables sustainable development of business and communities. Established accounting and monitoring frameworks which helps channelise the existing CSR activities and those in pipeline. Support is provided to all stakeholders through a single window to ensure compliance, clarity and continuance in developmental schemes. To ensure sustainability timely evaluation and course correction is conducted.
Convergence and why it makes all the difference
Sahabhag also follows a demand driven approach, where the needs and requirements of intended beneficiaries are matched to resources, which could be in form of CSR support and government schemes. The need assessment is mapped through village development plan, field visits and subsequently a plan of action is created in consultation with district administration. The integrated village development project is then facilitated by Sahabhag A key example here is the work done in Palghar district. At Palghar, TATA Motors and Bharat Agro Industries Foundation came together to promote livelihood, education, health and nutrition and water and sanitation in the district, impacting 796 households. In addition, JM Financial and Deepak Foundation have reached out to 1108 households with a focus on improving the marginalized, rural and tribal communities. Applauding the government’s proactiveness, Vinod Kulkarni CSR Head Tata Motors, says, “We thought that dealing with government would be slow and tiring but they have been very forthcoming and at times even better than private sector initiatives. Sahabhag initiative is what every state government should have.” Puja Dave Associate Director and CSR Head, JM Financial Limited, echoes similar experience and say how the government’s involvement through Sahabhag has helped to strengthen the impact. “Sahabhag has always been there for us physically or have supported with facts and figures. Working closely with the government has brought about an immense difference that we intended to do with the communities in Maharashtra.“
Sahabhag in association with Internshala launched ‘Government of Maharashtra Internship Program’ to facilitate internships for youth & services to departments. This partnership will help the youth across the state, access opportunities to intern with government administration. The administration will benefit from knowledge, skills, youthful energy & fresh perspectives of the youth.
A perfect partnership to foster 'Inclusive Governance'. Partnering with Samhita Social Ventures and Water and Sanitation Support Organisation- Department of Water Supply & Sanitation, Govt. of Maharashtra has also strengthened WASH ecosystem in state. One example of this partnership is, 'The Swachh Maharashtra Grand Challenge' is a first-of-its-kind open innovation platform set up in partnership with a Government, corporate and social sector to identify, implement, nurture & replicate highly innovative, effective, scalable and sustainable sanitation projects.
Providing market linkages to rural artisans
A key focus area for Sahabhag has been to mobilise the state’s youth, map urban demand with rural supply, and provide forward market linkages to rural artisans. And, Sahabhag has worked towards achieving this through many initiatives.
Today, thanks to Sahabhag’s involvement, over 1 million women micro entrepreneurs in Maharashtra, supported by various government boards such as Mahila Arhik Vikas Mahamandal, Maharashtra State Khadi & Village Industries Board and Maharashtra Small Scale Industries Development Corporation, have been linked to nationwide online market through partnership Amazon Saheli. This has enabled increase in household incomes and savings. Sneha Bhalerao Manager, Ghee Bharari CMRC, Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal, Mahila E-Ugyojika, says, “Today, about 100-150 of our products are available online on Amazon. Giving women self-help groups direct market linkage has been a big leap for us.”
Another example includes facilitating urban market place at Kala Ghoda festival for rural artisans part of Bamboo Research and Training Centre, Tribal Development Department, Maharashtra State Khadi & Village Industries Board, Maharashtra Small Scale Industries Development Corporation and Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal. Taking learnings from last year, the agencies were able to achieve 5x growth. The Government of Maharashtra’s active involvement has meant that the infrastructure cost for artisans is zero, while they get to keep all the earnings as well. The costs of setting up a stall, designing, packaging and marketing it are being borne by Sahabhag’s partners, which include corporates (through their CSR funds), as well as government bodies such as Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation.
Encouraging volunteering to drive impact
Sahabhag also strives to facilitate innovative multi-stakeholder collaboration through volunteering. Sahabhag organized ‘Shramotsav @ Pathardi’, a unique volunteering activity for citizens to do social good through ‘Shramdaan’. Through this activity 150 volunteers over two weeks engaged in activities like desilting of dams and painting of anganwadis. Through this activity 52 lakh litres of groundwater will be recharged and an additional storage capacity of 10,57,285 litres of surface water during monsoon, which is equivalent to the capacity of 1,762 water tankers. Other volunteering activities include partnering with St. Xavier’s College Mumbai to connect student interns, researchers and government agencies for various projects, helping tap the vast potential of 4,500 young minds to accelerate development process. Students from Vivekanada Society Institute of Management (VESIM) volunteered with Sahabhag to impart soft skills, marketing and sales training to women self-help groups. Their participation in Kala Ghoda Arts Festival was beneficial and appreciated by all stakeholders.
Taking the lead
Going forward, Sahabhag aims to disseminate best practices and serve as ‘Ideal Model’ nationwide for social responsibility. So far, it has successfully shown how simplifying the process of partnering with the government in developmental activities can lead to ‘inclusive governance’ and induce the spirit of community development and civic partnership amongst the citizens of the state. But, that’s not all, it is breaking social barriers as well. In fact, the state budget was presented in sign language. Yogesh Desai CEO, Helen Keller Institute of Deaf and DeafBlind, says, “Team Sahabhag helped us to present state budget in sign language, this was first time in the history of government of Maharashtra.”
The Team constitutes of young Chief Minister’s Fellows part of the Chief Minister Fellowship Program. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra is keen on incorporating fresh ideas in governance and has continually encouraged youth to come forward and contribute in nation building.
Hon. CM Devendra Fadnavis said, “We are happy that all the stakeholders are coming together to through CMO’s Sahabhag to bring change. With such efforts we can change social indicators in very short span and importantly this association can create a template to replicate in other districts.”