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Apologies for the delay dear TC-P readers. Here’s a quick round-up of what you may have missed:

Pakistan Updates: 

Opportunities: 

Interesting Reads: 

Interested in contributing to ThinkChange Pakistan? Don’t be shy, write to us and let us know!

This week, ThinkChange Pakistan looks at Rabtt, an innovative voluntary youth organization that brings students and mentors from different classes of society in an effort to promote independent and critical thinking in Lahore.

The Rabtt team organizes a 2-3 week camp every summer where their team of volunteers teaches low-income children  English, Mathematics, Physics, along with Critical Thinking, Drawing and Drama. What makes Rabtt special is that while majority of non-profit education-related ventures focus on basic service-delivery, Rabtt has chosen to concentrate on creating civic-minded, and independent thinkers.

Rabtt, which literally means ‘connection’ in Urdu was founded by two LUMS graduates, Aneeq and Imran to get students thinking about their identity outside of the prescribed curriculum, as well as motivate them to achieve, and do more.

By teaching various disciplines through an analytical approach, Rabtt aims to create “good learners”. The camp stresses on the importance of giving students room to interpret presented information and express their opinions. These instances can be as simple as allowing them to solve a Math problem their own way, or as exciting as introducing to them the tenets of Capitalism and Communism and asking them to analyze, debate and compare.

What makes Rabtt’s teaching methodology more effective from routine public school classes is also the smaller class size. The student to teacher ratio is 20:1 where as in public schools it can go up to 50:1. “We set the number of students in accordance with the number of instructors we recruit, and the resources we have. More than the number of beneficiaries, it is the quality of the impact we are able to deliver that is important to us” says Hammad, the social media director of Rabtt.

The camp’s students are selected on the basis of a pre-camp diagnostic, which is administered to roughly 50 children. The pre-camp diagnostic is a test of basic mathematics, English and logic. It is both a measure of the student’s ability, as well as an effective monitoring and evaluation tool.

Currently while the core Rabtt team is only comprised of four people, the organization has managed to develop a strong pool of volunteers (check out some photos of their team and volunteers here). Any one who is interested in volunteering, completes the form on their website. The Rabtt team then interviews the prospective volunteer, and upon selection, trains him/her regarding the assigned role.

Rabtt’s fund raising strategy has largely been focused on fostering solid relationships with organizations that share it’s mission and purpose. Hammad elaborates:

“The first step for Rabtt was to identify the target audience for its educational camps, and be very clear about what value these camps will add to the educational experience of the students. Once that was established, the Rabtt team approached like-minded individuals and organizations for support. Our aim was, and is, to make longstanding partnerships with like-minded organizations…The thrust of the fundraising campaign was, hence, not as much focused on brand promotion for the different organizations we targeted but more so on combined values and vision”.

One of Rabtt’s first supporters was Akhuwat, a micro-finance organization that provides interest free loans to the poor. Other organizations Rabtt focused on was different publishers and book houses that directly cater to the school children Rabtt aimed to work with.

“One of the biggest challenges in the beginning was to build credibility with these organizations…Trust is hard to gain when an organization is still in its developing stages”. The Rabtt team organized a number of in-person meetings and presentations to help gather the support needed for Rabtt to hold its first summer camp. “But now, within a year, we have successfully conducted three camps, have a growing pool of volunteers and  a clear direction that we can present to our supporters”.

Rabtt is now working to grow in terms of curriculum development, and program sustainability.  The team is working to standardize the content of the curriculum, and improve it based on student feedback. It also aims to establish a steady follow-up program to remain in touch with the summer camp ‘graduates’ and continue to contribute towards their personal and academic development.

If you are interested in keeping up with Rabtt, go ahead and like their Facebook page and follow their blog.

For more educated-related posts on TC-P, check out:

Hussain Bandukwala’s Q&A with the Design for Change (DFC) Pakistan team

VEFA Pakistan: Using Virtual Ed to Reach Students in Need

Thinking about Mobile Technology in Pakistan’s Classrooms 

What a week for #socent!

  • Our very own Kalsoom Lakhani is at the Skoll World Forum, representing her company, Invest2Innovate. Follow discussions on the conference on the #skollwf hashtag.
  • Saad Amanullah Khan has written in the Express Tribune about the need for social entrepreneurship in Pakistan.
  • BLISS is looking for interns! Deadline: 31st March, so apply now!

The P@SHA Fund for Social Innovation recently announced its first round of winners. In the coming weeks, TC-P will be highlighting these innovative projects which aim to use technology to meet social needs in education, culture, medicine, environmental or any other community problem. This week TC-P sits down with Waqas Ali, the brains behind Hometown Shoes, an online store that connects local artisans directly to consumers.

A native of Lahore, Waqas first came up with the idea of Homemade Shoes during a conversation with M. Hussain in his village, Basirpur in Okara District. Hussain had a small business of handmade leather shoes, and would sell his product to big brand shoe stores. Unfortunately while the large chains would make a high profit margin, Hussain would make very little. “I asked him why don’t we sell using the internet and offered my help” says Waqas, “But we couldn’t get started right away because not having seed funding, and recently we finally made it through the P@SHA Social Fund.”

Hometown Shoes will currently be targeting consumers in Lahore only but hope to expand to Punjab and then, the rest of the country. Currently, the Hometown Shoes team is busy with production and fine-tuning their website. Towards the end of March, they will be organizing an exhibition of handmade crafts in Lahore. Don’t miss it!

When asked how he sees Hometown Shoes expanding, Waqas responds, “We are reaching out to other local artisans to add a variety of handmade leather products like handbags, wallets and belts. So there is a lot that is still to be found and work on. We are very excited about what is ahead for us”.

To follow Hometown Shoes progress, subscribe to their blog. You can also follow them on twitter and like them on Facebook. If you missed TC-P’s original post on the P@SHA Fund for social innovation, check it out here.

Hi all! Here’s a quick round-up for stuff #socent people like. If we have missed anything, e-mail us or let us know in your comments!

#Pakistan:

Opportunities:

  • Association for the Development of Pakistan (ADP) is currently looking for a volunteer Social Media Manager. For details, check out their website.

Resources:

Dear TC-P readers, here’s what you may have missed in the world of #socent in the past couple of weeks. If WE have missed anything, do let us know in your comments.

#Pakistan updates:

Events:

Opportunities:

Resources:

  • A new report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, in collaboration with the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship looks into how social entrepreneurship is redefining the meaning of return.
  • IDEO released a free innovation guide for social enterprises and NGOs working worldwide. Have a look and let us know what you think!

Did you know?

It’s ThinkChange Pakistan’s first birthday next week? If you like what we do, and want to help out, write to us! Also, don’t forget to check out our updated social enterprise list. A big thank you to everyone who completed our social enterprise form!

2012 promises to be a good year for BLISS, says Saba Gul, the Co-Founder & Executive Director of BLISS, Business & Life Skills School. Below Saba writes about BLISS’s new partnership with Sughar Women and her recent visit to their vocational training center in Thatta, Sindh.  This post first appeared on the BLISS blog. 

We’re starting off the new year with some thrilling news: BLISS is scaling to Mirpur Sakro, Thatta in the Southern province of Sindh, where we will start working with 100 women and girls. Thatta was badly affected by the 2010 floods, with devastating effects on livelihoods.

Our executing partner on the ground is Sughar – a program of PDI(Participatory Development Initiatives), founded by the indomitable Khalida Brohi, also an Unreasonable fellow in 2010.

This past weekend, I visited Sughar’s vocational center in Mirpur Sakro, accompanied by Khalida, Jeremy Higgs, Manager of Operations for EcoEnergy Finance, and a dear friend Seher Suleman (who shares with the rest of us a hunger to change the world).

A 3 hour ride from Karachi, much of it on a dirt road with agricultural wasteland on either side, brought us to a large wooden shed that served as Sughar’s vocational center for the village. Men and women from the village filed in with smiles on their faces.

The women were thrilled to be able to showcase their work, which was so beautiful that Seher and I couldn’t resist whipping out whatever cash we had to buy some of it off of them right there and then. While none of them spoke Urdu, Khalida patiently translated everything they said.

In conversations with the women, I found out that none of the girls in the village were enrolled in school beyond the age of 12. The main reason seemed to be a lack of female teachers, without which it was culturally unacceptable for the girls to attend school. The teachers had been sent/appointed by the government, and repeated requests to send female teachers had been ignored. The other reason was early marriages — most girls were married off by the time they were 15. We visited the only school in the village, with one classroom that was used for both boys and girls attending all grades.

Jeremy had a fascinating conversation with the men about selling solar lamps to them, since the village didn’t have electricity. We exchanged some laughs as the men told a story about how their mobile phones were taken to the nearby city every week by one of them to be charged. The women jumped in as soon as Jeremy asked what difficulties the village faced without electricity, all talking at the same time. They wanted to have lights for cooking, feeding their children, doing household chores. Their lives had to be paused from sunset to sunrise.

A few of the men wanted the solar lamps for free, even though the monthly installments Jeremy had worked out for them equalled the amount they spent on kerosene every month. Notwithstanding the fact that the lamp would be theirs to own in 8 months, that they would never have to pay for kerosene again, and that the lamps were far superior to kerosene in terms of the light they produced as well as safety and health-wise. But too many NGOs had come and gone and offered free solutions that didn’t last beyond a few months. Free was still attractive.

Jeremy did succeed in striking a deal with the men, and now has an order from a neighboring village as well.

I left the village as I had left Attock almost two years ago — a little heartbroken at the limited resources this community had available to them, but really excited about the opportunity this presented for BLISS.

I can’t wait for us to work with these women! And with Khalida, someone whose work I’ve admired since I first met her last year. Here’s to new beginnings — 2012 promises to be a good year!

Happy Monday! Here’s our bi-weekly round-up of stuff #socent people like. Enjoy!

Events:

Opportunities:

Resources:

  • ATTN: policy makers and implementers: Read this important article on how public administrators could (and need to) be the future of social innovation in the world. Imagine the possibilities in Pakistan!
  • Here’s a handy list of 15 social venture capital firms you should know about!

Some advice:

  • An important round-up by Sasha Dicter of 20 questions every fundraiser must be able to answer.
  • “Accelerators offer hands-on help from experienced mentors, sources for seed capital, and sometimes even co-working locations, and give entrepreneurs what they need to take a startup from concept to market more quickly and effectively than if they go it alone” – Lydia Dishman from Fast Company gives you some tips on how to get connected.

Is social entrepreneurship in Pakistan restricted to the realm of the Western-educated elite, or can we find traces of it in our local culture? TC-P Contributor, Favad Soomro in his guest piece below explores ‘Aadhiyari’, a fascinating indigenous social investment model found in rural Sindh. 

Working in rural areas has its charms. You not only get to see the serene landscape and enjoy the hospitality of people, you also come across things which you normally don’t find in books. Rural markets, though very rudimentary in many ways, offer certain unique opportunities and surely micro entrepreneurs step up to exploit those and create value in their own context.

During one of routine visits to interior Sindh, while in conversation with Khadim Hussain, Sales Manager of Micro Drip – a social enterprise selling low-cost drip irrigation systems, I came to know about a very interesting social investment model. Khadim said that he invests in his native village’s economy to create social impact while earning handsome return on his money. His village near Mehrabpur in District Naushero Feroze is a typical rural village where the economy is dominated by agriculture and livestock. He said that he invests in ‘Aadhiyari’: a livestock investment model practiced widely in rural Sindh. I probed more and here is what I found out:

 The Model

Aadhiyari or Aadhiyaro (from the word Aadha or Adh meaning half) model works on principle of equal sharing between partners. Investors like Khadim provide capital to skilled resources in rural economy who know how to raise livestock but don’t have enough resources of their own. They are typically the laborers or landless farmers. Investor only provides seed money which is used in purchase of very young livestock. The partner, let’s call him the service provider, takes the custody of livestock, feeds it and helps it grow through his own resources. Typically, the investment for smaller livestock like goats is for nine months to a couple of years. At the end of the stipulated period, the livestock and its off-spring is sold in the market. Investor and service provider take their original investments out first and the rest of proceeds are shared equally between the investor and the service provider. The value is generated in raising the livestock which fetches pretty handsome prices in semi-urban or urban markets.

 

The return for investor alone ranges any where from 50 to 100% depending upon the duration of investment. This information of course is based on non-documented sources and must be discounted.

 Breaking it Down

There is a variety of motivation at play here. Investor invests to earn good return on capital. Very few do it to increase money supply in rural economy and create a social impact. In some cases, poor households, having some livestock of their own, get into the arrangement to raise working capital in short run. The motivation however does not change the rules of the game.

Like any other investment, the model carries its own set of risks. It is entirely based on social arrangements. No formal agreements are signed and in case of a conflict, arbitration is done through social arrangements. Other risks include death and disease of livestock. The coverage of veterinary services in rural Pakistan is pretty poor and poses this inherent risk in its full magnitude. Another risk relates to the security as we see theft of livestock a common crime. However, it seems that certain equilibrium has been achieved in our social context and investors are not really shy of taking on these risks, making Aadhiyari a thriving business. As I found out later, this model is in practice in Punjab also where it is known as Bhaiwali. I am sure it will be in practice in rest of Pakistan and with our shared history, in some form in rural India as well.

 A Social Enterprise? Perhaps

If we analyze this model, on surface it looks well suited to our rural economy. Each player is engaged in a role that suits him the best. But is it sustainable? Is it scalable? It surely does not treat Bottom of Pyramid as consumers. It is more in line with social enterprises, like BLISS, which eventually make the Bottom of Pyramid a ‘producer’. It also has similarities to microfinance with a difference that in this case, investment is made in the form of micro-equity rather than micro-lending. This aspect of sharing in profits gives this model a religious tint, bringing it in line with Islamic mode of finance.

 The potential of such micro-equity investments in rural development can be significant. If coupled with good veterinary services and capacity building in livestock management, it can help increase income levels of landless farmers. A structured approach can mitigate risks and make this indigenous arrangement into a formal development strategy. After all Grameen Bank, and microfinance in general, was also established providing formal structure to economic arrangements already in place in Bangladesh’s social context.

About the TC-P Contributor: Favad Soomro works for promoting water conservation technologies in agriculture sector in Pakistan. A business graduate with experience in agriculture input supply chain, he is trying to figure out his and social entrepreneurship’s place in Pakistan’s development maze.

Word cloud generated from TC-P Top Social Enterprise Survey responses

On December 2011, #socent buffs in Pakistan voted for their favorite social enterprise through TC-P’s Pakistan’s Top Social Enterprises in 2011 survey. Here’s what we learned:

Naya Jeevan:  Pakistan’s Top Social Enterprise

An overwhelming majority voted for Naya Jeevan, a not-for profit social enterprise that provides low-income families with access to catastrophic healthcare through their unique micro-insurance program. Founded in 2007 by Asher Hasan, the organization is currently headquartered in Karachi.

Incidentally one of TC-P’s first #socent spotlights was on Naya Jeevan. For a more detailed insight into the organizations, have a look at our Q&A with founder, Asher Hasan here.

2011 has been a great year for Naya Jeevan. In the past one year, the organization has quadrupled its number of beneficiaries. The total beneficiaries now enrolled in Naya Jeevan health plan is 15,300. New clients that have come onboard include:

  • Pakistan International Container Terminal Limited
  • Philip Morris
  • Alucan Pakistan (Pvt), Alu Pak Pakistan (Pvt)
  • HRSG Outsourcing
  • Philips Pakistan
  • CinePax (Box Office)
  • FM 91
  • Abu Dawood Trading Co, Pakistan
  • Indus Pharma
  • DHA Services

Founder and CEO, Asher Hasan was also awarded World Economic Forum/Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 and the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship.

In addition to expanding its client base and continuing to receive global recognition, Naya Jeevan initiated two very promising projects:

NGO Schools: Philanthropic Model

The project is a pilot to compare health insurance to managed healthcare in NGO schools across Pakistan. Currently 7,309 NGO school children are enrolled in either an indemnity or managed healthcare plan across the country. Some participating schools are Manzil School in Karachi,  Zindagi Trust’s ‘I Am Paid to Learn’ schools, SOS Village, DIL schools in Khairpur, Mashal School in Islamabad and Sweet Home Foundation.

 Artpreneurs for Change

Naya Jeevan is currently running an initiative called “Artpreneurs for Change” to help children with disabilities enroll in the Naya Jeevan managed care health plan. The project is a collaborative effort between Naya Jeevan, NOWPDP (Network of Organizations Working With People With Disabilities in Pakistan), Fulbright alumni and art therapists. Seed funding was given by the US State Department as a part of the first ever Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF). The project aims at running art therapy classes in three schools for children with disabilities (Dar-ul-Sakoon, ACELP, and Ida Rieu) and to use auction proceeds from the resulting artwork to raise awareness and funds for the healthcare of these children.

Your Responses

Kashf Foundation, Pakistan’s premier microfinance institution was voted as the next top social enterprise of 2011. It was recognized by voters as having the most community outreach and social impact in rural Pakistan. Read TC-P’s detailed piece on the foundation here.

While Kashf Foundation and Naya Jeevan have been consistent #socent faves in Pakistan, we we were happy to see some voters point towards some of the newer or lesser known initiatives as well:

About Pharmagen:

Pharmaceutical drugs in developing countries is an important issue, and I’m glad there are organizations like Pharmagen out there that seek to maintain a bare minimum quality of drugs available to the public. As far as I hear, they’re doing a good job at what they do.

About Jassar Farms:

(Reason for voting for Jassar Farms): Potential social impact. Huge in my opinion – far greater than others. It’ll enable BoP to create value through ‘more’ productive assets and increase income levels. Investments in education, health, housing will surely follow then in a more sustainable manner.

About Participatory Development Initiatives:

Ideological affinity with concept of participatory development. Especially impressed with PDI’s initiative on land rights; not aware of any other local organizations working on this very crucial issue.

Thank you once again to all those who participated in our survey. Your feedback helps us highlight the work of these great innovative organizations and encourage the social entrepreneurship space in Pakistan. If you have suggestions regarding which social enterprises to highlight in 2012, write to us

 

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