Last year my approach to this project can be termed "Trial and Error" ;) There was a lot of trying - diverse trying - and a whole lot of error and non-outcomes (although I will admit that I learnt quickly from our mistakes, and made sure not to repeat them!). This year our project is benefiting from a few different things:
- Knowledge of Community: Our rapport with the community as well as our knowledge of community dynamics, have both grown tremendously over the last year or more; we have completed 15-16 months of the project by now.
- Removing our "blinkers": We have expanded the scope of our project. We are now willing to carry out small interventions that may not directly involve entrepreneurship development (i.e. training, skilling, creating financial linkages, and incubating entrepreneurs) but build awareness, capacity, and various supplementary institutions that in turn, strengthen the community's capacity to nurture entrepreneurship among its members.
- Word of Mouth: Our own network has grown. The striking visual that our project building creates against the backdrop of the large, sprawling urban slum community with which we work, draws a lot of interest. There are few community development projects in the city, so we draw a lot of people who are eager to help and participate, and who in turn send others to us. This includes friends, researchers, retired public sector officials, senior administrative staff from our network of organisations.. a lot of professional help and ideas.
- Mentor, a big mentor: We have been supported tremendously by Centurion University (which has incubated this project and signed the agreement with the government) in allowing us use of their human resources - accountant, security guard, errand boys, office furniture and fixtures.... just so much, so much stuff that adds to an infinite amount of overhead expense.
The following is a presentation that I prepared for some private funders (for CSR support) and for the State Government of Odisha (as they are one of our primary stakeholders). This summarizes our project approach and plans for 2014, and shows how even our overall vision has become more refined. We have broadened our work to target children and youth, rather than just women, but the kinds of activities we have started this year are focused and streamlined. Here's hoping that this allows for greater social impact over 2014-2015.