New Delhi: The Asian Venture Philanthropist Network (AVPN) the Pan-Asian social investment network, hosted its maiden India Policy Forum, themed Aspirational Districts: Roadmap for Collaboration for Impact, in the capital this month.
The India Policy Forum was held at the U-Chicago Centre in New Delhi, which kicked off with a keynote address from Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog and witnessed the participation of several key stakeholders including inter alia Prof. S V Subramanian, Harvard University; Dr. Shamika Ravi, Brookings India; Rai Mahimapat Ray, Deputy Commissioner Office, Ranchi District; Naghma Mulla, EdelGive Foundation; Abhishek Gupta, Dept. of Technical Education & School Education, Government of Delhi; Anjali Nayyar, Global Health Strategies; Pradeep Nair, Ford Foundation; Samik Sundar Das, World Bank and Rohan Sandhu, International Innovation Corps.
In his keynote address at the AVPN India Policy Forum 2018, Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog reinforced the Government of India’s commitment to improve key development indicators in Aspirational Districts, and said, “Policy Forums like these provide a platform for policy makers, investors and philanthropic organizations to come together and collaborate for transformation.
NITI Aayog will welcome and support any such initiatives for collaboration with the Government to address the Aspirational Districts.”
“India is developing at a remarkable pace. We are seeing next-generation philanthropists rising as leaders to create systemic change, growing impact investing and ESG markets, and impressive potential in CSR investments and development impact bonds,” said Naina Subberwal Batra, CEO and Chairperson, AVPN. “However, more needs to be done to develop the capacity of social purpose organisations – social enterprises and NGOs – who are facing human capital challenges. Moreover, with this influx of capital across multiple sectors, we have to ensure that resources are being pooled effectively towards positive impact at an ecosystem level. With these in mind, AVPN is working to build avenues for co-investments and cross-sector partnerships to solve these challenges,” she added.
At the Policy Forum, the ‘Aspirational Districts Data Booklet’ prepared by Harvard University with support from Tata Trusts was unveiled for the first time, by Rakesh Ranjan, Advisor, NITI Aayog. Prof. S V Subramanian of Harvard University talked about ‘Data Science and Impact’ and introduced the data around aspirational districts during his session.
“This study is an example of how the public sector can leverage big data to drive grassroots initiatives at not only the state and district levels, but also the village level,” said Prof. Subramanian. “The booklets being released are a key tool for policymakers and social investors as they shape their development activities across the country,” said Prof. Subramanian.
The Policy Forum also marked the launch of the first and only digital platform – Asia Policy Forum Exchange (APFx) – that provides action-oriented opportunities for social investors to engage in public-private initiatives. Policy initiatives, including those around the aspirational districts, will be able to showcase their development needs on the digital portal, thereby allowing AVPN to facilitate connections between these projects and potential funding organizations or CSR initiatives.
Following the Policy Forum, AVPN hosted its 2nd India Summit. This day-long conference was kick started with a keynote address by Mr. Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Aarin Capital.
Delivering his remarks at the AVPN India Summit in New Delhi, Mr. Pai said, “Social investment in India should focus on execution and scale of social programs to empower youth and invest in human capital, ensure access to housing, health and education for all, and protect rights of women and children, achieving sustainable development and making India a role model for the world.” He urged social investors to “Come forward and invest in the Aspirational Districts program of India for accelerated development of some of the most backward regions of India.”
Naina Subberwal Batra launched AVPN’s latest resource, a two-part Sustainable Livelihoods Report that highlights the demand and supply sides of the funding landscape. Alongside research partners, Ennovent India and Catalyst Foundation, the report identifies key funding trends and challenges from the investors and investees’ perspectives. These findings, in turn, inform potential investors on how they can leverage opportunities and best practices in the sector.
On the demand side, the findings of the study revealed that with the rise in unemployment, 127 million people will require skill training by 2022. In addition, craftspeople and/or artisans, who are critical to a non-farm rural economy, face an absence of avenues for scaling up their businesses. The study further found that initiating a dialogue on creating mass entrepreneurs can help add over 110 million jobs by 2040.
Key findings from the study:
The agricultural sector suffers from low productivity and poor price realization for farmers: Agriculture employed 64% of the total rural workforce who produced only 39% of the total rural output (in monetary terms) during the year 2011-12
Non-agricultural activities are increasing, especially in the services and construction sectors, but worker productivity is not increasing: This is attributable to lack of training, inadequate infrastructure and disorganized frameworks for employment engagement
About 3/4th of the investors are not selective about geography and are open to working across India. On the type of rural-urban focus, about 50% of investors are agnostic for deploying their funding, 23% focused exclusively on rural areas, and none exclusively on urban areas
About 60% of investors are gender agnostic in their focus and work on strategies that address the need of communities; 40% of the investors have a clear gender lens while deciding investment and target communities, focusing on women
Majority of the investors preferred a combination of farm, rural non-farm, and urban informal sectors for investing. A few were inclined towards skill development, particularly vocational skill development
Arising from the findings of the studies were the following recommendations:
Funders must facilitate a collaborative atmosphere in the sustainable livelihoods space
There is an urgent need for the building of market linkages for producers
Project targets should not be changed continually so that the implementer has a steady goal to work towards
There is a need for substantial investment in entrepreneurship training and creation of institutions, particularly those providing access to finance and technology
There is a need for a comprehensive set of publicly available ‘impact measures’ in the sustainable livelihood domain for the funders and investors to choose from
Consistent investments in agricultural livelihoods deserves attention as the agriculture sector through inclusive supply chains offers a high impact potential.