17.5 lakh cr philanthropy money spent in the social space in 2021.
12% annual growth expected for the next 5 years.
20 lakh social enterprises in India.
But average surplus per month (income less expenses) in rural India still stands at around 1K which also withers because of their debt cycle.
These are some numbers I pulled from the zillion reports out there on the world wide web. I think the writing is out there… amply … so I am not going to dwell much on the macro data.
Let me just focus closer home and talk micro and I am quite sure that the story’s very similar in other parts of the country.
There’s crores being spent by the Govt and private philanthropy over the years. There are organisations in the region who have been working with communities for 30+ years but the communities are still struggling in terms of livelihood. There are impact goals and subsequent celebrations for a mere 4K / month income generation. There are also daunting impact numbers of “10000 lives impacted”, “working with 150 villages” and so on.
I must add that this post isn’t to criticise but to question the status-quo and the methods. I concur that there has been some tremendous visioning behind these efforts which I respect and I believe we need efforts in multiple layers for the needle to move. But, maybe there’s a fundamental shift needed in the coming years to do more with less, to expedite the change journey?
I have observed that we have often measured impact by quantity or volume which means the focus has mostly been “how many lives”. Maybe we need to change that focus to qualitative which means “how well have we impacted these lives”?
Instead of working towards impacting 10000 lives with a <4K / month (inconsistent) income generation, maybe we should work towards impacting just 100 lives with a 40K / month (guaranteed) income? This will catalyse the real change in underserved communities - children will get better education, health & nutrition will improve, debt situation will change, there will be more focus on the future v/s just present survival.
If each of the social enterprises in the livelihoods space had this charter and we simultaneously worked towards increasing this pool of social enterprises to cover the length and breadth of rural india, wouldn’t the economic equity increase?
Something to ponder upon? Are there already answers? Else, thoughts?