Using Open Data to drive innovation, collaboration and change in India

Open Data has the potential to be a game-changing tool in poverty reduction and economic growth. The World Bank has been actively encouraging governments to become more transparent, more accountable to their citizens, less susceptible to corruption and better at delivering services.We often consult various partners – including governments, organizations and other implementers – on Open Data and its critical role in economic development and growth. The World Bank’s team of information and communication technology (ICT) and open data experts help explore the potential for forecasting national and global trends, while also unlocking opportunities for innovation and improved performance. These consultations serve as a crucial starting point in planning, implementation and correction of many government, private sector and civil society initiatives.

Since 2012, the Bank has organized a series of trainings on open data tools and online resources for users in government, economic research institutes, media, civil society, academia and the private sector. More than 3,000 stakeholders have been trained already in 10+ major cities of India. There is need to take this agenda forward especially in the low-income states where exposure to the Bank’s resources is lower.

Go to Source

Tags: , ,

An unlikely incubator for female social entrepreneurs in rural Asia: Libraries

“Being born a girl is worthless,” said Chuna Devi, a Nepalese woman. Because her family didn’t think her education was a priority, she grew up illiterate, herding goats and cows.

Women make up just 24 percent of the formal workforce in South Asia, according to the Wall Street Journal. That represents a huge untapped resource: 336 million women like Chuna could be contributing to their families’ incomes and lifting themselves out of poverty if they had the skills to do so.

Chuna is part of a solution to inequity and poverty that is taking root in some of South Asia’s most remote corners, and it begins with a simple but disruptive idea: going to the library.

For more than two million rural villagers across South Asia, libraries called “READ Centers” have already become a powerful platform for women like Chuna to learn skills, network in her community, and become leaders who change social norms.

At the age of 47, Chuna changed her and her daughters’ lives by learning to read and starting a women’s group. Today, her goal is to convince other women that it’s never too late to learn, earn an income, and change your community.

Watch a three-minute video of Chuna’s story.

Women play a vital role in poor households. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put it recently, “Empowering rural women is crucial for ending hunger and poverty. By denying women rights and opportunities, we deny their children and societies a better future.”

A recent UN study shows that if women were given the same access to productive resources as men, it would reduce the number of hungry people in the world by about 12-17 percent. Similarly, USAID stated that women are more likely than men to reinvest in their families’ food security, health, and education (see the infographic here).

Despite the obvious benefits, the road to entrepreneurship is extremely difficult for many women. They often lack the education and skills needed, and face gender discrimination. About 493 million women are illiterate worldwide: more than half of whom live in South Asia. These women rarely have the opportunity to learn at a young age. 130 million girls in South Asia will be married as children by 2030, ending their education and resulting in early pregnancies. As adults, these women often must seek permission from their husbands to leave their homes for reasons other than childcare or agricultural work.

In South Asia, libraries are seen as legitimate, neutral places for women to visit, because they often offer childcare and health services that benefit the family. The READ Centers set up by the non-profit READ Global also help women learn income-producing activities, such as sewing, beekeeping, or mushroom farming. When women learn a trade and start providing income to their families, their husbands often gain trust in the READ Center and give them more freedom. Women can become networked with a community of other women who provide mutual, ongoing support.

Literacy does not necessarily precede economic empowerment. But READ Global has found that these skill sets are mutually reinforcing, and together, they can empower women to change the status quo in their villages.

Just last year, more than 1,700 women like Chuna learned to read through READ Centers in Nepal. Many of them also joined savings cooperatives, often putting away money for the first time in their lives. With 3,339 peers, the women collectively saved $207,382 last year at READ Centers.

And many finally became entrepreneurs: 324 moved from subsistence farming to commercial farming – earning an income from agriculture for the first time. 174 women farmers actually became self-sufficient in their production for the first time, and almost 100 women launched new businesses.

With this new income, the women helped generate almost $140,000 to invest back into the READ Centers and sustain them.

A major challenge in rural development is that efforts often don’t take a holistic approach. Many organizations and government bodies work in a piecemeal fashion: They provide one-off literacy training to women in a community for a few months, for example, and then move on. The women will have taken a huge first step in self-empowerment by learning to read, but they won’t necessarily have the resources or the support network to apply or build on their new skill.

For women like Chuna, libraries like READ Centers can play the role of incubators – not just for businesses, but also for long-term social change. By working with local partners, setting up committees to manage the Centers, and providing a holistic set of training programs over the course of five years, READ Global ensures that rural villagers create local support networks that can sustain themselves in the future.

After Chuna learned to read, she had the confidence to take other trainings in vegetable farming, women’s leadership, health, and mobile technology. She then paid it forward by convincing her friends to join a study group with her, helping them learn to read, and investing in her own daughters’ education.

“I realized that all uneducated women suffer,” Chuna says, “There are a lot of illiterate women in Nepal. I want to tell them that you’re never too old to learn.”

Follow READ on Facebook or twitter @readglobal

Sara Litke is a Global Envision alumnus, and currently serves as marketing and communications manager for READ Global, an international nonprofit organization working in South Asia to provide education and economic opportunity to rural villagers. READ Global received the 2013 UPenn and Wharton School’s Lipman Family Prize, awarded to innovative organizations creating sustainable solutions to significant social and economic challenges.

Meet Chuna Devi, who learned to read at a local library in Nepal founded by READ Global, and went on to take trainings vegetable farming, women’s leadership, health, and mobile technology. She convinced her friends to join study groups, and many have started their own businesses. Photo courtesy READ Global.

Go to Source

Tags: , , , ,

What determines the performance of small enterprises in developing countries? Evidence from the handloom industry in Bangladesh

Family-based traditional microenterprises are abundant in developing countries, and in many cases they are a major source of income and employment for both urban and rural poor. With a few exceptions, however, most of these family-based traditional microenterprises in the rural areas of developing countries seldom grow in terms of enterprises’ size and product quality. Thus, they tend to perform poorly relative to their growth potentials. The development of these family-based microenterprises would be instrumental to employment generation, poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth in developing countries. Using primary data collected from the traditional handloom industry in Bangladesh, this paper inquires into the development process of family-based traditional microenterprises in developing countries. The paper empirically demonstrates that entrepreneurs’ general human capital acquired by formal education is critically important for the introduction of new and high value-added fashionable products, and, thus, performance of the enterprise.
Go to Source

Tags: , , ,

Innovation in Industrial Clusters: a Survey of Footwear Companies in Brazil

The aim of this study is to characterize the relationships in innovation and business clustering processes in the productive chain of small and medium enterprises (SME) of Brazil. The object of study are SMEs the local procuctive cluster of the shoes in Franca, State of São Paulo. The conceptual model developed is based on the following constructs: vertical integration, innovation and characteristics of the cluster, and it is focused on identifying the agents that act predominantly in product innovation processes in the cluster. A survey was conducted. It was found that there is cooperation between the companies in the productive arrangement studied, and that shoe manufacturers are those who, predominantly, stimulate innovation within the cluster.
Go to Source

Tags: , , , ,

The Incubation Process and the Strengthening of the Firm: a Study in Brazilian Companies

High mortality rate and an environment in constant change set up a context in which the search for innovation becomes essential to business’ longevity. Incubation has been proposed as an alternative to start-up companies, giving support for their development. Seeking to explore which characteristics enable a firm’s development through incubation, a multiple case studies were performed. Interviews were carried out with two Incubated, and three Graduated companies. Results indicate that the incubation process is important to strengthening of the firm. This was observed when innovative strategies employed by companies were analyzed. Was founded an evolution from Incubated to Graduated. During the incubation process, the companies showed a greater focus on strengthening their knowledge bases, seeking to establish qualification relationships and invest in an innovation strategy based on better human resources allocation while the Graduated ones attempt to achieve further innovation by structuring and coupling their own commercial and R&D departments.
Go to Source

Tags: , , , ,

Surviving with paranoia through green and clean marketing in Indian FMCG sector

The Indian FMCG sector is excited about burgeoning rural population whose incomes are rising and which is willing to spend on goods designed to improve life style and are hence targeted by many producers through bold new strategies under the saturating and cut throat competition in urban market. This has caused market size of FMCG sector which was to the tune of US$11.6 billion in 2003 to jump to in excess of US$13.1 billion today and is predicted to treble to US$33.4 billion in 2015. Majority of sale of FMCG products is made to middle class households and over 50% of middle class is in rural India. The rural market may be alluring but it is not without its problems and the civic society’s conscious movement for green marketing only exaggerates this problem. This has ushered in the era of paranoid survival for the FMCG players. Using secondary sources of information available in public domain, this analytical paper based on snap survey of reported cases of non-green marketing strategies brings out the delicacies and intricacies of Indian FMCG sector interfacing socio-economic and environmental issues of rural India.
Go to Source

Tags: , ,

Analysis of e-service of electricity utility provider: an Indian perspective

Customers always expect delivery of high quality services from a service provider at a reasonable cost. In turn, organisations recognise service quality as one of the major competing weapon for their own sustainability in a stiff competitive environment. Service quality represents the gap between customers’ expectations of how an organisation should perform and the service performance that customers perceive. With the rapid development of information and communication technology, internet and World Wide Web have become an important tool not only to extend services but also directly communicate with customers. Therefore, almost all the service as well as product industries are switching over delivering services from traditional to informative modernised web service for enhancing customer satisfaction. As the customers of the electricity utility industries demand some of the services like bill payment and complaint registration, etc. in quick and prompt manner, the industries are adopting web technology to render such services in an efficient way. This article discusses development of an instrument for evaluating customer satisfaction of e-service. The instrument is tested in an electricity utility service provider and important dimensions have been identified. The instrument is validated through statistical analysis.
Go to Source

Tags: ,