Just 30 kilometers from Bangalore, India, a place where world-famous technology companies are developing life-changing products, is another world. Here, in Orohalli, residents have no indoor plumbing or sanitary facilities. The maternity ward at the local hospital is a steel bed. School-age children have no educational infrastructure beyond a simple brick-and-mortar building and a few books. The poverty, even to a native Indian like me, is shocking and heart-breaking.
I visited this village in October as part of a site visit on behalf of Juniper Networks India. There I became the extra eyes, ears, hands and mind that our corporate donors could rely on to evaluate the impact of and potential for CSR projects. SVCF’s goal is to help corporate partners achieve their international CSR objectives efficiently and effectively.
The trip came about with the help of many interested parties, both within SVCF and among our corporate donors. In August 2015, SVCF launched an exclusive service to undertake site visits of Indian nonprofit organizations as an extension of our international grantmaking services. This service was made available to our corporate advised fund donors and India CSR Affinity group members. After discussions with Juniper Networks India and Symantec Foundation, in October 2015, I was fortunate to team up with Juniper Networks India on a programmatic site visit for a “smart village” project, and visit a nonprofit site in Delhi for the Symantec Foundation.
Visiting villages with Juniper Networks India
Along with a group of three Juniper Networks India representatives, I visited three out of the 11 villages that Juniper Networks India is looking to support through health and education programs. According to the Indian census, 70 percent of the country’s population still lives in villages. Instead of encouraging migration to cities for better opportunities, Juniper Networks India’s vision is to build smart villages where technology and network connectivity can promote development and a higher quality of life. During the visit, SVCF and Juniper Networks India met with local government and community members, as well as representatives from the partner organizations implementing the project.
I also met individually with each of the prospective nonprofit partners at their offices in Bangalore. We discussed a Request for Proposal (RFP) process that SVCF created for Juniper Networks India and the overall program plan. The key objectives of this site visit were to review the RFP, assess the community needs and gain insight on the nonprofit partners to provide recommendations for smooth execution of the smart village project.
Nonprofit site visit in Delhi for Symantec Foundation
SVCF also partnered with Symantec Foundation, completing a site visit to an existing grantee organization in Delhi to understand and assess its organizational and program capacity. The goal is to leverage SVCF’s specialized expertise to build the foundation for a successful, long-term partnership for Symantec with the Indian nonprofit organization. SVCF’s detailed site visit report and follow up debrief conversations enable the team at Symantec to find programs that align with the company’s vision to harness the power of information technology to make the digital world safer.
Fostering deeper understanding
During this site visit trip to India, I also attended the India CSR Summit 2015 in Bangalore. The two-day conference focused on CSR partnerships and insights into new strategies and practices that deliver maximum impact. The biggest takeaway from the conference was the India CSR Outlook report, which provides an in-depth analysis of CSR spending in India.
On behalf of SVCF, I was also able to meet program managers from Cisco, NetApp and Oracle India to understand their programmatic approaches and hear about their experiences with implementing the new CSR spend rule that was enacted via the Companies Act of India.
It was gratifying for me personally to visit Orohalli, meet so many hardworking but disadvantaged people, and return to work in Silicon Valley knowing that SVCF is helping corporations ensure that those villagers and their children will someday have better lives.
For further information about these site visits, future collaborations for site visits in 2016 or to learn more about current corporate social responsibility spending and developing partnerships in India, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.