Today, 13th May, exactly one year ago, Ineke and I started in India. The past year has been a great journey in which many inspiring and wonderful things happened. In which we learned what works in India. And also what doesn’t. We needed to let go a part of our Dutch way of thinking and become more Indian: go with the flow, grab and live the moment, and accept Indian Stretched Time (IST) if traffic or heavy rainfall causes you to travel much longer to your destination.
It is good to be here, because there is a lot going on the Indian social sector. Discussions about reconsidering the eco-system of social investment, social entrepreneurship, impact investment etc. are going on every day and now we interact in these discussions. We are getting a better feeling where we can add most value in this system. And our network is increasing day by day.
The main target in 2013 was to find new business partners; the social enterprises with whom we create employment for rural women. After months of seeding, we now have started harvesting. In the first few months of 2014, we have started collaborating with four new business partners. And a few more are most likely to become our business partner. The coming weeks we will be working with them on identifying their business challenges and how exactly we can support them in their growth ambition.
It is of course really great that our local presence pays off and harvest time has come. But if we want to realize our goal we need more than these new business partners. We work towards a more Indo-Dutch approach. Next to more new business partners, we will look for Indian funding partners. So we started recruiting Indian consultants who will work on the latter.
2% CSR legislation as opportunity
Next to challenges, we also see a lot of opportunities. Like the Indian Government’s “Corporate Social Responsibility – Companies Bill 2012″. This Companies Bill made it mandatory for Indian companies to report on how much they spend on CSR every year. If companies spend less than 2% of their average net profit over the last three years, they are required to explain the reasons. India is the first nation in the world to frame such legislation.
So our second year in India has started. With all the challenges and opportunities ahead, we can only say: “Let’s make these one million jobs for women in rural India happen!”
Ronald van het Hof
MD Women on Wings India