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June 30, 2011

We have been talking with our lecturer and indiaphile Soumitri Varadarjan, who was telling us about some great NGOs functioning in Ahmedabad. We are planning to do some work with an NGO or two while we are over there. Here are just a few that are active in the Gujarat region. All quotes are taken from their websites.

SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association)

“SEWA is a trade union registered in 1972. It is an organisation of poor, self-employed women workers. …SEWA’s main goals are to organise women workers for full employment. Full employment means employment whereby workers obtain work security, income security, food security and social security (at least health care, child care and shelter).”

SEWA also has a research site with all the studies they have done and papers they have written, free to download. They just ask where you are from and why you are downloading them, then they are all yours, which in itself is a really smart idea. And the papers are really interesting.

HoneyBee Network

“A crucible of like-minded individuals, innovators, farmers, scholars, academicians, policy makers, entrepreneurs and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). A Network having presence in more than seventy five countries, what has made Honey Bee Network tight knit and efficiently functional is its philosophy. Honey Bee signifies a philosophy of discourse, which is authentic, accountable and fair.” The HoneyBee Network is based in India and NIF, GIAN and SRISTI are part of the Network. They all seem to be working toward the same goal and in fact seem to overlap a fair bit.

NIF (National Innovation Foundation)

“The Department of Science and Technology (DST) India helped establish the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India, on Feb 28th 2000, with the main goal of providing institutional support in scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up grassroots green innovations and helping their transition to self supporting activities.”

GIAN (Grassroots Innovations Augmentation Network)

GIAN, an initiative of NIF, is India’s first technology business incubator focused on incubating and commercialising grassroots innovations.

“The very purpose was to strengthen the initiatives of NIF at regional level in a result oriented manner to help support the innovations/ innovators at grassroots. This is done by providing handholding support to the rural innovators and links them to the formal systems of technical, financial and marketing services such that a viable business model could be developed out of the rural innovation. In the GIAN model, emphasis is on a resource in which economically poor people are rich that is their knowledge, innovations or practices. GIAN tries to add value to this knowledge and facilitate the commercial and non-commercial diffusion. This generates rewards for the innovators and more efficient green choices for the consumers and people struggling with same or similar problems.

The mandate of GIAN (North) is to link grassroots innovation with enterprise development which includes:-

1. Incubation (Idea to product/practice)
2. Product development (development of product prototype)
3. Intellectual Property Protection (patenting, trademarks)
4. Market Research and Venture Promotion (Project Planning, Technology transfer, commercial launch, pilot and Commercial scale Production, distribution and vendor development and dissemination of information)
5. Cross-regional technology diffusion/ replication/ transfer.”

SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions)

“SRISTI [meaning] creation in Sanskrit, was born in 1993 as a result of the felt need for an institutional support to the activities of the Honey Bee Network. Based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. SRISTI was set up to provide organizational, intellectual and logistics support to the Honey Bee Network. The primary objectives while setting up the organization were: systematically documenting, disseminating and developing grassroots green innovations, providing intellectual property rights protection to grassroots innovators, working on the in situ and ex situ conservation of local biodiversity, and providing venture support to grassroots innovators. SRISTI manages the Honey Bee database of innovations, and supports the publication of the Network’s newsletter in three languages, English, Hindi and Gujarati.”


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