Development is always bottom-up. As a step towards strengthening the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid and to help the local community welfare projects reap the benefits of “Digital India” at the very grassroots, Smile Foundation has partnered with the Dutch development organisation Wilde Ganzen, to launch the international capacity building initiative Change the Game Academy (CTG Academy) in India. This is a first of its kind e-learning portal specially created for, and dedicated to build the capacities of, grassroots NGOs and CBOs.
With India’s evolution into an emerging economy, foreign funds from developed countries are dwindling, which are now directed towards rehabilitating and empowering poorer countries and conflict zones.
On the other hand, while there have been various developments within the country like the coming of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mandate and a rise in number of individual donors owing to the increased per capita income, these resource avenues remain accessible only to larger organizations or INGOs.
Majority of the record number of 3.3 million NGOs in India are however working at the grassroots level. Engaging directly with the people, these organisations have the potential to participate in the thought making process of the communities, thus bringing long-term change. But despite their last mile connect the community welfare initiatives are often faced with challenges in funding and resource mobilization due to lack of proper management system, communication and mobilization skills, or internal preparedness.
“Ideally, grassroots NGOs and CBOs should become an interface between the community and the government, helping implement the schemes and policies to the last mile and reflecting the gaps by becoming the voice of the community. But to make this possible, there is an imminent need to incubate and handhold grassroots NGOs”, says Mr. Santanu Mishra, the Co-Founder & Executive Trustee of Smile Foundation.
Driven with a vision to mitigate these challenges, the CTG Academy will be focused on strengthening the capacities of grassroots organisations in three main domains: organisational capacity, local fundraising, and mobilising support. Majorly, it would enable the grassroots NGOs to raise support locally and diversify their resources, so that community welfare initiatives can become self-sustainable and their impact is long-lasting.
The e-learning platform has easy modules where representatives from the CBOs and grassroots NGOs can learn and complete courses at their own pace and convenience. The modules have been designed by international experts and adapted to suit the Indian context by Smile Foundation. Along with the modules, the portal has toolkits, inspiring case studies from across the world and an extensive library. Taking a comprehensive approach, the programme will also have parallel face to face training sessions where the CBOs and grassroots NGOs will get an opportunity to learn directly from experts.
“We will take Change the Game Academy to 30 different cities pan-India and shall work closely with CBOs and NGOs involved in crucial developmental projects like education, health and livelihood. The idea is to help them forge positive partnerships with multiple stakeholders like the local authorities, corporate, government and institutions, and channelizing the collective efforts to bring sustainable development at the community level”, adds Mr. Mishra.
Besides India, the programme has also been launched in Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.
Smile Foundation, through its national programme “Empowering Grassroots” has been actively working for and with grassroots NGOs and CBOs for over a decade now to help them achieve self-sustainability and scalability.