Bihar government invites grassroots innovators to test their creativity for last mile delivery among its people
The Bihar Innovation Forum started as an initiative of the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (BRLPS) or JEEViKA with an aim to encourage and fund grassroots innovations that had the potential to impact the lives of the rural poor. After the success of its first edition in 2007, the State government widened the scope of this partly World Bank-funded project, inviting innovators with an ear to the ground to test their creativity on the Bihar soil with BIF II. With BIF going national, Arvind Kumar Chaudhary, CEO, JEEViKA, answers questions in an email interview. Excerpts:
Why did you think of expanding Bihar Innovation Forum to the entire country?
The first Bihar Innovation Forum in 2007 was a pioneering approach that aimed to find rural solutions beyond the conventional channels. It helped us unearth some highly impactful innovations such as the System of Rice Intensification (PRADAN), improved beekeeping systems and quality honey production (EDA Rural Systems), inclusion of small dairy farmers in the dairy value chain Bihar State Milk Co-operative Federation (COMFED) etc.
We are aware that across India there are a number of innovators that have found creative and cost effective ways of delivering essential services to those at the bottom of the pyramid.
We felt that by learning from them and bringing their services to Bihar, we could leverage innovations from across the nation to solve the problems being faced by the underprivileged communities in the state.
How has the response been this year?
The response has been very good. We have received close to 500 applications from social innovators in eight categories – agriculture, livestock, financial services, rural energy, skill development and non-farm sector, ICT, access to services and access to entitlements.
How many years and projects is the Rs. 9,200 crore fund set aside for BIF II spread over?
The fund is to be used for various livelihood-based developmental projects over the next 10 years and not just the Bihar Innovation Forum. The mandate is to mobilise 15 million rural poor households into self-help groups/producer groups, village organisations and cluster level federations and focus on their livelihood improvement.
Who is in charge of the implementation of winning projects? What’s the mechanism to ensure that these innovations reach the people?
The winning projects will be implemented by the innovators themselves but they will receive all possible support from JEEViKA and the Bihar Government in the scaling-up and implementation process. JEEViKA will provide access to a ready market framework which includes consumer and producer networks and access to funds.
JEEViKA has staff strength of over 2000 stationed at the village, block, district and state levels… It has also inducted 125 young professionals, from premier management institutes, with most of them stationed at the block level. In addition, JEEViKA has trained about 12000 community professionals who help to facilitate field implementation and last mile delivery to the target population.