Making an impact together


INDUSTRIAL HOUSES are increasingly taking up social activities these days. The projects/schemes taken up revolve around literacy, health, education and so on. The effort is a sustained one with resources being earmarked for the purpose. Michael Jackson's song "Heal the world make it a better place for you and me... " comes to mind in this context. Very much on similar lines, Net Impact, a global organisation of emerging business leaders is committed to using the strength of business to create a better world. Having over 7000 members, this international network has 80 student and professional chapters worldwide and is one of the most progressive and influential networks of MBAs in existence today. The Indian School of Business has the unique distinction of being the only member business school in the Asian continent of Net Impact.

The vision of Net Impact Club, ISB is to create meaningful partnerships between academic, business and development communities that catalyse corporate social responsibility. The 90- member team of this club has a strong passion driven by determination and commitment to give their best to the society and thus make an impact. This, they feel, is their social obligation and the first step towards the objective of creating a better world. Focussing in this direction, an initiative was taken by Net Impact Club by organising a Social Development Forum which invited NGO's such as Naandi Foundation, UNICEF, ILO, Catholic Relief Services, Ashoka Foundation, Aga Khan Educational Services, Centre for Environment Concerns, Nirnaya Trust, MV Foundation, AFPRO and Byrraju Foundation to participate in the forum. The Forum proved to be a powerful platform for the students in gaining valuable insight about the first-hand work being carried out in the non-profit sector. It also helped the NGOs to interact with the business school students and chart out areas where these future business leaders could offer their services to the respective organisations. "It is the first time that a social development fair has been organised by our club. We hope to sensitise students and raise their levels of awareness on social issues by conducting such events," says Net Club President, Shiv Sagar Chopra.

The speakers highlighted the need for intellectual capital to collaborate with such NGOs to provide solutions to the non-profit sector. All presenters emphasised on the fact that the need of the hour was not just policy making and implementation but also reviewing and drafting effective plans which yielded benefits for the society. Areas of collaboration and suggestions of how and where the ISB students could make a difference were clearly etched out by every speaker of the respective organisations. Nomito Kamdar of the Ashoka Foundation, a global association of leading social entrepreneurs based in Bangalore, expressed that ISB could lend a helping hand in building business plans for the foundation's projects and avail an opportunity to participate actively in the social change process.

VITAL INTERACTION: Students taking a tip or two.

VITAL INTERACTION: Students taking a tip or two.  

Creating a world-class platform for sustainable rural transformation by unleashing human potential is the concept which drives the Byrraju Foundation. Manivannan of Byrraju explained the intricate details of the rural projects the foundation was handling and how ISB students could help leverage solutions for the various operations. Rajeshwar Reddy of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) elucidated that ISB students could contribute their professional expertise in project development, in conducting surveys, evaluation and process documentation. Women's empowerment, eradication of child and women and trafficking and HIV/AIDS are the spheres where CRS has been working for betterment.

There is a multiplicity of the issues and an integrated approach with an influenced thinking by the youth of today could work wonders for the economy was how Gopal of the Centre for Environment Concerns felt. UNICEF, ILO and Aga Khan representatives laid immense stress on the eradication of child labour as Andhra Pradesh is reported to have the highest incidence of child labour in the country. There have been campaigns, documentaries and other measures being taken in tandem with the Government in an attempt to free children from this curse.

Often children who are denied education fall prey to child labour. Naandi, an NGO, has initiated talks with the State Government for adopting 300 government schools in an effort to raise the level of the standard of education being imparted to children. The suggestion from Manoj Kumar, CEO of Naandi to adopt one such school was a point taken by the students and the dean of ISB. "We will certainly adopt a school. Trying to make a difference in the lives of these children will be a major task and a stimulating challenge which we look forward to," avers Shiv Sagar Chopra. William Thompson, Programme Officer of UNICEF, Joseph, Project Manager of ILO and Iyer Naidu of Aga Khan Educational Services all touched upon the significance of the need for improvement of the quality of education for children. This plays a vital role in the lives of children as they are the future sculptors of India's destiny. Vijay Mahajan, ISB Dean assured the NGOs that help, support and services would be extended by the ISB students in all possible ventures which would give the students a heightened level of awareness.

FRUITFUL ASSOCIATION: Vijay Mahajan, Dean of ISB (right), with William Thompson of UNICEF.

FRUITFUL ASSOCIATION: Vijay Mahajan, Dean of ISB (right), with William Thompson of UNICEF.  

The magnanimity of the problems may seem insurmountable but a step at a time and in the right direction is sure to yield solutions. There could be nothing called as the perfect solution to a problem, but the concerted efforts of the best brains and the cognisance of the problems in a realistic level can help change thinking. Thus, in turn, there will be a change in the outlook of decision-making, policy evaluation and all other facets related to social good. Involving the civil society is one of the most important aspects for any radical change to be affected. Child labour, women's empowerment, child and women trafficking, livelihood problems, lack of employment are examples of problems inherited from the past generations and persisting still. It is time that something is done to improve the standard of living of many.

A more professional approach, appropriate use of technology, soft skills and thought leadership have to be put into use for attaining sustainable development. This way the emerging business leaders can bring about change, development and have a profound impact in creating a better world.