School for social entrepreneurs

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sustainability of projects is important for social service sector organisations to work efficiently. And, with the management of the sector becoming more complex each day, the Centre for Social Initiative and Management (CSIM), started in 2001, has been providing training for would-be ?social entrepreneurs’.

The philosophy is simple enough as the co-ordinator of CSIM at Chennai, Latha Suresh, explains: “There are many NGOs doing good work in many areas. But they do not manage to tap the resources available from government and industry. Leadership training and management skills are essential for these NGOs to serve a larger group of people.”

Many workers in the social sector are taking this seriously. Buzzwords like ?soft skills’, ?stakeholder management’, etc., are getting heard not just in corporate boardrooms as NGOs are seeking means to expand beyond their current capacities to ensure they have a larger impact.

“It is not a ?scaling up’. I would call it a ?scaling out’ as NGOs want to replicate their successful models in other pockets. We help them achieve this by training them on the essentials of social management,” Ms. Suresh says.

There are also a number of people who feel they have an important idea that they would like to implement but do not know how to go about doing that. Maryma Scotlin, who works with Ms. Suresh at CSIM, says, “People are not very ready to take risks, and we teach them how to manage risk-taking without having to compromise or endanger their core work.”

C. Govindakrishnan, a visually-challenged worker at a large NGO, completed CSIM’s diploma course in 2001. He was motivated enough to start Nethrodaya, his own NGO, and now runs services catering to nearly 50 visually-impaired people, providing them with hostel facilities, an Internet centre, training for employment, etc.

“I was not sure what I could do but the course taught me the basics of management. I gained confidence and decided to plunge ahead with my own NGO,” he says.

At a recent interaction with NGOs, Elizabeth K. Nitze, vice-president of the Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur Program, Ashoka – Innovators for the Public, told the audience that social entrepreneurship was the only way a sustainable solution to the world’s problems could be achieved. With funds in millions of dollars flowing in from government and other sources to the social sector, it was critical to develop these skills to work effectively, she said. But what exactly this would involve is often the million-dollar question for NGOs. Ms. Suresh says that courses aimed at professionals in this sector are the answer.

CSIM offers a six-month Post-Graduate Diploma in Social Initiative and Management, and a four-month part-time Social Entrepreneurship Outlook Programme. The first is aimed at fresh graduates and relatively less-experienced professionals working in NGOs, while the second hones the skills of NGO heads wanting to fine-tune their organisation.

The courses are offered by CSIM at Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai. This year, the course starts in the first week of August, and the Chennai graduates will obtain a diploma certified jointly by CSIM and MOP Vaishnav College for Women.

Source: The Hindu (link opens in a new window)