Since the start of the millennium India has witnessed a massive shift of employment out of agriculture, rapid growth of cities, and a rapid increase in labor migration, most of it under distress. While the shift out of agriculture is significant and more imminent, alternative livelihoods in rural India are yet to emerge, leaving youth in rural communities no option other than to migrate in search of jobs. This growing demand for livelihood opportunities needs to be addressed at population scale.
The/Nudge Foundation was founded in 2015 by Atul Satija with the purpose to alleviate sustainably and at scale. Seven years hence, this Bangalore-based nonprofit has evolved into The/Nudge Institute - a development action institute working with government, markets and civil society to enable resilient livelihoods for all.
"The/Nudge Institute is now aligning itself with resilient livelihoods as a means of alleviating poverty within our lifetime and the goal is to end poverty by 2047, which is 100 years of India's independence." says Subhashree Dutta, who leads Social Entrepreneurship at The/Nudge.
The/Nudge Institute has successfully run the incubator and accelerator programs for the past four years. The Institute's incubator and accelerator programs are known to empower the real problem solver, i.e. innovative and audacious startups in the development sector. Nearly a hundred nonprofits have gone through the program. "We have given grants, mentorships, and run boot camps and provided ecosystem connections, so this holistic approach of our program has been very successful. As we begin pivoting to the livelihoods sector, we want to support The/Nudge Institute's vision of prototype, propagate and proliferate and look for dynamic entrepreneurs who are creating or enabling livelihoods by unshackling the constraints preventing the underserved from accessing livelihoods." says Subhashree Dutta.
When asked about some examples of organizations currently funded by the program, Subhashree readily provided us with a list and even emphasized on the kind of work each organization is doing. "India has a lot of freshwater resources, but less than 50 percent is used for freshwater fisheries production. Jaljeevika, an organization that is part of our current Accelerator program, works on bringing underutilized freshwater resources under fisheries to boost food security, livelihood and employment generation for fish farmers and has impacted 25,000 farmers in 3 states. Another organization, Esther, that is part of our current Incubator cohort, is enabling women college graduates from tier 2 and tier 3 towns to confidently start and grow in their careers in formal jobs. It offers programs to equip women with necessary skills and attitudes to navigate the transition from college to careers, through career readiness coaching, mentorship, and life skills."
Today, technology has become an inseparable part of our lives, and the pandemic has only left people appreciating its benefits. But these technology-enabled solutions that have allowed people to sustain livelihoods even in tough times shouldn't be just limited to a certain section of society. Addressing the role of organizations that are using technology-driven solutions, Subhashree readily pointed out a few organizations that are using technology as a tool to alleviate poverty and are supported by the Institute's Social Entrepreneurship programs. "One such organization is Gramhal Foundation which is using technology and data to enable farmers to get better negotiating prices and more out of the value chain. Another organization in our incubator program is Waatavaran, it uses GIS-based mapping technology to map the land ownership of the tribal communities and generate evidence of land claims."
Talking about the change transmitters that can unshackle livelihoods in India, Subhashree adds "The change transmitters are entrepreneurs who can unlock opportunities by providing either digital, technical, financial or marketing agency to the underserved communities. The MSME segment in India, is one of the largest providers of employment. Only 2.2% of these MSMEs are registered on the Government's Udyam platform. Informal MSMEs are not able to get formal credit or access to many Government schemes. So just a simple step of getting more MSMEs registered would give them financial agency and enable unlocking of immense potential for formal credit and therefore more employment."