Check out this fun map of Atma and all the Atma NGO Partners. Which Atma NGO Partner is closest to you?
View Atma Partners in a larger map
Check out this fun map of Atma and all the Atma NGO Partners. Which Atma NGO Partner is closest to you?
View Atma Partners in a larger map
“Last week Atma founder Hayley Bolding was nominated for the Young Australian of the Year 2013 award.
Having had the good fortune of knowing Lee closely this did not come as a surprise. I have had the privilege of witnessing her incredible journey from being a girl with a dream to becoming a visionary, a founder and an engaged world citizen.
As a 23 year old visitor to India, Hayley was struck by the sheer number of social entrepreneurs working to address issues of quality education in Mumbai. Their amazing spirit motivated her to help them achieve their goals. This basic sentiment of wanting to help germinated into an idea which ultimately set off Hayley and her colleague Adrienne into founding Atma.
Being foreigners in a foreign land though,meant an uphill road. Despite encountering innumerable road blocks, both cultural and logistical, Hayley persevered with exemplary grit and determination. Every failure, every wrong turn, was a lesson learned and was used to make easier the path of Atma’s partners in their own struggles to establish themselves.
Hayley is a strong & determined individual. But anybody who has had the opportunity of meeting her would know that her biggest strength lies in her engaging personality. It is hard not to be taken in by this remarkable woman who exudes warmth. Her passion for Atma is infectious and is one of the reasons our organisation has gained as many dedicated supporters and well-wishers as it has.
Today, 5 years later, we at Atma ,find ourselves in an extremely exciting growth phase. Through 5 Graduated and 10 Current Partners, Atma has been able to reach out to over 12000 children around Mumbai.
That we would not have gotten this far without Lee’s vision, drive and perseverance is obvious. It is however her continued engagement and guidance as a Founder and advocate of Atma, that gives us the strength and motivation to help transform her idea and vision into reality.”
(Author note: Mary Ellen Matsui joined Atma as a volunteer in 2008. She currently works as Executive Director of Atma.)
Helplessness is a feeling familiar to all humans but one that has been particularly permeating Indian minds off late. Every sunrise seems to bring with it a new scam, a new conspiracy uncovered and a renewed sense of shame amongst us citizens. Cynicism is no stranger to the average Indian. It can be safely said that India’s political leadership has never failed to disappoint, cheat or frustrate us.
Admittedly however, none of the statements above are surprising or new. What is surprising and perhaps even heartening is the fact that young India is no longer seeking comfort in apathy. Unhappy about the lack of much needed development in our country many are taking it upon themselves to try and change the Indian story. We want to be a part of the conversation. This is exemplified by the significant increase in social enterprises led by remarkable young individuals keen to participate in India’s growth story. (See: MAD, Avanti Fellows)
To quote an article featured in Mid-Day six months ago -the development space in India is seeing an influx of NRIs who choose to return to their home country taking almost 100 per cent pay cuts to work towards affordable healthcare, housing and set up rural enterprises. The success of fellowship programs like Teach for India, Gandhi Fellowship and many more that are essentially trying to build leaders of tomorrow, further evidence this enthusiasm. Co-founder of UnLtd India, an incubator for social enterprises Pooja Warrier says, “We have seen an increase in the number of professionals from various sectors wanting to start social ventures. Their desire to contribute to the development sector despite the seemingly insurmountable odds is heartening to see.”
MUMBAI+ acumen recently organised an event aptly themed- Passion with a Purpose. The event saw Jacqueline Novogratz-founder of Acumen Fund address a room full of development professionals from across the globe. Having transitioned from the banking sector to development herself, she talked about her struggles and triumphs through this journey. When asked to advise the leaders of tomorrow she said, “Focus on being interested, not on being interesting.”
An interest in tomorrow is perhaps what has led to the rise of a generation of young change makers, not just in India but the world over. Events and forums like these that bring together bright minds often turn into opportunities to share war stories and lessons. This talk was exactly that and more- An inspiring speaker with an engaging audience.
Corrupt leaders indifferent about the fate of India seem like a distant nightmare when I meet so many inspiring folks who are working to find solutions to the world’s problems. It is here that the cacophony of scams attenuates. It is here, in the social sector, that I find hope as an average Indian struggling to be optimistic about my country’s future. It is here that the glass appears half-full.
An Evening with Jacqueline organised by MUMBAI+acumen witnessed a huge turnout of development enthusiasts.
(Author: Anushka Gole is a communications coordinator with Atma and a Mumbai+acumen chapter member)
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This article was also posted on the Acumen Fund Blog.
Dasra Social Impact is an executive education program aimed at providing non profits and social businesses with transformational skills necessary to build sustainable and scalable organisations to accelerate their impact. With 132 alumni DSI has mobilized funding of over 5.4 million USD. The program helps entrepreneurs in three areas- Knowledge, Funding and People.
In layman terms, a DSI participant would ideally graduate with business skills required to scale, ability to make powerful yet succinct pitches to potential funders and access to a large network of social entrepreneurs and funders.
Mary Ellen Matsui, Executive Director of Atma and a DSI cohort 7 member, shares her thoughts.
“DSI is an opportunity to interact with Social enterprises and NGOs from around the country. It is wonderful to be able to meet the passionate and ambitious individuals who are behind these organisations. Looking at each others’ program models and listening to various perspectives on them is a big part of the peer learning that takes place.”
How has DSI helped so far?
“The first workshop that took place in September allowed us to take a step back and think about the bigger picture. This is crucial to us at Atma since we are currently trying to figure out the way forward. Atma being a capacity building organisation has always provided this kind of support to other educational NGOs. It is refreshing to be able to receive such concrete guidance.”
What will this mean for Atma?
“DSI is an excellent platform to learn about the work and challenges of different organisations. This will enable a capacity building organisation like ours to understand how we can grow our services to support incredible scalable initiatives.”
Atma is excited about being a part of Dasra Cohort 7 and looks forward to the many learnings in store. We hope this experience will help in getting a step closer towards our vision of making Quality education available to all children.
(The DSI program is a three week education program spread over September, January and March. Watch out for our next blog post in this series at the end of the program.)
With a population of over 1.2 billion, India is home to as many dreams if not more. 68.7% of Indian people however, live on less than 2USD per day (World Bank, 2011). Challenges related to poverty, health, education and even climate-change make basic survival a far more important consideration than chasing dreams.
There are over 3.3 million social enterprises* in India working towards finding innovative solutions to these challenges. These organisations led by social entrepreneurs, visionaries and change-makers, however, require support in order to scale, expand their reach and fulfill their potential.
Born out of this need, incubation organisations have been on the rise in India. Ranked among the top social incubators in the country, UnLtd India was set-up in late 2007 with a mission to support and foster the development of a social entrepreneurship movement, both by helping develop social entrepreneurs and publicising this approach to driving change. It is currently the only incubation program in India which provides financial and non-financial support to all types of social entrepreneurs from the very earliest stages of development.
Seed funding, hands-on training and high-value connections are their key service offerings. This comprehensive support program is coupled with a peer learning environment. As a co-habitant of the “incubators and support organisations” space, Atma shares their values of promoting open source and collaborative environments enabling mutual learning and growth. This is exemplified by the fact that three UnLtd India Investees are also Current Atma Partners.
Atma works towards strengthening high-potential educational organisations to create a positive impact in the larger educational space. “Through our work, we have come across some incredible organisations and individuals who are focused on maximising their “social” footprint. It is heartening to see an organisation like UnLtd India support these visionaries in not just getting a running start but also transforming their ideas into sustainable endeavours.”-Mary Ellen Matsui, Executive Director at Atma.
As part of a relatively smaller yet growing community of support organisations, Atma looks towards organisations like UnLtd India to learn and develop its own services. We hope that Atma, UnLtd India and other organisations in this space can collaborate to make an even bigger impact in the social development space.
*In India, social enterprises include NGOs and hybrid organisations.(Source:wikipedia)
(UnLtd India is currently accepting Investee Applications. Click here for more details or write to email@example.com)
(Image credit: Sankalp)
The development sector has undergone tremendous changes over the last decade. However, this is noticeable in India now more than ever. The annual Sankalp Summit, initiated in 2009, is a collaborative platform bringing together social enterprises, impact investors, policy makers, and other market makers. Atma had the opportunity to attend this summit last week organised over two days at the Taj Lands End Hotel in Mumbai. Discussions ranging from the importance of impact investment, the role of social entrepreneurs in the development sector, capitalism and the need to “reimagine it” exemplified changes in India’s perceptions about the role of development.
Social development is no longer charity. Donors today invest in social enterprises and expect outcomes, social and/or financial. According to a report by Bain & Company, Inc. (Indian Philanthropy Report 2012) there has been a significant rise in “new generation donors who show greater interest in making donations through formal channels to established NGOs, rather than giving money to a local religious institution or setting up their own informal projects as their parents might have done. Many next-gen donors have been educated overseas and want to adopt Western practices that favour more structured ways of giving, with a focus on outcomes.”
This change in attitude has paved the way for forums such as the Sankalp Summit to come about with their “corporate” styled networking platforms. The summit is, in all fairness, a fantastic meeting point for thinkers, investors and investees from the development sector. April 12th and 13th saw debates and sessions focused over five sectors: Agriculture, food & rural businesses; Clean energy/technology; Education & vocational training; Health, water & sanitation and Technology for development.
Experts from across these sectors participated in the discussions making them educational, inspirational and meaningful.150 impact investors and 400 social entrepreneurs came together to focus and debate over these five high impact sectors. Participants made the most of this networking opportunity with the more fruitful conversations taking place during lunch and tea breaks. Claiming to be the largest collaborative platform in India, this forum has started a trend of sorts.
Some critics fear that the non-English speaking social entrepreneurs will not find a place amongst these “professional” groups. The term was often used to mean a Harvard or Ivy League graduate working in the development space. This sentiment was vocalized by Harish Hande, Founder and Managing Director, SELCO, when he remarked that these forums largely catered to the English speaking population. Reservations about the new crop of Ivy League graduates who may not have sufficient knowledge about conditions at ground zero were a subtle undercurrent observed at this summit. However, it may be pertinent at this point to acknowledge the rise in volunteering and fellowship initiatives. Many organisations today, provide volunteers with the kind of hands on experience required to gain a deep understanding of “how things work”. Atma has a similar volunteering program that allows graduates or mid-career professionals of varied backgrounds to work with NGOs involved in education. This exchange of expertise and experience is crucial to the growth of people and organisations involved.
This new diverse group of individuals comes with new perspectives and solutions to tackle developmental issues. Forums that bring them together into one room are tremendous learning opportunities. How we use these opportunities will determine the success of forums like Sankalp 2012.