Making the World Different with Vodafone World of Difference

How tired do you get if you have to go to school then fetch litres of water and carry it miles home? Is it difficult to go shopping but not be able to read the ingredients within or price of anything? Do you get embarrassed if you only have one outfit to wear day in, day out, for special occasions and for work, and how do you wash it? What’s it like to hear your baby cry with hunger but have nothing to feed her?

How does it feel to have a job you know is making people’s lives better?

Jeevika Trust with World of DifferenceVodafone’s World of Difference programme is giving me the chance to contribute to solutions to some of these provocative questions.

Over four months I will be working with Jeevika Trust to nourish the crucial initiatives in livelihood development that have helped over 100,000 people in Indian villages. This is Jeevika’s second year partnering with Vodafone and we couldn’t be happier about it.

During my placement, I will be working towards three goals:

  • I will be establishing a knowledge base of socio-economic and appropriate technology data to feed our growth on the ground.
  • We’ll also be collaborating with top universities and sharing our findings with you and with our worldwide partners as part of our on-going mission to further the philosophy of Practising Schumacher through Buddhist Economics.
  • Lastly, I will be bolstering our reputation as ‘Hampton Wick’s own International Charity’ with a website upgrade and community outreach at local schools, businesses and events.

If you want a dose of the feel good factor too, you should volunteer with us! If you have experience in IT, PR, business, academia or simply have a hankering to help change the world, I’m only an email away on

Or you can always keep in the loop with my journey here on the blog and consider donating:

Jeevika Trust Just Giving

Many thanks to Vodafone and their World of Difference programme for making this placement possible! We look forward to making a world of difference with you.

Vodafone image courtesy of Afternoon Voice.

The need for a trisector approach

“A tri sector approach is needed: the government sector for legal support, civil society as facilitators and social mobilisers, and the private sector for technology, finance and market”.

– Schumacher Centre, Delhi

My Vodafone World of Difference placement finished at the end of last month. Working for Jeevika Trust intensively for two months has been a very rewarding experience and has enabled me to organise some important awareness and fund raising opportunities.

Corporate reception

UK MP Vince CableMost recently, our local MP and the Government’s Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has agreed to host a summer reception for our corporate stakeholders.

This event will give us the opportunity to bring together companies with operations and interests in India’s booming economy and make the moral and commercial case for them to address the vast poverty in India’s villages.

India’s impressive growth rate, still running at 6-7% despite the financial crisis, is undoubtedly reducing poverty. Recently released Government Planning Commission figures claim that the number of desperately needy rural inhabitants earning 22 rupees or less a day fell by 52m over five years. Access to education, phones and electricity has also increased.

However, three hundred million people in rural India are nonetheless being totally left behind by India’s growth. Their access to water, shelter and sanitation, health, nutrition and food security, shelter and education is more fragile than ever. According to the UN, India is not on track to meet any of the eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015 (although there is insufficient information to assess progress on four of the targets).

A tri-sector approach

Jeevika believes strongly in a ‘tri-sector’ approach, whereby companies, government and NGOs work together to address the huge poverty challenge of the ‘other India’. Our partner Schumacher Centre in Delhi has brought together business, NGOs, politicians and civil servants in workshops to discuss how it can work in practice, providing a much needed fresh approach to rural development.

NGOs in Delhi, India

Training at Schumacher Centre, Delhi

With regards to partnerships between business and NGOs specifically, there are many ways they can support organisations like Jeevika. These include sponsoring an event or publication, funding a project, offering us cause related marketing opportunities, nominating us a ‘charity of the year’, payroll giving, gifts in kind, donating shares, match funding, displaying collection tins and leaflets and engaging staff in fundraising and volunteering.

In return for such support, Jeevika can enable companies to fulfill their CSR objectives, create positive branding opportunities, enhance their reputation, differentiate themselves from their competition, benefit from tax incentives and engage staff, suppliers and customers in new ways possibly leading to increased sales and customer loyalty.

My Jeevika colleague Mark Roberts describes the benefits of supporting Jeevika’s cause thus:

  • Sustainable Business – business models need to mitigate the increasing threat of climate change as well as the social and commercial costs of profound inequalities in wealth and prosperity;
  • Future Markets – how the poor can be given access to markets as a part of commercial business interests driving development, 80% of all poverty reduction stems from business growth, accroding to the Department for International Development;
  • Brand and Reputation – companies that take CSR seriously perform better in terms of the bottom line, on some estimates 75% of the valuation of the average US company is now in the form of intangibles.

I very much hope Jeevika will be able to develop its existing corporate partnerships and develop some new ones as a result of its summer reception, especially with the Vodafone Foundation!

Photo of Vince Cable courtesy of In the Dark.

An Inspiring Induction: Making a World of Difference with Vodafone

There is wisdom in smallness.”
– E. F. Schumacher

As Andrew mentioned in his post last week, both Candace and I are winners of Vodafone’s World of Difference (WOD) programme this year. I think Vodafone deserves a lot of credit for coming up with such an innovative CSR initiative.

At our induction day in late February, I had the pleasure of meeting lots of other winners from diverse walks of life. Like me, many of them are being enabled to transform the fortunes of small charities by the WOD programme.

A very small world

By very happy coincidence, one of the winners I met was Tom Stedall. Tom’s charity, The Converging World, works with the same Indian partner as Jeevika Trust in Tamil Nadu, Social Change and Development (SCAD).

Jeevika runs Project Pisces with SCAD, which has brought three traditional water reservoirs, known as ooranies, back into use providing water for farming and domestic use. Here’s an idea of how the transformation takes place:

Restoring ponds in India

Restoring ponds in India

Ooranie pond restoration in India

Additionally, in 2010 the ooranies were used for fish farming and the harvest was consumed and sold by 2,500 villagers in the Tuticorin area.

Ooranie pond restoration in India

The Converging World supports SCAD community development projects on GP consultations, education and women’s self help groups and is also developing renewable energy and woodstove initiatives.

Connecting Schumacher with World of Difference

Both The Converging World and Jeevika Trust draw inspiration from the radical economist, E.F. Schumacher, author of the book Small is Beautiful: Economics as if people mattered.

Schumacher rejected large scale industrial development based on the exploitation of finite, non-renewable resources.

He instead believed in tackling poverty by revitalising rural communities, promoting inclusive, sustainable development and creating and sharing appropriate knowledge and technology centred around human well-being.

At Vodafone’s inspirational induction day, listening to the fascinating stories of so many activists that are improving the world through grassroots, community-based organisations, it occurred to me that Schumacher’s belief that “Small is beautiful” is also a very apt description for the WOD programme itself.

Restoring ponds in India

To learn more about our water projects, such as Project Ooranie in Tamil Nadu, visit our website. Have a question about ooranie pond restoration? Leave a comment below and we’d love to tell you more!