“The word ‘technology’ invokes in us, the imagery of the latest gadgets and gizmos which are primarily aimed to improve lives in the first world. We live in an inequitable society though, where a significant section of the population still has limited access to basic needs, let alone technology.
Barring a few exceptions, nonprofits as engines of change have traditionally been late adopters of technology. It is not a reflection of their awareness or intent though; affordability and the need for upfront capital to deploy/leverage technology meaningfully are the key barriers.
This makes a straight-forward case for N/Core tech. Their incubation programme identifies tech-based start-ups with the potential to shift the dial at scale, by leveraging technology to build solutions for India’s myriad social problems.
” The six-month programme comes with an innovation grant support, guidance from experts and mentorship for the founders. It is aimed to tide them over the early stage, refine their business models and fuel their scale aspiration. N/Core tech is supported by the CSR wing of Cisco Inc. Comprising of eight social good start-ups working across diverse domains, the inaugural cohort incubation programme concluded recently.” – Priya Ajmera, Director, N/Core Tech
Meet the N/Core Tech First Cohort
From an online blood donation platform to smart toilets in urban slums, from career counselling in low-income schools to dispensing primary healthcare in the remotest interiors – the inaugural cohort is a splendid confluence of geniuses with a good heart.
Change With One Foundation, founded by Kiran Verma, has launched their digital portal – Simply Blood. Shocked by an untoward personal experience, Verma was determined to stop the horrible black marketing of blood.
Started in 2016, his foundation has worked efficiently to connect potential donors to patients, reducing the waiting time for blood by 8 hours. They have already prevented the wastage of 1 million litres of blood.
The Simply Blood app works nearly similar to cab or food delivery services, where the donor’s location is identified and his/her details are recorded. Upon receiving a matching blood request within a specified distance radius, the donor is notified. “We are aiming to attain zero deaths from blood transfusion delay by 2026,” Verma shares with Efforts For Good.
Another pathfinder in the healthcare domain is Intelehealth, which upholds an open-source healthcare delivery model in rural interiors of Odisha. Founder Neha Goel shares how for tribal families in these remote belts, quality healthcare is still a dream.
Intelehealth has set up a community healthcare app which simulates a doctor’s expertise in primary healthcare. The foundation has selected and trained local women as health-volunteers, who are given access to the very basic user-friendly app, with more icons and pictures than language. These women go door-to-door connecting the patients to their nearest health centre as well as providing preliminary advice about common diseases through the app. The model has changed over 50,000 lives in Angul, Odisha. In fact, the Intelehealth model has been replicated in regions of the Philippines, Syria and even Canada.
In the academic sector, Alohomora Education, Involve Learning and Pi Jam Foundation are fostering future leaders from students – all of them working mainly in low-income schools.
Alohomora, derived from the unlocking curse in Harry Potter, goes by the tagline “Unlocking Minds.” Students in low-income government schools are often the first-generation learners in their families. 11th and 12th-graders are often completely clueless about their career choices, and they have no one to mentor or guide them. Either they opt for menial jobs or give up studying. Worst-affected are the girls, who are married off into lifelong dependence. Alohomora Education is offering a wide range of career options to 1,500 youngsters, among which the students pick up their area of interest. After which expert mentors provide guidance about career opportunities in that particular sector. The students are properly groomed in the two-year-long experience-based training programme, where the use of technology plays a key role.
On the other hand, Involve Learning is nurturing leadership proficiency in students in a peer-to-peer learning system, where senior students are teaching their junior classes. The foundation is operated by three bright youth leaders from IIT Madras. Three days a week, eighth graders and above from schools across Chennai and Bengaluru are assigned to coach a group of four juniors each. Teaching not only provides them with conceptual clarity and in-depth knowledge, but it also improves their practical skills like team management, responsibility, cooperation and kindness. At the same time, junior students find it easier to interact and connect to their seniors than teachers. They are targetting an outreach up to 1,25,000 students in the next five years.
Pi Jam Foundation is a non-profit which is integrating technology in the daily lives of students who have limited access to gadgets. Founders Shoaib Dar and Jaskaran Singh are working in low-income schools across Pune, which are lagging in infrastructure, so much so that even a basic computer is alien to most of the students. The dedicated educators are exposing the students to the fun and creative side of affordable everyday technology. The inspired students are coming up with innovative solutions to their regular problems – be it making an electric bell for their school or a simple water pump for their father’s farm. Breaking down design thinking and algorithm building to a high school level, they are creating young scientists from scratch.
The phrase clean drinking water in villages probably sounds like an oxymoron to many. But Aquasafi Rural Development Foundation is indeed turning this into a pleasant reality. Founder Pavin Pankajan explains how they have successfully designed a sustainable water model and implemented the same in 10 villages in Karnataka. They run self-operated water plants that are completely cloud-controlled by IoT from city-based control rooms. Charging just Rs. 2 for 20 litres of water, these water filters are dispensing clean water to the villagers 24X7. Funds collected from these water filters are then channelised to make the villages self-sustained on their water needs by building solutions like rain-water harvesting, water-shed management etc. in these parched lands.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan might have grabbed a lot of limelight due to the large-scale construction of toilets across India, but the reality is quite disappointing. In the absence of proper maintenance, many toilets in urban slum areas are lying unused or dirty beyond human use. Social worker Swapnil Chaturvedi, a.k.a ‘Poop Guy’ from Samagra has emerged with a fascinating solution for this crisis – Smart Toilets or SmartLoos. Community toilets in congested slum areas of Pune have been converted into smart toilets by simply installing a few sensors like usage counter, water level sensor, odour sensor, electricity sensor, cleaner logs and customer feedback as well. Based on the readings, the concerned department is notified instantly and the problem is solved as soon as possible. Using the recorded data, the toilets have also been rated with stars, for better user convenience.
The final participant of the cohort is Lakeer who are working to improve the living conditions in our expanding cities. With urbanisation being the latest trend in India, cities are sprouting and expanding in a wink, however, sustainable planning still remains a far cry. Working in Hyderabad, Lakeer founders Dipika Prasad and Varun Pawar have designed a geospatial city intelligence tool – CitySight – which provides a clear analysis of the city’s condition. They’ve built a geospatial city intelligence tool, CitySight, using which they help city administrators make more informed decisions about where to use their budgets and resources in a citizen-centric way.
With astounding success in the first chapter, N/Core is gearing up for their second cohort. They are presently accepting applications from tech-based startups who are deemed and determined to bring a change. The last date to submit applications is December 16, 2018.