Insights from the ground

How do we define our social impact? This has been a major concern for us over the last few weeks. Is there a single guiding metric or is it a set of variables? As a social business, this is what we use to calculate how much 'social good' we are actually doing. I had the opportunity to meet with Professor Mohammed Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank in New York at the NYU: Grameen Lab Change Model in September, and he stressed the need for all social businesses to clearly define and share these metrics. A main question we are constantly asking ourselves is how can we measure this in a consistent manner? For every metric there is an intricate service framework created around it to facilitate its collection. By creating a mock-up of this framework we can easily check for the feasibility of measuring each metric proposed.

At the end of the day it is important for us to thoroughly evaluate what we do. This constant metrics collection when coupled with qualitative information from our users is what we are calling our 'Feedback Loop'. This is still in its infancy as a project, and it is truly a cross disciplinary one. More on that soon!

I bring all of this up because these past two weeks have been full of evaluation. It has been a very interesting time getting up to speed on the ground realities of our operations. It was very rewarding to see customers at our store the very first time I visited it. Our entrepreneur JT is hard at work and already has a full time sales staff.

We had a very productive brainstorming session at our store. Our business manager Santosh brings with him years of experience in the development sector. We have highlighted new marketing initiatives that I promise to document and share as they progress. We have also begun to consider other services and products we can expand to within the purview of our goals.

These ideas could not have been developed at such a fast rate in an office in Providence. Having a team on the ground gives a great perspective. The local knowledge the entrepreneur brings is key for us to respond to the needs of our users. We are very big believers in 'Participatory Innovation' our entrepreneur helps in generating ideas that we in turn refine and make scalable. It is the only way to actively respond in this market.

We are up to some very innovative and interesting things here in Mumbai. I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts and developments on the ground on a weekly basis. So watch this space!