by Isabel Guerrero

Last week (July 14-15) we held our third Scaling up Workshop with SRIJAN, to continue the scaling up journey. The first two workshops (in December and March) were exciting and inspiring, and the team saw huge potential. It entailed a new way of thinking about SRIJAN’s work as the teams are seeking to scale up their impact building on years of experience working with women’s Self Help Groups in the poorest states of India.

This time reality sunk in, and we all rolled up our sleeves to work on the very concrete challenges that have emerged in the work since last March. These new issues presented choices that had to be made and strategic tensions that result from the constraints in financial and human resources.

Identifying the essence of SRIJAN’s work and then finding cheaper, faster and better ways is at the core of getting ready to scale up. This is not easy and it involves a careful mapping of the system before deciding on a concrete action plan. Questions include:  how does complex system work, how is it seen from different parts of the organization, where does implementation break down, and what are the high leverage interventions?

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SRIJANITES were eager to do the work so they could move into an action plan, even before we arrived. There was such an amazing richness of experience within each group that all that IMAGO had to do was provide tools to bring the work done in the field into the room. Once we understood the complex ecosystems of each of the four main themes (SHGs, Horticulture, Agriculture and Diary), we could start the work of simplification to find the Minimum Viable Product to scale up each of these programs. At the core of each of these programs were the women, organized collectively as SHGs and now evolving into shareholders of Community Based Enterprises.

At the end of the workshop we had created a series of Action Plans that spelled out the pre-conditions for scaling up. Each of these was translated into 6 Columns: Milestones, Performance Measurements, Responsibility, Resources, Potential Obstacles, and Actions to Deal with the Obstacles. The actions agreed in these plans constituted the first step to achieve the overarching goal of reaching 100,000 families by 2018.

The work now continues in the field, where the Community Based Social Enterprises are/will be located. Marcela Gutierrez and Ronnie Brodsky, two Harvard students, are now interns with IMAGO, and will be working for the next month side by side with a couple of these enterprises to launch the next stage of the work in the CBSE for Dairy (Tonk, Rajasthan) and Horticulture (Madya Pradesh). Stay tuned, the next blog will be from our new interns!