HEART 'N' SOIL
Mrida works in remote rural areas, using agriculture, energy access, skill development, health and related interventions as entry point development triggers. As a systems integrator and a catalyst, we then use these triggers to facilitate community engagement, livelihoods, women’s empowerment, education and so on, leading to all-around development.
Building on the Corporate background and experience of our promoters, the objective is to bring the same discipline and the financial rigor of the business world into the development sector, showcasing business led social impact that is sustainable and scalable. Through its Section 8 (not-for-profit company), the Mrida Heart ‘N Soil Foundation, Mrida partners with corporate entities to develop and implement customized, integrated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. The focus is again on a ‘business approach’ – treating CSR funds as ‘investments’, with quantified impact assessment and ROI calculations as an integral part of every intervention.
Strategy & Vision.
Facilitating a long-term Strategic Planning and Visioning exercise for CSR that brings all concerned onto a common platform
Operationalizing the Strategy/Vision in the form of a clearly defined roadmap with timelines, deliverables, and targeted, measurable impact in the short, medium and long term. This roadmap should be one that has the buy-in of the operational team, senior management, and Board level CSR Committee.
Developing a reporting, tracking and monitoring mechanism which will progressively bring CSR at par with any other mainstream function in the organization and subject to the same degree and rigor of management review.
Given that CSR is a new and evolving area, independently conducting quarterly field audits and facilitating detailed periodic internal reviews of the overall CSR strategy and operation is necessary. Using this information, we can recommend and implement strategy correction corrections.
We facilitate a comprehensive Annual CSR Review as a base for Board reporting and approval and to ensure compliance under the Companies Act. We work in a manner that makes any organization a model of Corporate Governance with regard to CSR.
Sharing Best Practices.
Based on Mrida’s ongoing work in the Social Sector across organizations and geographic areas, we establish benchmarks and share best practices from our monitoring and reviews, while making course corrections that may be required along the way.
This is typically an area of concern for management and needs to be addressed with specific focus and priority. Drawing on our past experiences and observations in other organizations, we propose innovative methods to bring in employee engagement and interest spontaneously.
Each CSR partnership includes a process of formal impact assessment and documentation. We create an ‘Index’ that summarizes the impact of CSR initiatives under broad issues such as infrastructure, social, environmental, and economic development. Then, we calculate a comprehensive index which can be tracked to measure the ongoing impact of the overall CSR Program.
Inadequate transportation, particularly in remote villages, prevents many Indians from enrolling in school, accessing healthcare services, and participating in the free market. Mrida’s Electric Rickshaw (E-Rickshaw) improves transportation opportunities for villagers, while allowing an enterprising village member to become a Village Level Entrepreneur.
HEATH & SANITATION
Mrida also seeks to address health, hygiene and sanitation issues as part of its holistic rural development efforts. This ranges between installing toilets, opening health camps, and sanitation training. The Mrida E-Hubs are an integral part of promoting awareness on health issues.
Many rural villages lack adequate community lighting. Solar LED Streetlights improve both roadside and personal safety, allowing villagers to navigate the night with ease and also engage in community activities during the evenings. Villagers are briefed on proper maintenance and upkeep procedure to ensure that the lights remain functional over time.
Agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy. Over 58 per cent of the rural households depend on agriculture for their livelihood. We use a range of initiatives like soil testing, seed selection, seed treatment, farmer counselling, vegetable cultivation, agricultural yield improvement, and more to improve farmers’ yields. Additionally we use activities such as beekeeping and mushroom cultivation provide farmers with additional income without using much land.
DC SOLAR MICROGRIDS
Over 200 million Indians lack access to electricity and depend on kerosene and biomass for their lighting requirements (International Energy Agency, 2012). Kerosene is not only a poor source of illumination; it is highly toxic, environmentally unfriendly, and expensive. The Mrida microgrid provides two energy efficient LED bulbs and a mobile charging point for up to 25-30 rural households. These grids can be set up within three days in the remotest of rural areas, and are then run by local Village Development Committees. VDC members maintain the grid and collect small fees for electricity usage. For the villagers, this system is not only cheaper but provides greater and more reliable access to electricity.
DC SOLAR MICROGRIDS
The E-Hub is an innovative education, entertainment and e-commerce package including a solar-powered tablet, HD projector, laptop, color printer, and educational software. It provides villagers with Wi-Fi, printing, online Government documentation, e-ticketing, entertainment, and so on. The system also supplements classroom learning with a software that facilitates lessons in English, Hindi, Science, and Math. Participants also have the opportunity to develop basic computer skills. Once installed, experts from Mrida train a Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE) on maintenance and operations of the E-Hub, providing an income for the VLE, and simultaneously providing services for the rest of the village.
SKILLING & LIVELIHOOD
Mrida also works on holistic rural development initiatives as a part of CSR interventions for corporate groups and entities. In such cases, the Mrida team supports and facilitates projects such as improved cultivation and irrigation techniques for enhanced crop productivity, entrepreneurship and skill development. Participants are provided with training, logistics and supply chain inputs, institutional support and market linkages leading to the development of new businesses and sustainable livelihoods.