The Dasra Philanthropy Week (DPW) was held in the week of the 24th Feb, with a breakout session for Tech4Dev on 29th Feb. DPW is an annual convening of non-profit leaders, philanthropists, foundations, policymakers and other key stakeholders to discuss the way forward for India’s development. In addition to the plenary sessions, there were multiple breakout sessions.
The session on Tech4Dev was for highlighting the value that technology brings to the social impact space, discussing how it allows non-profits to improve efficiency in their operations and listen to their beneficiaries better, and enhance the overall impact on the sector. The session comprised a 30 min panel discussion followed by forty-five minutes of software solution demos to an audience of around forty people. The audience was a mix of philanthropists and funders, NGOs, and software providers.
The panel discussion was moderated by Prapti Patel from Dasra and comprised Insiyah Rangwala from Antarang Foundation, Arun Kadekodi from Soft-Corner and me, from Lumen Consulting. The panel discussion revolved around the origins of Tech4Dev, the problems it is aiming to solve, experience of NGOs and software partners working with each other, and the challenges of scaling up such a platform going forward.
The demos had a format similar to speed-dating with staff from four organizations – Samanvay Foundation, Noora Health, Indus Action, and Antarang Foundation – manning a desk each and a cluster of 8-10 people interacting with each organization for 10 minutes before moving on to the next desk.
- Vivek and Arjun from Samanvay Foundation talked about their open source field service and data collection platform – Avni
- Arjun Rangarajan from Noora Health talked of using Whatsapp for training patients and their families with high-impact health skills to improve outcomes
- Mahua Bisht and Tarun Cherukuri from Indus Action demoed their technology solution for ensuring implementation of the Right to Education provisions across schools in India
- Insiyah Rangwala from Antarang Foundation shared insights on using technology for their CareerAware and CareeReady programs.
The response to both the panel discussion and the demos was positive, as evidenced by the conversations happening after the demos between the members of the audience and the panellists as well as the demo staff.
Some of the interesting questions I got during my conversations:
1. How can we use Tech4Dev open source platforms for technology in agriculture?
2. What does Tech4Dev think of a SAAS subscription model?
3. Why don’t you (ie. Tech4Dev) think of creating scrips for leveraging the existing capabilities of Google Docs, Tableau, Power BI, etc and upload these scrips for free use?
Some feedback on the session from others:
1. There could have been more time allocated to the session with some time left for Q&A after the pane discussion as well as the demos
2. Most people could visit only three demos and not all four, so maybe we could have allocated more time for the demos. (However, the time allocated was by design for keeping the demos to a short elevator pitch style format.)
3. A little more structured networking would have helped.