New Book: "India as a Pioneer of Innovation" addresses Market-Based Solutions for Poverty Reduction

India as Pioneer Book

Now available on Amazon:

Market-Based Solutions for Poverty Reduction in India 

By Brian English

The rapid increase in slum populations in India, now at 93 million, has far outpaced the impact of interventions to date. Market-based solutions have started gaining the attention of governments, international aid groups, NGOs and entrepreneurs as they look for new ways to scale up their impact and sustain their interventions. Thousands of new social enterprises that seek to provide social benefits, and sustain largely on business revenues, have sprung up in response. These initiatives are welcome news to governments and donors with tighter budgets. And their rapid proliferation has attracted the attention of impact investors looking to create the next microfinance industry.

India has been a beacon of innovation in market-based poverty reduction, creating enterprises that span from sanitation to education improvements. This chapter profiles two case studies of market-based solutions in India that provide some important lessons for others fostering similar initiatives: 1) LabourNet, a social enterprise that provides vocational skills for informal-sector workers. It began in Bangalore and has now scaled up to thirteen regions of India; and 2) the Trash to Treasure programme, which started as a pilot to test enterprise models for recycling waste in Bangalore and has evolved into a network of organisations that are establishing one of India’s first city-wide recycling programmes. Both cases demonstrate how partnerships between local government and social enterprises can deliver large-scale results. Both cases also show how important the enabling environment is to these supply-driven enterprises, in addition to fine-tuning their business models.

Read the full chapter:

Accelerating Innovation through 'Young Leaders Awards' at Habitat III, Quito

The growing youth demographic in many countries is a phenomenon that will be reckoned with for generations. To turn the youth bulge into a demographic dividend, countries need to focus on policies that develop this human capital and their full citizenship.

In the run-up to the UN Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador, November 17-20, 2016, the Mega-Cities Project organized a global competition to identify Young Leaders that are implementing creative solutions to urban challenges at the intersection of poverty, environment and voice. Global Communities shared this opportunity with Francisco Javier Sequeira Rankin, a young leader supported by USAID’s Municipal Governance Program (MGP) who has been successful in strengthening youth civic engagement through the Bluefield’s Indian & Caribbean University (BICU) Observatory for Human Rights and Autonomy (OHRA). Francisco was one of two Young Leaders selected from candidates who applied across the Americas, Africa and Asia.


Over the past four years, MGP has supported BICU-OHRA in their pursuit to strengthen the Adolescents and Youth Municipal Councils (COMAJ) in four municipalities in the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, the region with the highest poverty rate in the country and home to the majority of indigenous and afro-descendant populations. This initiative has brought together more than 450 young people (58% women) to promote critical analysis of their interests and supports their interaction with the Municipal Government to raise their demands and exercise their rights. The COMAJ are democratically elected bodies made up of members aged 15-29.  The COMAJ motivate the youth to get involved in good governance practices and gives them an opportunity to take a leadership role in their communities. Through constant coaching and mentoring, the COMAJ youth are trained in a variety of skills, including project management, advocacy, and gender equality, preparing this cadre of young leaders to engage with the municipality and civil society organizations. This gives the members of the COMAJ a greater understanding of needs in their communities, how to create projects to meet these needs, and how to establish local partnerships to achieve them. The impact of this program has led to some system changing solutions, such as youth focused projects that are now being included in the budgets of municipalities and the budget planning process. Projects already financed by the Municipalities include recreational parks and gymnasium upgrades and funds for cultural events.


In addition to these efforts, since 2014, the Observatory for Human Right of BICU has been coordinating the Youth Roundtable, which creates more effective joint efforts on adolescents and youth issues by coordinating multi-sector dialogues between organizations working in this space. This effort has led local authorities to start building the Regional Youth Development Policy.


The Mega-Cities Project selected Francisco and the Youth Program because of their leadership in the region, their demonstration of system challenging ideas, and their progress is scaling solutions into policy. The Youth Program is creating young leaders and social entrepreneurs which can inspire other similar movements. Mega Cities and Global Communities selected Francisco and the Youth Program as both an effective and inspiring example the types of initiatives communities across the globe need.


Francisco shared his story with 100s of people at a lively and highly engaged audience in a Networking Session of the UN Habitat III conference on Youth Initiatives in the Quest for Urban Inclusion: Emerging Voices and Networks, October 18, 2016. Francisco’s story was also broadcast by media in the region.