There is no denying that the ‘hurricane of change’ brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic uprooted the very foundations on which our economy was built. While some of us found shelter in the ‘eye,’ many at the ‘margins’ were left to experience multifaceted adversities. Inevitably, this ineludible change has to lead us to a question that has emerged as the guiding principle for our growth trajectory in 2022: what is the role and efficacy of the country’s development institutions in not only safeguarding those at the margins but also embedding and nurturing resilience within them and their livelihoods?
For NABFOUNDATION, a Section 8, not-for-profit, 2-year old subsidiary of NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), the answer to this question lay in the principle of Nature: As we mourn for what we lose, we also create space to welcome the new. As an organization born out of a 40-year legacy, this meant exploring new pathways for holistically empowering the rural population at a time when the entire economy had come to a standstill. Most importantly, at a policy level, this meant aligning the goals of the organization and its projects with the vision for a ‘New India.’
So how did NABFOUNDATION do this and what were the differentiating factors?
- Since livelihoods were the most impacted during the pandemic, each and every project ideated and implemented by NAB FOUNDATION in this 2- year period had the overarching theme of ‘generating sustainable livelihoods’ in an attempt to ‘covid-proof’ them. These projects were undertaken across 4 broad categories, namely- WASH, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture and Climate Change, and Handicrafts.
- As ties were severed across the country, NABFOUNDATION’s projects aimed to cover the geographically remote areas of the country by bringing in innovative, technologically driven solutions and rejoicing innovation at the grassroots. After launching the pan-India project ‘My Pad | My Right’ in one district of every state/UT in the country, and a farm-based Livelihood Education and Learning School in Meghalaya, more projects in Ladakh (Pashmina & Wool Value Chain) and for the entirety of North-East (NER Entrepreneurs’ World and Meghalaya Broom Growers OFPO) are underway.
- While social distancing became a norm, all projects of NABFOUNDATION involved a multi-stakeholder approach, not just on paper, but also on-field. After a series of online meetings, with over 50 partners including Banks, NGOs, CSR Corporates, and agri-start-ups, NABFOUNDATION has undeniably leveraged the power of convergence to furnish tangible outcomes.
- Although the marginalized communities bore the biggest brunt of the pandemic, NABFOUNDATION’s projects were designed to uplift them, their communities, and their livelihoods. To date, the projects have directly targeted SHG women, FPOs, tribal communities, and migrant populations.