About INgene blog : First ever Indian Youth trend Insights blog
This blog explores the detailed characteristics of Young-India and explains the finer & crucial differences they have with their global peers. The blog also establishes the theory of “adopted differentiation” (Copyright Kaustav SG,2007) and how the Indian & Inglodian youth are using this as a tool to differentiate themselves from the “aam aadmi” (mass population of India) to establish their new found identity.
The term youth refers to persons who are no longer children and not yet adults. Used colloquially, however the term generally refers to a broader, more ambiguous field of reference- from the physically adolescent to those in their late twenties.
Though superficially the youth all over the world exhibits similar [degree of] attitude, [traits of] interests & [deliverance of] opinion but a detailed observation reveals the finer differential characteristics which are crucial and often ignored while targeting this group as a valued consumer base. India is one of the youngest countries in the world with 60% of its population less then 24 years of age and is charted as the most prospective destination for the retail investment in the A. T. Kearney’s Global Retail Opportunity Report, 2007. With the first ever non-socialistic generation’s thriving aspiration & new found money power combined with steadily growing GDP, bubbling IT industry and increasing list of confident young entrepreneurs, the scenario appears very lucrative for the global and local retailers to target the “Youngisthan” (young-India). But, the secret remains in the understanding of the finer AIOs of this generation. The Indian youth segment roughly estimates close to 250million (between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five) and can be broadly divided (socio-psychologically) into three categories: the Bharatiyas, the Indians & the Inglodians (copyright Kaustav SG 2008). The Bharatiyas estimating 67% of the young population lives in the rural (R1, R2 to R4 SEC) areas with least influence of globalization, high traditional values. They are least economically privileged, most family oriented Bollywood influenced generation. The Indians constitute 31.5% (A, B,C, D & E SEC) and have moderate global influence. They are well aware of the global trends but rooted to the Indian family values, customs and ethos. The Inglodians are basically the creamy layers (A1,A SEC) and marginal (1.5% or roughly three million) in number though they are strongly growing (70% growth rate). Inglodians are affluent and consume most of the trendy & luxury items. They are internet savvy & the believers of global-village (a place where there is no difference between east & west, developing & developed countries etc.), highly influenced by the western music, food, fashion & culture yet Indian at heart.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Nuovue Riche youth of India are buying “luxury” in discount! The rich segment is getting distinctly classified and “traditionally rich” and “new rich” and both clusters are consciously becoming distinct through lifestyle, AIO and fashion, following my theory of adopted differentiation.
Here’s a website selling discounted perfumes!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
(Dheeraj Sinha, Chief Strategy Officer, Bates 141, is a passionate miner of consumer minds. One manifestation of this passion is his book ‘Consumer India: Inside the Indian Mind and Wallet', launched at Mumbai hangout Blue Frog on March 11. Billed as a practitioner's account of what the Indian consumer wants, the book is an enjoyable read, rewarding in insights and rich in perspective. In conversation with BrandLine, the author dwells on some issues addressed in the book, and what the takeaways for marketers could be. Excerpts here from The Hindu, Business Line)
Youth Brands Vs Youthful Brands
There are far more young-looking brands in India than there are brands for the youth. Given India's large young population, that's a huge disappointment.
In apparel, for example, there are no true blue youth brands. There's an opportunity for youth brands, not the ‘youthful' brands that the Levi's and Nike are becoming. We have a young population that buys apparel through multiple formats of unorganised retail, which stock clothes for people from all walks of life. There's a huge opportunity for retailers to dip into that and make an opportunity out of it.
There's an opportunity in telecom, apparel, food and restaurant retailing. Some part of it is being addressed by the Café Coffee Days and Baristas of the world. They are, in a way, evidence that catering to this segment can prove profitable. What if we had a chain of dating restaurants?
In insurance, what if we don't sell retirement plans to young India, but an ‘entrepreneurship plan'? Can we encourage youth to start saving for that?
We need to look at youth as a separate segment and not address them with brands that are ‘youthful'. Merely having a younger-looking brand ambassador and advertising does not mean you are targeting the youth. Marketers need to get that clear.
India is big, India is growing. Creating a product that will cater to a billion Indian customers at one go is simply not possible. At the same time, hyper-segmenting can be detrimental in a market like India.
A mid-way segmentation, with three big segments, is what I think works. In that segmentation, the partition segment provides the biggest opportunity. When we talk about India, we do not talk about that segment at all.
We say India is young and every brand wants to become youthful. State Bank of India has done a huge campaign trying to look youthful, while there is enough evidence to show that people in the age group of 45 to 65 years have saved money, in part because they felt their sons or daughters may not turn out the way they wanted them to. They have a huge amount of savings and they want to spend that money.
The net result is that second homes are becoming far more popular. LIC is building old age homes. There is huge scope for luxury in several categories such as hospitals and insurance plans that are far more padded.
In advertising today, older people are mostly used as jokers, if at all. Not all brands need to look young. In a banking relationship, I would expect warmth, trust, and expect to be taken care of. I am not expecting a yuppie, yo! looking relationship manager!
Somehow we have this obsession with youth and tend to paint every brand with the same brush stroke.
Most talk about India centres on the bottom of the pyramid. In 2008-09, Audi had a growth rate of 68 per cent. Top-end brands in the premium segment are doing very well. If we do an overlap of premium and youth, that is again a huge segment.
There is a segment of first- and second-generation entrepreneurs with far more money to spend. There are young people getting into sexier jobs with high incomes. Not many brands have targeted this segment dedicatedly. Few exceptions do exist. I would say Max Bupa is the first premium insurance brand in the country. I would imagine there is a huge opportunity for a premium telecom brand. Hypothetically, if Kingfisher was to launch a Kingfisher First mobile service, it would have to be far more differentiated than what the average cellular service gives you.
We can pretty much take any category, carve out a premium segment and create a differentiated offering for them. Targeting the upper end would allow brands to offer services they would otherwise not be able to add. A number of additions have happened at the premium end in apparel and automobiles, but there are many other categories which haven't been tapped.
The biggest myth about rural India is that it looks for purely functional benefits — it has, for long, been looked at as part of only the bottom of the pyramid. We did extensive research in rural India. We found, for instance, Pantene sachets in rural households that did not even have a television.
One reason Tata Nano has not taken off is because it was seen as a cheap car. That's a symbol enough to say that even that segment of buyers is seeking a premium, in the sense that they are seeking an upgrade, and not value for money. Value has to fall into place but it is one of the drivers, not the only driver.
Brands, in the rural space, need to add a bit of imagery to themselves. Those consumers are reaching out to brands that are giving them that sense of premium. We see that across the spectrum, from shampoos and deodorants to mobile handsets. Rural India is seeking a sense of moving up in life, a sense of pride.
Women in rural India are saying, ‘Yes, I am married. I wanted to become a teacher but ended up as a housewife. But within the boundaries of my family life and responsibilities, can I start doing tuitions?' That's again a progressive mindset. There are women in rural India who want to start a small beauty treatment business while managing the home. What we see is that this sense of progress is even more in rural India. Unfortunately, a large segment of marketers are lagging in their understanding of rural India, and driven by stereotypes.
Why the Book?
Most titles in the deluge of books on Indian consumers suffer from the problem of painting the larger India picture — of explaining how we have come from being a British colonial state to becoming this power house. They write about it in awe, singing the ‘Slumdog Millionaire' tune.
I have tried to write about India ground up, and drill deep, getting into specific consumer segments, and map the changes that are happening in those segments. The belief is that once the point of view is available, we can reach out to them with products and services created for those untapped segments.
There is a chance, and maybe even a good one, that you'll walk into work one Monday morning and find out your job is being moved to China or India. Millions have already seen that happen, from shop-floor machinists to IT specialists, in places as disparate as Italy, the U.S. and South Korea. China is a manufacturing machine, charging into the global market for everything from cars to solar panels. India's highly trained engineers are outdueling Stanford grads for jobs in R&D, software development and other sectors that are supposed to be the West's economic salvation. The harsh realities of the globalization of labor have left much of the world's workforce feeling despondent. Everyone in places like London and Los Angeles is competing with smart applicants from Bangalore or Shanghai who are willing to work long hours for a pittance. When there are 2.5 billion people in those two Asian giants combined, how can anyone's job be safe?
Yet there's another way of looking at the great shift of economic power to the East, one that is much less scary and perhaps even inspiring. Those 2.5 billion people are getting richer by the day. This presents an unprecedented opportunity for the workers of the world.
Thirty years ago, the average person in China or India could afford almost nothing beyond basic food and other simple necessities of life. That poverty was a problem for all of us. With so little spending power in the developing world, the global economy was dependent on a handful of wealthy nations, especially the U.S. Today, however, China and India have become a new source of growth for the global economy. Hundreds of millions of Chinese and Indians can now splurge on Sony LCD TVs, Australian steaks and Apple iPhones. Last year, Indians and Chinese bought 19.9 million new passenger vehicles, 70% more than Americans did, according to J.D. Power. This new bonanza for consumer goods increases demand for copper, cotton and other natural resources; the machinery to manufacture those goods; the ships and trucks to transport them; and the people to design and sell them. The result is higher sales and bigger profits for companies such as Boeing and Rio Tinto, as well as more jobs.
We've already seen the benefits. If not for the continued rapid growth in emerging economies like China and India, the world might easily have descended into a real depression in 2008. China lifted all of East Asia out of the recession by buying capital equipment and consumer goods from Japan, South Korea and the rest of the region. U.S. exports of goods to China reached $92 billion in 2010, a 32% jump. The influence of China and India will only spread and strengthen as the two countries get wealthier and purchase more from the rest of the world. In Western Australia, the local chamber of minerals and energy believes the industry will create 40,000 jobs over the next three to five years in that state alone, in part because of expanding exports to China.
The newly rich of China and India are also bringing their money right to your doorstep. Their citizens are becoming active tourists, filling hotel rooms and dining out in Times Square and Tokyo's Ginza. According to the U.N. World Tourism Organization, the number of Chinese traveling outside the country rose to 47.7 million in 2009, 54% more than in 2005, and they spent more than French, Japanese or Canadian travelers. Chinese and Indian companies are expanding overseas in a quest for global presence and markets, creating jobs everywhere. Mumbai-based IT giant Tata Consultancy Services — a firm built on outsourcing from the U.S. and Europe — employs more than 13,000 non-Indians, nine times as many as in 2005. Chinese firms invested $56.5 billion abroad in 2009, up from only $12.3 billion in 2005, and they tend to hire locally as they invest, to absorb talent and know-how. Not one of the 450 people who work in the U.S. for Chinese appliance maker Haier is from China.
The advance of China and India demands an overhaul in the way we think about jobs. You might just find, for example, that your biggest customers are in Chengdu, not Chicago, or that your boss sits in New Delhi, not New York City. Your paycheck could come in renminbi or rupees instead of in euros or dollars. Sure, in this new economic order, your job may be lost to Chinese or Indian workers. But don't worry. They'll give it right back.
Sindhuja Rajaraman, a ninth standard student has become the world's youngest Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
The 14-year old girl became the head of Seppan Company, an animation firm, in October 2010. The company was set up by her father.
She was adjudged the fastest 2D and 3D animator by software lobby NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services Companies) at the Gaming and Animation Conclave 2010 held in Hyderabad.
"I am just proud to be an animator. The CEO is just a post given in this company," Rajaraman.
"I am learning animation for this CEO post to make myself worthy for the CEO post," she said. "There is no age bar or age limit for animation. Everybody can do animation."
"The scope for animation in India is growing everyday. There is going to be a big boom in India and all industries are into the animation, they need animation and multimedia. I am enjoying work and I am also getting challenging works," she added.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
is this the symptom of near-death or else why they are so desperate to lure more young Indians?
Image source: Facebook page
Sunday, March 20, 2011
In movies, Bollywood is the clear choice of this generation – two out of three prefer the fare dished out by Mumbai’s Tinsel Town. Another one in five, say regional cinema is their preferred choice of entertainment. This trend is particularly strong in the south – in Hyderabad, almost nine out of 10 (88%) and in Chennai, seven out of 10 (72%) vote for local cinema.
“Many people in previous generations either thought Bollywood was low brow and, therefore, not worthy of their attention, or were shy of admitting their love for it. But this generation has no such inhibitions. It’s a sign of our growing confidence as a nation,” says Sukhdev Bhattacharya, retired professor of psychology of NBU.
Their choice of music is also decidedly Indian – 56% prefer Bollywood music, 13% Indian classical and 11% Indi-pop. But western music (pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B) is also quite popular – 20% of youth list one of these genres as their favourite.
Sartorially, be Indian, wear Indian is the motto of 18-25 women. A majority (52.9%) wears salwar kameez, but a large minority (one in three) prefers jeans and Ts.
And how do young Indians spend their spare time? By watching TV (34.3% list this as their favourite spare time activity), spending time with friends (18.4%) and listening to music (16.9%). But reading (8.5%), surfing the internet (8.4%) and sports (4.2%) aren’t very popular past times.
Today’s youth is very interested in current affairs. More than 50% of youth read newspapers for 15 minutes to an hour every day. Another 35% read papers for less than 15 minutes a day. But one out of eight don’t read papers at all. Nine out of 10 young Indians don’t smoke or drink. And drugs? It’s not even a topic for debate. Only 12.3% of respondents say marijuana should be legalised, while another 15% believe it should be legalised for medical purposes only.
But youth in Bhubaneswar broke ranks with their peers across the country. A fairly high 37% of males and 32% of females want marijuana legalised. Guwahati (27.5%), Hyderabad (23.5%) and Kolkata (22.9%) are the three other cities where there is a reasonable degree of support for marijuana.
The numbers are not alarming, says Juju Basu, creative director of Contract Advertising. “India’s always had a significant hemp culture. Our sadhus are always smoking it and the hippy movement of the 1960s was very prominent here,” he adds.
If anything, he’s surprised the numbers aren’t higher. The current generation of 18-25-year-olds are, after all, kids of the Hare-Rama-Hare-Krishna generation, and going against the norms of older generations is, perhaps, every youth group’s one driving force.
But one thing that’s clear is that this generation seems to be full of what our parents generally term “good kids”. Rebels with (or without) a cause seem like a thing of the past.Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/chunk-ht-ui-youthsurvey-topstories/Not-rebels-but-Mama-s-boys-and-girls/Article1-655680.aspx
Indian youth prefers mobile to Facebook to break the big news-The Hindustan Times survey report
If you needed proof that India has missed the Internet bus, here is one more. The Indian youth does not make big announcements on Facebook or Twitter or e-mail. Instead, it prefers the mobile phone.
This finding was published this morning by The Hindustan Times which conducted as survey of Indian youth across 18 cities. The finding showed that 35.1% of the Indian youth aged between 18 to 25 years gets on to the mobile phone to communicate important information.
The SMS is the next popular device. It is used by 27.1 % of the Indian youngsters to communicate. The two modes add up to 62%, establishing that this generation of Indian youth can be called the mobile phone generation.
Interestingly, person to person communication is still alive, and 22.2% of the youth like to communicate important information personally.
The Facebook, which has emerged as India’s number one social media site, is used by 10.1% of the youth. E-mail surprisingly is not considered as so personal. Barely 3.6% use e-mail for major personal announcements. Twitter too is not too popular, with only 2.2% of the youth tweeting what matters to them.
Nielsen released part of its Mobile Youth Around The World report in a blog post. Nielsen studied patterns in 9 countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, Vietnam, Germany, U.S., U.K., Spain and Italy. The report tries to establish phone preferences, purchase drivers, data usage etc. And tries to demonstrate how local factors, culture, economy etc have an influence on mobile usage.
The part released in the recent post compared three factors across the 9 countries – Data consumption, Connection type preference (prepaid/postpaid) and multiple SIM usage.
Advanced Data Usage
China had the highest number ‘Advanced Data Users’ and India was at the bottom of the pile with only 13%. And by some distance, the next lowest was Brazil with 40%. But India did report the highest percentage of SMS/Voice Users and Voice only Users. Highlighting the scope for Voice and SMS based VAS. China on the other hand had a mere 2% of voice only users. Also interesting is that China pipped US to the No.1 spot. I’d be interested in seeing these numbers again after large scale 3G adoption though. How much data can we really consume at 2/2.5G speeds. The other way to look at it is in terms of how much potential there still is.
Prepaid Vs Postpaid
97% used Prepaid connections, which is no real surprise at all. Note, that all BRIC countries had 85% plus prepaid users. While US and the European countries were all below 60%. In fact,In US less than a quarter of the youth had prepaid connections. Part of the same study revealed that 35% of Indians aged 15-19 and 54% aged 20-24 paid for their own mobile connections.
Given the number of people that seem to have multiple SIMs, I’m a little surprised that only 15% of the Indian youth said they had multiple SIM cards. Of course, if you look at raw numbers, 15% would still be a pretty large number here. Only China had a lower percentage of people using multiple SIM cards, again 14% there would be a huge number too.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Post world war west influenced Japan has also gone through similar revolution where the ‘nouveau riche’ yet “rebellious” youth (from growing working class) were becoming stronger and ‘more visible’ due to economic revolution and rapid twist.
The Blackberry boom and luxury brand rage (as well as their counterfeits!) among youth and young adults in India is one instance for being the nav.
The Chav culture is IN in INDIA and the young wealthy generation is clearly divided into the royal rich and nouveau.
More more detailed discussion please contact me at : firstname.lastname@example.org
India’s nouveau riche drink in the high life
By Katy Daigle Feb 24, 2011 12:32AM
NEW DELHI — They’re wealthy, well-traveled, cosmopolitan — and thirsty.
India’s growing upper class wants high-end liquors and fine wines that define “the good life” they’ve seen on European vacations and in Hollywood films. The old habit of slinging a measure of cheap local rum into a cup of cola simply won’t do.
“Life is swinging! If we can afford the best, why not have it?” says Vikrant Nath, a 49-year-old event planner.
For some, the booming economy there has put more money in their pockets: The number of Indians worth at least $1 million rose 51 percent in 2009 to 126,000.
There has always been a market in India for low-quality booze, mainly among men, despite religious and cultural taboos. Independence hero Mohandas K. Gandhi called alcohol “the enemy of mankind, the curse of civilization.”
Now, old local favorites such as Old Monk rum and Bagpiper whiskey are sharing shelf space with world-class scotch from Johnny Walker and Macallan. Last year the industry-standard “Whisky Bible” named an Indian whiskey — Amrut Single Malt — the world’s third best.
“I just love the sexiness of a cocktail!” says Puneeta Khanna, 43.
But, she admits, she would never drink in front of her mother-in-law. AP
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
(zoom to read the discussion)
Source: Facebook page of Kaustav SenGupta
The recession and the mythical fear of the ‘pink slip’ that accompanied it actually made the youth in India more confident and motivated about starting up their own businesses rather than looking for jobs. They became more focused on entrepreneurship and self-driven ‘out of the box’ career prospects. They now consider themselves a part of the global talent pool, and the rest of the world has recognized their creativity, innovative ideas and skills. The internet, media and ‘reality shows’ are giving them the opportunity to showcase all this before a large audience.
Venture capitalist and Silicon Valley tycoon Kanwal Rekhi says that “Recession is the best time to be an investor and an entrepreneur”. In The Journal of Entrepreneurship, a research study by Nancy M Levenburg and Thomas V Schwarz under the title “Entrepreneurial Orientation among the Youth of India- The Impact of Culture, Education and Environment” states that “Despite a combination of social structures and cultural values within India that historically constrained entrepreneurship, a number of efforts in recent years seem to have significantly shifted the national mindset regarding entrepreneurship, particularly among India's youth who were found to demonstrate a significantly higher level of interest in starting new ventures than their US counterparts.” Accidental young entrepreneurs have discovered the value of using technology-aided collective intelligence to become successful with minimal investment and maximum exposure. Grassroot innovations and macro-finance-related businesses are growing faster as the young entrepreneurs increasingly understand the hidden treasures in rural India.
Moreover, the post-recession U-turn staged by many successful young NRIs has added to the knowledge resource and growth in many industries. Cities like Pune and Bangalore are now dotted with startups launched by NRIs who now want to invest in India due to its cheaper knowledge base, skills availability and steady economic growth.
more references to read: http://www.englishforums.com/English/GlobalRecessionIndiasYouth/lwwnm/post.htm
It is not often that somebody talks of design and social development in the same breath, as equal partners. But for Achyutha Sharma, creative arts and design are powerful tools that can be harnessed to generate tremendous social impact. An alumnus of NIFT Delhi, Achyutha donned multiple roles as a fashion designer, graphic designer, retail designer and branding and strategy consultant before he decided to blend his love for multi-disciplinary design with his passion for communities and founded Sulochana Development Trust as a platform for the creative community to come together and work for a common vision.
DezineConnect talked to this young creative entrepreneur, about the genesis of his venture, the challenges in working in the social sector and his vision for creative economy.
How did Sulochana Development Trust come about?
After working as a consultant, I launched my own entrepreneurial venture called Antahkaran, which means ‘insight’ in Sanskrit. It is an art organization that customizes art for spaces. Part of the profits was to go for art education for the underprivileged. But when I had to donate that fund, I could not find any charitable organization that was very serious about the fund. So I decided to put together a trust to channel these funds. And that is how Sulochana Development Trust was formed. It started with the idea of offering creative help to organizations in the social sector. But as I talked to industry leaders, met more people and brainstormed over this idea, I realized that there is a huge gap in the creative community itself. Our role as a creative designer has changed. We are constantly seduced to think in a certain way, force people to consume more. In my own work, I had constantly found myself questioning ‘is my work meaningful? Where is my work leading?’ So after my research, iterations with industry leaders, I decided that Sulochana Trust would focus on creative arts and design that makes a holistic development impact in India. The long-term goal is to create a vision of the creative economy and integrate that with India’s development.
Can you elaborate a little on creative economy?
Creative Economy basically implies that anything, which is creative or idea-based that generates money is part of the economy. The world is moving from a capitalist economy to a knowledge economy to a creative economy, where we are saying that it is not just about economic variables but also creative variables. The British Government is one of the few governments that have adopted the Creative Economy policy so far. But what the British Government does is that it recognizes the contribution of the creative industry to the overall economy. What we want is to not only recognize the creative industry, but also create policies that integrate creative arts and socio-cultural contextualization into the economic policy. In India we are going through a development phase that industrialized nations went through 20 years back. And we are following a similar path. In the process, we are losing a lot of socio-cultural ideas, practices and values that came through our own history and culture. So we are saying that creative economy is not just about recognition of the creative industry but also a certain amount of contextualization in terms of our development.
What exactly is your idea of ‘recognition’ for the creative industry?
Creative industry is not recognized as an industry. Like for example, telecommunication or petrochemicals. These are recognized as industries and there are policies formed to promote these industries. There is nothing similar done for creative industry by the Indian Government. Design agencies, advertising agencies or other creative firms are not recognized as part of the economy. Interestingly, around 4 years back the Government asked British Council to carry out research about creative economy in India. They did extensive research, but they could not get even ten large scale companies together to say that ‘we are part of the creative industry’. So the Government very clearly said, “if you can’t get X number of industries together, if you can’t show that this industry is churning out X amount of money annually, supporting X number of livelihoods, then we cannot recognize creative industry. There is no platform, there is no community; there are no industries ready to come together. How can we recognize it as an industry?” And the creative economy report was dumped by the planning commission. But we still do see an opportunity there. We have realized that first we need to show creative arts projects that make measurable impact and prove it to the government. And secondly, we have to show that more organizations have come together for the creative economy vision and want to be recognized as part of creative industry, so that it becomes imperative for the government to recognize it.
What role does Sulochana Development Trust play in this whole vision?
At Sulochana Trust, we have defined four development contexts – social relevance, economic sustainability, ecological balance and socio-cultural contextualization. The trust plays three roles – create, incubate and align. We “create” projects that show a measurable impact of creative arts and design in the social or development sector. We “incubate” ventures that are primarily focused on creative entrepreneurship but also make a development impact in any of the four contexts. And then we would “align” more and more organizations to the creative economy concept. What we are hoping to do around 5-10 years down the line is to ink down a creative economy vision accord, which is like an MoU that people can ratify. Organizations can sign it and say ‘we will align our operations according to the creative economy concept’; And Sulochana Trust will provide them a broad framework of how they can align with the creative economy concept. Once we have this document ratified by organizations and people all over India, it would make a fragmented industry come together under one platform. It would also create awareness and help us to convince the government to adopt Creative Economy as a policy. But this intervention is not a blanket intervention; it will take time as many stakeholders at different levels are involved while working towards our vision.
What are the biggest challenges that you face in running the trust?
One of the biggest challenges we face is funding. Nobody is ready to fund creative arts and design because they think that is like an indulgence, a hobby. They would rather donate the money to organizations working for disaster relief or feeding the poor or education or healthcare. They feel creative arts is not a priority. So we decided that instead of pitching for funding, we would create projects that generate revenue for the trust. Right now we are putting in our own money to flag off initiatives like ‘Collaborative Community’, where we offer creative consultancy services to non-profit organizations to get revenue for the trust. Also, when we incubate ventures we tell them that once they become sustainable, they should donate a certain percentage of their revenue to Sulochana Trust. So we will have revenue coming from projects that we create and from the ventures that we incubate. That is how we see the trust growing without depending on any external funding.
Can you tell us something about the ‘Collaborative Community’ initiative?
‘Collaborative Community’ offers creative consultancy services to non-profit organizations and for-profits with social impact. A lot of non-profits and for-profits need help in terms of branding, design innovation and strategy; and they don’t have access to that in an easy way. Generally they get freelancers on board but it is quite fragmented. So we have a one-stop shop model of offering these services for lesser money. We charge them money according to the revenue they generate. An organization that is very well funded will be charged a higher amount than an NGO that is not well funded. We are trying to get more and more creative people also to offer their skills on a part-time basis on these projects. We offer branding and strategy in design communication and retail. In terms of design, we offer communication, furniture, spaces, crafts, textiles – many different disciplines.
How big is the team at Sulochana Development Trust?
We are 4 people. Besides that, we have 3 trustees and 5 more people on the Board of Advisors. Everybody is doing a regular job and contributing to the trust on a part-time basis. It is quite a task to convince people to devote their precious time on a voluntary basis.
If I am a designer or a creative artiste, how can I be associated with Sulochana Development Trust?
Oh, there are plenty of ways! It depends on which one you want – create, incubate or align. If you are running an organization and want to align, you can sign our creative economy agreement to promote creative economy. If you are a creative person who wants to incubate an idea and turn it into an entrepreneurial venture, we will review your idea and then get you on board, connect you with the right people, nurture your idea, put together a business plan and also help you to pitch for funding. That is the opportunity under the incubate vertical. And if you are a creative person or designer who wants to start a project that makes a social impact, then Sulochana Trust can help you launch it. We intend to collaborate with creative people. We don’t intend to adopt them and treat them like they need to be told to do everything in a certain way.
Where do you draw the line between ‘projects for social change’ and ‘creative projects for social change’?
The project has to be from one of the disciplines of creative arts or design. We don’t look at every development field. For example, I don’t think we will really be participating in the healthcare sector, until and unless a healthcare organization, an NGO, wants help in terms of branding, marketing or communication from us, in which case it will come under Collaborative Community. But we want to support creative arts and design, and we are focused on that; because we definitely see a lack of opportunity for creative people to nurture their skills and look at something that is more meaningful in impact.
You talked about ‘measurable impact’. In terms of social projects, what is the yardstick for measuring impact and success?
It is difficult to measure social impact in terms of numbers. But I think it is generally not being initiated. Nobody is really thinking, “Can creative arts make a measurable impact? Do we need to really measure the impact? Do we need to document it?” But we feel the need to do that in order to prove to the Government. The Government wants numbers and statistics, and if we have to push our way through that, we have to measure the impact. An example that I can give is the Art Education Curriculum that we are currently developing. It is a curriculum that can be adopted by non-profit organizations for under-privileged children. We have just launched the pilot project and we are testing the curriculum. Once we test it, we will know how it works on ground. Then we can make alternative changes, incorporate feedback and fine-tune it further to make it flexible and adaptable to different regions. We are still in the process of fine-tuning it to get it adopted. Once at least 5 non-profits have adopted it, we will know that a particular number of children are undergoing art education. We will know how many children are progressing within the curriculum modules and we will have a documentation of their assessment and improvement forms. With all this tangible evidence, we can measure the impact of the project.
Where do you see Sulochana Development Trust in the future?
I definitely look at scaling up Sulochana Trust; getting more and more people under Sulochana Trust to work and show measurable impact and more organizations to be aligned. Right now we are focusing on building Collaborative Community and Art Education Fund. But we are also talking to British Council about kicking off a creative economy campaign in campuses and organizations. We are on a learning curve. We are developing practices and revenue models that can generate revenue for us; we are trying all corners to get the trust running more actively. But we need to be patient, especially when it is for a development impact. It takes time in India. As young people, we sometimes become very impatient and we want to give up very soon. I have experienced that myself.
Besides time, what are the other key factors that matter in social projects?
Social projects are about multiple stakeholders. How you involve different stakeholders from different strata and get them to agree to one idea, one vision, is a huge task. We can convince creative people. We can also convince certain social sector people. But to convince the local authorities, government bodies, municipal people, the villagers and the local people, to align them to a certain idea and to motivate them; that is something we are trying to learn to do successfully. Secondly, I think, it is also about the ecosystem. There are very few support mechanisms of finance, teams or institutions that will support you. There is a compete lack of ecosystem for us to take this forward within the social impact sphere.
People generally have the impression that social work is something that you do at a later stage of your career or when you have enough money. How is it working in the social sector at such a young age?
I wouldn’t say I am the only one. I have been meeting a lot of social entrepreneurs who are very young, just 24 or 25 year old. They have done amazing work in the social sector. But yes, it is a huge financial constraint; especially for people who don’t have that kind of financial support. I completely understand why they should do it at a later stage. But I also think it is highly unfair to assume that somebody working in the social sector should not expect money. We are not ready to pay a CEO of a social organization 10 crores a year. But we are ready to pay a CEO of, say, Coca Cola 20 crores a year. Someone who is working in the social sector equally deserves to get well paid. Although a lot of social sector organizations have huge funding, they refuse to pay certain people for the right talent. That is something where the social sector needs to go through a change. And I am sure it will.
JAM (just a minute…)
What is the best moment of the day?
When I get a sense of reassurance that I am on the right path.
If there were one person for whom you would like to design a thing. Who is the person and what would you design?
There is a very famous Austrian artist who is no more. His name is Hundertwasser. He was a theorist, an artist and an architect. He made his own clothes; he built his own boat and travelled around the world. I would love to do a painting for him.
One word that would define your personal working style?
As a creative entrepreneur, one thing that you would like to change in the present system?
Support mechanisms. We need to have support mechanisms for institutes that can nurture skills and talent.
If you were an animated character, which one would it be?
King Julian from Madagascar. I like his sarcasm.
Any role models?
Yes, there are many. My role models are people who have gone beyond the ordinary and have really come through in life.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
I would be very uncomfortable if someone actually wrote a biography about me. I feel biographies are about ‘me’, ‘myself’; and I am never comfortable with that. It is always about ‘we’. So yes, maybe the title will be ‘Not me, but we!’
What are you afraid of regarding the future?
More than fear, it is a sense of sadness about losing the socio-cultural values in India; India going through degradation than development.
What are the challenges you face in the present context?
Running the trust, getting funding, getting the right motivated team together.
One aspect of design you give the highest priority to?
One aspect of work in the social sector you give the highest priority to?
One design related book you highly recommend to read?
Ways of Seeing by John Berger. It is not really a design book, but it is at the meeting point of art and design. It is an amazing book that every creative person should read.
One motto for all social entrepreneurs and creative entrepreneurs?
I would give the motto that I generally use; ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, which in Sanskrit means, the world is your family.
(Achyutha Sharma is also the India Ambassador for Sandbox, the global community of achievers under 30)