The aim of this series of posts is to explore the feasibility of forming an NGO which provides consulting services to small businesses and cash-strapped governments. Readers' thoughts, ideas and viewpoints are welcome as they would be very helpful in refining the idea and making a full-proof case.
This thought came to me two days ago, on a lazy saturday afternoon, with nothing better to do than sleep (it was snowing outside and watching some Korean channel on tele was the last thing I wanted to do). Random thoughts appeared in my mind around the central idea of a consulting NGO. Without rambling further, let me get down with the idea.
India abounds in small, unorganised businesses which have their presence in almost every sector affecting our daily lives. Lack of resources is a major reason for these businesses to not have access to any kind of consulting services; hence these businesses have not been able to achieve significant progress (Sorry for being vague here) inspite of being around for a very long time.
One way to help these businesses perform better is to provide them with consulting services at nominal costs. Given the premium which consultants command, one way to achieve this is by forming an NGO to help small businesses (a prototype called SOMA already functions at IIM-Ahmedabad, it needs to be done on a bigger scale). This will help intellectuals (consultants in particular) contribute to the well being of the society in the most efficient manner - doing something they have the core competence for.
As a start, I have tried to list the key points for creation of such an NGO, lets say at Mumbai
The NGO can have a core group of partners who will identify and actively seek out small businesses needing help and pitch to help them professionally. The engagement would then go to an engagement manager who will manage the project from there on with two / three volunteer-consultants as the need may be.
Every member is expected to spend atleast one weekend every month with the NGO to ensure a minimum bench strength to be staffed on assignments.
One assignment definitely cannot be completed in one weekend, unless it is done as a business case-study, which is definitely not the aim of this NGO. I guess volunteers may have to work 4 or 5 weekends at a stretch to complete a project and then have an extended break of around three months. But this kind of an arrangement may discourage volunteers as most of us will definitely be averse to working these many weekends at a stretch ------ Ideas required to get this critical aspect right.
Any graduate can apply to work with the NGO as a consultant. Engagement Managers and Partners will require relevant consulting experience (more on this in later, when I get more inputs)
Junior volunteers can be recruited from college - they may work full time in their vacations or on weekends during regular college hours.
Government Organisations like BEST, Maharashtra State Transport (also called "ST" or "A-SH-T" by the locals, this is a really big, but cash strapped organisation and is in a real mess), BMC schools, Aarey Milk Colony, Mumbai taxi drivers' association (refer earlier post), Apna Bazaar, etc - Small operational level projects for these organisations
Small businesses like manufacturing (a lot of them dot the industrial landscape around Mumbai), restaurants, small retail chains, budding entrepreneurs, other NGOs, etc
Although there are no salaries to be paid out to the volunteers, operational expenses need to be taken care of. Until such time the NGO becomes self-sustaining (i.e. all expenses are covered by the client fees), corporate sponsors need to be roped in. --------Another aspect where brainstorming required.