Suhas Urs

Suhas is part of our Consulting Services team in Mumbai, designing and implementing programmes for CSR clients.

Before joining Sattva he was a Gandhi Fellow, where he worked with 5 Government Schools across Surat, Gujarat in the School Transformation Program and carried out focused skill based interventions with the teachers to help improve the student learning levels. At Sattva he has worked with a key CSR client of Sattva in designing and implementing a flagship programme. He has also worked with non-profits in designing the organisational strategy for fundraising.

Suhas has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering from Sai Vidya Institute of Technology, Bangalore.

Kanika Kandoi

Kanika is part of the Consulting Services team in Mumbai, supporting the team in the different project phases – problem definition, effort estimation, diagnosis, solution generation, design and deployment.

Prior to Sattva, she worked at a Foundation on livelihood projects and impact evaluation studies. She has also worked in the education sector at a non- profit think-tank, leading the conceptualisation and designing of a survey for budget private schools in New Delhi. At Sattva she has worked on designing and implementing a Collective Impact Initiative on Future Focused Skill Development for a large family trust. She has also diagnosed a pan-India NGO to re-design the structure, people, process and systems to enable organisational scale and programmatic effectiveness.

Kanika holds a Bachelors Degree (Economics) from Delhi University and Masters degree (Economics) from University College London.

Pawan Kumar

Pawan leads key Consulting Services engagements in the Mumbai region, working with CSR, CSO, Foundations and Social Enterprises across Strategy, Capacity Building, Assessment and Programme Management projects.

He has over 8 years of experience in private and development sectors. Before Sattva he worked in Analytics. His experience in the development sector focuses on harnessing and developing new skills to work on solving complex social issues. He is committed to working with CSOs to address social problems on the ground at scale.

Pawan is an MBA from VTU.

Mohana Rajan

Mohana Rajan is part of the Consulting Services team in Mumbai.

Prior to Sattva she has worked in the corporate as well as development sectors and as a Legislative Assistant to Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia. She has worked with Foundations, Philanthropists, Corporate CSR and Non-profits in the areas of skill development, healthcare and children with special needs. She is passionate about gender equality and is keen to look into innovative models that can emulate corporate success in the development sector.

Mohana is a mechanical engineer from NITK Surathkal and a graduate of IIM Bangalore.

Making a case for Sector Disruptors

At Sattva, we have always believed that in order to end poverty, it is important to strengthen the ability of social organisations to create impact. And as part of our work today, we engage deeply with a wide range of organisations – from some of the largest non-profits in the country to portfolios of young and nascent organisations. To ensure that we double up on this commitment in the future, we have set up a separate team within Sattva this year that will exclusively work large scale non-profits to enable them to create transformational impact over a million people.


I say this to highlight my bias for scale and our commitment towards enabling non-profits towards achieving scale. All along I recognised that scale was an inadequate measure of success since it might not capture the overall impact an organisation has created. I always add depth of impact, institutional sustainability and impact on the ecosystem as being equally important as well. However, the north star to frame the conversation has always been scale. Over the past one year, having worked with some of the largest non-profits in the country and inspiring leaders, I seek to frame the north star differently. The north star metric is the number of sector disruptors that we have been able to enable.

I want to use this post to structure my thoughts on –

-Why sector disruptors are critical over scaled organisations, for the social impact ecosystem

-Why there is a strong case for working with large non-profits of today to transform them into sector disruptors and not only invest in the new pipeline.

Why Sector disruptors over Scale

I have been fortunate to work with large organisations of various “archetypes” (topic for another post) over the last few years. While it has been immensely inspiring and a great learning, following are painful trends that are all too common today –

-Most large non-profits have scaled in the country today by codifying their interventions into a “Least Common Denominator” (LCD) model which can be scaled everywhere but loses all its original nuance to create meaningful impact on the ground. Hence, scale is actually achieved at the cost of impact.

-Much like IBM, no one has ever been fired in a CSR team for having funded a large non-profit. Hence the LCD model gets easily replicated across the country creating a closed loop of promoting scalable, low impact models on the ground. This usually means that the entire organisation is structured for effective operations at scale than innovation.

-Large organisations suffer from lack of “oxygen” (quality leadership talent, funding for organisational growth, proven systems). While that is true, one realises that the larger problem are not the externalities but the diffusion of vision internally. Most large organisations are not inspiring places for people to create change and hence are unable to attract talent or bend the market. This usually results in the CEO of the organisation spending 80% of their time on internal issues (at the cost of their health and wellbeing, most times) and 20% on the next frontier of impact and innovation for the organisation.

-As this happens, most avant-garde funders looking for innovation lose faith in large organisations and look for young and upcoming organisations to break this mould. Once funded, the young game changers continue to look for scale (since that is the norm) and end up in the same place as the guard of the past. In other words, we are pouring more water in the same leaking bucket.

-Another side effect of the scale focus is that nascent sectors like Property Rights where there is lack of breakthroughs, not many organisations have achieved meaningful scale. Therefore, most organisations working in these sectors don’t find funding or the attention of the funders.

Which is not to say, scale and impact are mutually exclusive. I am working with a few of them on a daily basis and two defining traits of such leaders who are able to marry impact and scale stand out – The unrelenting commitment to disrupt the sector and the market acumen to making it happen. In other words, it is not their appetite for scale – but their commitment to disruption – that helps create impact.

Large organisations and leaders creating deep impact are defined by two leading traits – The unrelenting commitment to disrupt the sector and the market acumen to making it happen.

Hence, setting scale as the north star metric of success for non-profit organisations in the long term is not only inadequate, it is dangerous because it results in squandering social investments in large scale programs that are designed to create incremental impact, at best. While scale is an absolutely necessary pre-condition, we need to frame success as sector disruption than scale.

So, what are sector disruptors

Sector disruptors change the course of how problems are solved within a sector by fundamentally changing the goal post or the lens with which problems are being looked at. That shift reframes the problem and hence the entire solution space. For instance (and this is not an exhaustive list):

-ASER, Pratham’s Initiative, reframed the focus of Education towards learning outcomes in a manner that was more real than any other initiative.

-Enable India moved the conversation of livelihoods for People with Disability, from being charity to actual business value by mapping the investment in PWD to the GDP of the country.

-SEWA’s livelihood triad (MFS, IDS, LPS) defined the livelihood approach of countless organisations since then.

-Akshayapatra’s approach to Mid-day meals through large scale infrastructure solutions with strong focus on technology and logistics redefined how such a problem can be addressed at scale while ensuring quality.

-DRF set up LABS as a business school model for school dropouts. That template has since created a model for skill development for the entire ecosystem.

-Childline setup 1098 as a national level helpline making phone-based access available to every child in distress across the country.

-CRY pioneered domestic giving among NGOs both through sales of greeting cards and through its retail giving at a scale not seen before in India by an Indian NGO (so much so that many thought they were an international NGO)

There are others including Aravind Eye Care for low cost healthcare solutions, Kaivalya Education Foundation on Middle Management leadership, Goonj on Cloth. These organisations, while not perfect, have had a huge impact on the solution space in their respective sectors.

Another interesting observation is that sector disruption, unlike scale, is not a permanent status. Most organisations in the list above were disruptors in a certain frame in time but today are questioning their relevance within the current social landscape. It truly takes a great organisation to not only stay relevant but continue to disrupt the ecosystem. Also, sector disruption, as a metric, is constantly defined in conjunction with the external environment than in isolation as organisation metric (E.g. Budget of the NGO). Hence a sector disruptor in Property Rights would look very different given the nascency of the space to a sector disruptor in the Education today.

Sector disruption, as a metric, is constantly defined in conjunction with the external environment than in isolation in relation to the organisation. There are no eternal disruptors. Organisations have to earn that right every time with changing times

Making a case for working with existing organisations

There is, rightfully, a strong focus on building the next cadre of entrepreneurs in the social impact ecosystem who have the mindset and DNA for creating large scale, meaningful impact. And my conversations with organisations such as N Core convince me of their commitment to doing it. While we invest in it, there’s an equally strong case to be made to work with existing large non-profits that have the ability and the agency to disrupt the sector more predictably than a bunch of young entrepreneurs. And here’s why –

-Sector disruption requires an organisation to have a certain critical mass for the disruption to be felt by the ecosystem (and not be a tree falling in the forest). Large organisations bring the gravitas and scale to be able to demonstrate disruption with credibility.

-Disruption requires scale. We have a graveyard of disruptive pilots and few at scale because what worked in pilots often are not designed for scale. Large organisations enable the scale at which ideas can be tested and demonstrated.

-While Institutional learning is a double edged sword (and often laces all ideas with cynicism), they are immensely helpful in knowing what are essential success factors and what are sure shot blind alleys. An able leader and the right team will gain immensely from listening to this learning with discretion.

-Finally, disruption requires funding and large non-profits bring the network and the credibility to raise the initial funding. At a time when the idea is audacious, the organisation’s track record strengthens the ability of the funder to put some money.

Let me be clear – Not every large organisation can be a sector disruptor (well, most large organisations cannot). But scale, experience and size are strong enablers for sector disruptors to redefine the landscape – And hence there is a strong case for working with these organisations, with the right leader at the helm, to create sector disruption.

Sattva’s own experience of working with a large organisation in the skill development space demonstrated how, when the right leader and organisation are provided the right strategy, large organisations can demonstrate disruption at a scale where the ecosystem has to notice and acknowledge.

In my follow up post to this, I want to detail the traits that enable large organisations to be sector disruptors and share Sattva’s experiences in being part of this journey. As I mentioned earlier, this is just a conversation starter.

Note: All original insights are thanks to meaningful conversations with Aditya Natraj, Dipesh Sutariya, Shanti Raghavan, Puja Marwaha, Hari T.N, Gayathri Vasudevan, Warren Ang, Rajat Gupta and leadership team at Child Rights and You, Kaivalya Education Foundation, CHILDLINE India Foundation and N/Core. All flaws in translating it to a post are entirely mine.

(Originally published on LinkedIn)


Minu Sagar

Minu leads Consulting Services (Implementation) initiatives in Bangalore, building capability of NGOs and similar organisations to enable them to multiply their impact on ground in a large scale, sustainable manner.

She started her career as a software development consultant with IBM and SAP. She then went on to do a Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Management with Institute of Rural Management (IRMA). She then joined Coconut Development Board (CDB) as a consultant, working on capability building, training, establishing systems and processes, and monitoring and evaluation.

At Sattva she has worked with CSRs to design, implement and monitor flagship programmes.  She has worked with NGOs to define their overall strategy, build organisational and programmatic capabilities as well as support with fundraising strategy.

Minu is an engineering graduate from College of Engineering Trivandrum and has a Post Graduate degree in rural management from Institute of Rural Management (IRMA), Anand.

Abhishek Modi

Abhishek works with the Products team and Corporate Planning team at Sattva.

Before Sattva he worked as a freelancer for web content, search engine optimisation and social media marketing, gaining valuable business experience. He then joined Piramal Foundation’s Gandhi Fellowship Program where he worked on government school principals on their leadership capabilities. He also worked closely with teachers of 21st century teaching pedagogy practices and taught classes in government schools. He was actively involved in evolving examination practices in 200 primary government schools, working actively with the block panchayats and headmaster councils. At Sattva he has worked in the Consulting Services team on designing and managing CSR programmes.

Abhishek has a Bachelors’ in Commerce (Hons) – Accounts and Finance.

Sonam Angmo

Sonam is currently part of the Consulting Services team at Sattva.

Her experience in the development sector has spanned a wide range of themes such as Maternal Healthcare, Adolescent girls’ Hygiene & Sanitation, Malnutrition in Children, Farm based livelihood project for SHG women, assessments, social audits and sustainable livelihoods. She is passionate about optimal use of natural resources, and about waste management and water saving methods.

Sonam is a graduate from Delhi University and has a Post Graduation in Rural Management from Institute of Rural Management (IRMA), Anand.

Region-wise CSR Analysis – Aug 2018

CSR funds are an important source of capital for social impact projects and implementing organisations. How is the regional distribution of the origin, spend and circulation of CSR funds in India?

This paper analyses region-wise trends, mostly in visual format. Download to receive a copy of the report in your mailbox.

Where is India Inc.’s CSR money coming from?

Continuing our analysis on region-wise CSR fund generation, investment and circulation in India (Part 1,  Part 2 and Part 3 here) –

The visualisation below provides insight on the regional distribution of companies generating CSR funds in excess of a Crore annually :

We have plotted average annual CSR spend for all companies spending more than a crore annually on CSR in India. Each dot on the graph represents a company. Companies are sorted region-wise and appear in the order of their year on incorporation (on X axis).

We find that out of 24,000 companies in our data-set, only 1,258 (About 5%) companies are above 1-crore annual CSR spend threshold. Together, these 5% companies generate a total of INR 24,697 crore (88.4%) out of the entire INR 27,950 crore CSR corpus in India.

At a regional level, the highest concentration of these companies is in the West, North and South region (1158 out of 1258 or 92.1%).

In these three regions, average annual CSR fund per company is the highest for North region (INR 7.6 crore) followed the West region (INR 6.6 crore).

In contrast, companies in North East and Central region generate a much higher CSR fund on a per-company annual average basis. While the All India average for this parameter is INR 6.5 crore per company per year, the same for North East and Central region is INR 18.8 crore and INR 17.2 crore respectively.

Fewer and bigger companies Vs high concentration of smaller companies – what’s working well for CSR in each region? Stay tuned as we bring more insights on this.

Meanwhile, do share/comment/like and help more of your network think through this!