A teaching package for the GRLI community: videos, summary & Journal article
By Nicola Pless Professor, Professor of Management and Chair of Positive Business at the University of South Australia Business School and is Director of the Center for Business Ethics and Responsible Leadership (BERL). She is a GRLI Independent Associate and a GRLI Guardian.
A recent conversation between John North, GRLI Executive Director and Professor Nicola Pless focused on inclusion and enabling as key elements for Global Responsibility and Responsible Leadership. She offers a summary of an exemplary positive business called Gram Vikas and founding leader and chairman Joe Madiath, Founder and Chairman.
John North: In our conversation, we talked about inclusion and enabling as key points of inquiry for Global Responsibility. Tell me about your suggestion for teaching materials that help demonstrate this quality?
Nicola Pless: The leader that I have in mind is Joe Madiath, Founder and Chairman of Gram Vikas (translated village development), an NGO in Orissa, a state in Eastern India, reaching out to over 600,000 people living in over 1700 rural habitations. As a teaching package, we can offer a summary description, video, and a link to a Journal of Business Ethics article that includes suggested questions for student exploration.
Joe Madiath is an example of a dedicated responsible leader and entrepreneur. He and Gram Vikas are an excellent fit for demonstrating inclusion as a core element of Responsible Leadership because that is how they work. Gram Vikas’ mantra is 100% inclusion and empowerment of women and underprivileged and excluded castes.
Introductory Videos (2:44 & 8:04)
2. Gram Vikas Overview
[John — how about we also include a link to this overview as a separate file for sharing with students? It would also make a very good video/audio file with Nicola or you reading it for students to listen to]
Gram Vikas is a social enterprise headquartered in Orissa, one of the poorest states in India. The organization dedicates their work to support the poorest of the poor to escape the vicious cycle of poverty by helping them to help themselves build their own capabilities and construct their own water and sanitation systems. Gram Vikas is a high-impact social enterprise. They have
- Reached 600,000 people in 1,700 villages and provided access to sanitation and clean drinking water.
- In particular, Gram Vikas reached more than 210,000 women and provided them with access to safe, private bathrooms with running water.
- 10,000 hectares of wasteland were regenerated for natural resources based livelihoods
- Gram Vikas equipped 54,000 families with renewable sources for cooking.
- They run four schools for underprivileged children to provide basic education.
Joe Madiath is the founder of Gram Vikas and he has dedicated his life to build and grow Gram Vikas and serve communities in need. Their aspiration is to broaden their impact globally and are already active in Africa and other parts of the world.
In a nutshell, one of Gram Vikas’ key projects is “access to clean drinking water”. They strive to bring dignity to the poorest of the poor by helping them to build their own water and sanitation systems. Their mantra is 100% inclusion and empowerment of women and underprivileged castes.
For example, Gram Vikas only starts its work once a village has agreed to democratic processes and 100% inclusion. This is an agreement that all families and members of a village reach, consenting that all villagers regardless of gender, religion, caste, etc. are included in the project and will receive equal access to sanitation facilities and clean drinking water built on their own under the guidance and support of Gram Vikas. Thereby, bringing profound dignity and also new opportunities to their lives.
The set-up of water and sanitation systems and introduction of the democratic governance systems by Gram Vikas has three key positive consequences:
(1) Health: The work of Gram Vikas has contributed to substantially decrease water-borne diseases and child mortality and increased maternal health in the participating villages.
(2) Education and empowerment: In remote areas of India, girls and women are traditionally the water carriers of their villages. The water and sanitation system frees up time for girls to go to school and for women to get a job and/or set up their own small businesses. As mentioned, Gram Vikas also runs four schools to educate children in remote areas.
(3) Building capabilities: As part of the water and sanitation project, Gram Vikas also trains villagers and helps them to build professional capabilities to become masons and plumbers, thereby enabling some to set up and run their own businesses. Also through the principle of inclusion women and members of formerly excluded castes receive new opportunities as entrepreneurs and as local leaders and are supported and empowered by Gram Vikas in these new roles.
Through this systemic approach, Gram Vikas work helps to fight exclusion and to break the vicious cycle of poverty (another video link that documents their work.
Gram Vikas already showed that it can make a big impact in Orissa. But then there is also a huge need all around the world for access to clean drinking water. Through Gram Vikas’ approach of inclusion and implementation of democratic processes, responsible regional development and democratic practice can be fostered in different regions of the world. This is important for local, national and global peace, empowerment of girls and women, education, flourishing communities. In fact, it is an essential pathway to breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and suppression by helping the poorest of the poor to pave their own path to a better future and realize their potential to be heard.
3. Journal Article
The 2012 Journal of Business Ethics article titled, “In Pursuit of Dignity and Social Justice: Changing Lives Through 100 % Inclusion — How Gram Vikas Fosters Sustainable Rural Development” is a case based article on Gram Vikas. The article is co-authored by Thomas Maak, Nicola M. Pless & Franz Wohlgezogen.
The article includes teaching notes in the Appendix with suggested questions for discussion on leadership. The case can be used on different courses, for instance in the area of CSR, business-in-society and social entrepreneurship.
Due to the fact that the case outlines multiple challenges, it can also be used in courses on strategy, human resource management and finance. It is suitable for teaching at bachelor and master levels and also on executive training programs (e.g. for non-governmental organisations)
Professor Nicola M. Pless is Professor of Management, holds the Chair of Positive Business at the University of South Australia and is Director of the Center for Business Ethics and Responsible Leadership (BERL). She is a GRLI Independent Associate and a GRLI Guardian.