Jan-Mar 2012

Diffusion 2011: Business Skills for Social Impact

The Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (WCED) at the Indian School of Business (ISB), in association with the Net Impact Club (ISB Chapter) organised a two-day capacity building workshop “Diffusion 2011,” in Patna (October 3-4, 2011) and Hyderabad (December 10-11, 2011) for training nonprofit organisations in basic business and management skills. 

The nonprofit sector plays a vital role in supporting various socioeconomic, cultural and political needs, through a practical approach. In the context of India, where development outcomes have not been able to completely address the economic and social disparities that exist in the society, nonprofits must take up the challenge to make the country’s growth inclusive and sustainable. Even though nonprofits are motivated to work for their respective social causes, they are resource-constrained and are not adequately equipped with trained staff who can effectively replicate the successes of modern business approaches in the organisations. Because of the lack of business expertise, the already-limited resources are underutilised, leading to further underperformance. It is thus important that nonprofits are imparted with business and management practices so that they are able to maximise their resources in order to achieve efficient outcomes.

The “Diffusion” workshop was initiated by the ISB with the belief that training in business skills and networking for nonprofits will be effective in strengthening their potential. This will, in turn, contribute towards bringing about higher level of human welfare that will help substantiate the nation’s progress.

At the Hyderabad workshop, 30 participants, from senior and middle-management levels from 25 organisations, attended the workshop where they were exposed to some of the best management practices that they can leverage upon to build scale and efficiency in their organisations. The workshop was a blend of case studies, interactive lectures, and discussions encompassing topics such as Organisation Building, Governance & Metrics, Fundraising & Revenue Generation, Innovation & New Business Models, Negotiation, Marketing & Branding, Disaster Management and Leveraging Technology. The course content for “Diffusion 2011” was developed by ISB students of the Net Impact Club, Class of 2012.


While “Diffusion” workshops have been a regular event at the ISB, this was first time that the workshop was also held outside Hyderabad – in Patna, the state capital of Bihar. Bihar, owing to its sheer geographical size and highest share of Indian citizens below 25 years of age, will play a crucial role in the country’s overall development. This northern state has recently emerged as one of the centres of growth in India and is witnessing major activity and support from the non-government agencies. However, given the magnitude of the current and anticipated challenges, there is a need for nonprofits to re-examine their working context, and adopt innovative models and entrepreneurial approaches to the Patna landscape.

The importance of supporting NGOs in the Indian landscape was best explained by Krishna Tanuku, Executive Director, WCED, who stressed that “social entrepreneurial approaches, with appropriate scale, scope and focus can complement traditional NGO approaches in bringing about sustainable development.”

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