Pune City Connect: Transforming Pune the Collective Way

                 “Sampoorna Pune. Every Life Enriched.”

Pune City Connect, a non-profit whose vision is to enrich the life of every citizen of Pune, is enabling a social transformation in Pune through a multifaceted collaborative model under the able leadership of Ms. Ruchi Mathur. An alum of IIM Ahmedabad, Ruchi wears many hats professionally with work experience in marketing, nonprofits and corporate social responsibility, is embarking on a mission of transforming the city through Collective Action. The collective action here is inspired by the Stanford Social Innovation article Embracing Emergence: How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity by John Kania & Mark Kramer.

Pune City Connect acts as a centrifugal force bringing together Government (Pune Municipal Corporation: PMC), Corporates through Corporate Social Responsibility: CSR, Non-profits, Foundations and Civic Societies on a common platform of social and economic well-being. The Public-Private model helps in attracting resources for an inclusive and equitable Pune through selected development programs.

Pune City Connect is catalyzing a transformative social change through collective action. Mindset behavioural change and scale are the way forward for maintaining a sustainable change.” Ruchi.

Listen to Ruchi’s interview with Nishant here.

The development programs plan to empower the less privileged members of the society by bringing the best pedagogy in education for municipal schools, focusing on digital literacy & inclusion and imbibing skills for a sustainable livelihood. Under its partnership with PMC, Pune City Connect works as the interface with the corporates for generating capital and other resources for selected development programs mentioned herein.

The company facilitates resources for programs bringing in best business practices to aid measurable impact, scalability, and enhanced accountability. PMC gives support through fixed and capital expenditures while CSR funds the variable operational expenses. About 30 Corporates, have contributed since Pune City Connect started. Approximately 35 implementation partners are on board, including non-profits for implementing projects in the development sector. All the development projects are focused on driving India towards fulfilling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.

“Impact lives of 20% of the slum population for catalysing Collective Good for everyone through a spiraling effect.”

To drive its Mission and Vision, an ensemble group of prominent stalwarts and leaders from the corporate sector are working on the board of directors. The education project for municipal schools modelled on the holistic philosophy of imparting activity learning to both primary and secondary students through “Models of Excellence Schools” project and as a support for honing skills of teachers/ mentors/ coaches through the Sahyogi Dal project. Nineteen municipal school teachers were selected as Sahyogis to train and mentor other teachers.

“Coached 1000 teachers in instructional & pedagogical structure across 172 Marathi medium Schools for the last four years.” Sahyogi Dal Project.

Models of Excellence is an integrated approach in developing both qualitative and quantitative skills of all the stakeholders in education. The method uses various pedagogy structure, which includes direct experiential learning through activities, especially those in science and arts, to develop well-rounded personalities.

                                               “40,000 students impacted in Schools.”

The projects plan to foster a sense of belonging, self-learning & awareness to boost self-esteem among students who hail from low-income background apart from mandatory skill sets for better personal growth and development. The intervention started this year in five Marathi medium schools would increase to other municipal skills to measure its impact over two years. The long-term objective is to develop balanced, responsible citizens backed by intelligence and intellectual ability for making a sustained positive change in society.

Digital Empowerment Pune is an ambitious project to sustain the exemplary vision of the Honorable Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi’s National Digital Empowerment Mission (NDLM). The mission plans to empower at least one person per household in internet literacy. PMC and Pune City Connect plan to train 200,000 low-income families by 2022 impacting at least one person per household. The impact translates into 20% of the low-income households having at least one computer literate member bringing in economics jargon into a Network Effect which would cascade across all the less privileged families in Pune.

The project promotes participatory culture among the masses, bringing a sense of inclusion and pride. The project focuses more on the application of technology rather than just theoretical knowledge. Pune City Connect designed the curriculum which encompasses an in-depth understanding of computers with a focus on an overview of hardware and software and its various applications. Experiential learning aided through 15 Digital Empowerment Centres and 6 Digital Empowerment Buses equipped with computers, Wi-Fi, a projector and screen along with a printer scanner.

            “More than 40,000 citizens in low income households trained in Digital Empowerment.”

Each center has a Mobilizer and a Trainer who trains 2-3 batches per day depending on availability. Further, Pune City Connect coordinates with 800 placement agencies for helping participants, especially those through sustainable livelihood project in job recruitment. All developmental projects work on rising scalability through incremental participation by increasing awareness of the mission, decreasing variable costs, and opening new avenues for sustained empowerment, community building, and sharing. (SDG 1,2, 4,10). A bell weather step if India wants to succeed in its Smart City and E-governance initiative in the fourth technology fueled revolution of emerging disruptive technologies. (SDG 11).

Finally, the other major development project is to provide skills and personal development for urban disadvantaged youth. Launched under the appropriate moniker Lighthouse, the plan envisions to promote gender equality, economic growth, social harmony, and leadership skills through skill building, coaching, and mentoring. Below Ruchi speaking on the television.

                                           “6 new lighthouses launched on 8th July 2019.”

Majority of the enrolled participants are between the ages 18-30, with 60% of them women. (SDG 5, 8,9,10,11,17). Further, the project trains and mentors’ participants in technology-related coding and non-coding skills like MS Office, C, Java, etc. The project has made huge inroads in its mission, and in this video, Ms. Ruchi talks about their approach on the ground.

           “Value-based personality development for 6000 youth across five lighthouses; 1750 youth placed.

                                                      Social and economic development in 20 slum communities.”

Pune City Connect is playing a significant role in transforming the city through the novel approach of driving innovation at the bottom of the pyramid through collective action by incorporating multiple stakeholders. Today, there is more accountability through the participation of various actors, measurable impactful interventions at less privileged members of the social work as enablers for attracting more capital through philanthropy.

“Lighthouse are centers of love and compassion to build a change from within for a ripple effect in society. A community building effort to promote economic landscape through increased jobs in the organized sector, expand gender equality, enable leadership and peer, support groups, enhance a sense of citizenship, and spread social harmony.Ruchi, CEO, Pune City Connect. 

Listen to the Podcast here.

A step forward, indeed, still a lot needs to be done. A lot will depend on Puneites playing their small part in transforming the city for good, an uphill but achievable task. Last but not the least a great appreciation to numerous volunteers who devoted valuable time for spreading well-being in the most real altruist sense. Learning is more suitable if it’s fun. Leave you with the music of wannabe rappers.

I suggest the following further readings here.

Sustainable Development Goals: Pioneering Solutions for India

Philanthropy, Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofits


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