The time has come to leave the drawing board and head into the real world. AI must make the transition from compelling concept—social capital credits, also known as SoCCS, aimed at improving lives in communities around the world—to on-the-ground implementation in developing countries on different continents. How?
For a better understanding, we take a look at two SoCCs pilot projects, one in India (Fig. 1), one in Ghana (Fig. 2), both of which have been running for a year or more, to learn how they are funded, monitored, and plan to become self-sustaining; how success is measured; and how the projects are localized.
For each pilot, in general, AI provides the starting funds (or a portion thereof) to cover the administrative costs involved in setting up the pilot. Our local partner does likewise, to the extent it can, and also contributes to the SoCCS redeeming menu. We ask each partner to outline how they plan to become sustainable after AI’s initial funding (not to exceed 3 years). SoCCs are likely to become sustainable through some combination of the following:
- SoCCS give rise to a local barter economy/ecosystem in which people begin providing services and generating value which was not available to the community before (e.g., tutoring, house repair, child care, etc.).
- Our local partner finds local corporations or donors who can replace us.
- Our local partner is an association of craftswomen, part of whose income goes to funding the SoCCS redeeming menu.
- The local partner may charge members a nominal monthly fee.
After a program is established and successful, AI will continue to collect and process data, giving partners qualitative as well as quantitative reports generated on the SOCCMARKET.ORG platform so partners can see, and show, the difference they are making. International donors require such accountability. A demonstration of SoCCs reporting and monitoring can be found at https://youtu.be/QrdyMJETpqs
“Success comes when people’s lives are improved in a transformative and sustainable way,” says AI founder Geeta Mehta. “They feel a sense of having accomplished this by themselves. While the international development community and sophisticated local partners love the concept of SoCCs, local people need to localize it. So long as the word SoCCs is in the name, local groups are free to add any prefix or suffix that makes them feel they own it.” (For example, the name of one MSSRF program is SoCCs Saubhagya, which means ‘lucky chance’ SoCCs.)
Which brings us to AI’s 15th anniversary gala on Monday, October 12, in New York City. Donors make the difference. Donors make it all possible. They buy tickets, bid on auction items, and make generous contributions. Please join them this year—and us—for an evening of inspiration and purpose. For ticket information, please see http://www.asiainitiativesgala.org.
-Anne Papantonio, AI Board Member