allies to the government. It starts with the heart and then having the foresight to start with something that would result in systems change.
Acumen Fund (Sadeesh Raghavan)
My story is also about women! Maternal care in India. Hindustan Healthcare. What can we do collectively to address this problem in this space? The answer was to invest in the problem and help them grow. But we thought to do something different. What we decided was to look at maternal care. In India, mothers
infant mortality rates are abysmal. We wanted to focus on the informal workforce, which is actually 80% of the workforce, and the urban centers. In those areas, there was typically home-births, but we were seeing an
increase in institutional birth…but nursing homes or government buildings were charging
exorbitant prices and low quality, low or no transparency. So we wanted to establish hospitals to serve these women. Challenge was to do it at scale and at 50-80 percent lower.
Today we have 20 hospitals and are pricing well. It’s working well and has shown that public
private partnerships can work. They intend to build up to 200 hospitals like this.
How did you know an organization had the capacity to grow? You don’t know what scales
until you make those investments? What were the indicators along the way? What to invest and how? [Kavita] Truth is I had no idea. But I was inspired by Sakina. So many people said Afghanistan is hopeless.
At the end of the day, good philanthropy is about people.
These are people who refuse to say no for an answer. She was running these schools at risk of life, without money. So she clearly is passionate enough. The other thing, we made a $5,000
grant, but how she used it! (No banking system, pre 9/11, pre American invasion…nothing
going on). She had a system going on to transfer money, buy school materials, across the border. We watched how they used resources. We connected them to others. Since they used it well, we introduced to JP Morgan, Global Fund for Women. Sakina told her story in a
simple way, and people had a sense, if you give you her money great but if you didn’t, she
would find a way anyway. Also, the
Afghan Institute for Learning’s thinking. They never
wanted to be a substitute for the state, just to meet the need at time.
But when the government was ready, they pivoted and knew that to get to scale, they needed to engage the government. Adaptability and flexibility.
You mentioned infrastructure and capacity building. What are the key pieces? You want to
be able to tell an empathetic story…capacity building is not “so sexy.” How did you come to
the place of seeing the ecosystem? [Annie] I think I wil
l refer to Doug’
s opening about urgency. I saw it as how to do philanthropy more effectively and how to use my resources. In
HK there was very little. Some pockets of activity, some individuals with passion. It’s lonely
You do need a profession to make things happen, to help create change, to make
services available at scale, so it’s not that lone entrepreneur.
We did a lot of exploration elsewhere and saw the sense of possibility. Some other countries are ahead. Take a longer