"Completing eight years in existence is remarkable for any organization, and we at Deshpande Foundation (DF) in Hubli, India are now at this juncture. It is a perfect moment to look back and assess our efforts towards realizing our stated mission - strengthening local ecosystems, building leaders, and catalyzing innovative thinking for creating sustainable, scalable enterprises that have significant social and economic impact."

At a time when top-down approaches of solving ground level problems with superficial solutions created in boardrooms were a norm, it was an uphill task to make people understand the importance of working with a bottom-up approach, the core of all our initiatives. We found enthusiastic individuals and social entrepreneurs eager to make a difference, but they were not exposed to the best practices necessary to succeed at the implementation stage. There was also a gap between their skillset and what was needed to achieve excellence. And being in a semi-urban tier-II city like Hubli, we had a unique challenge of adjusting our pace and working style with that of the local community to build an ecosystem like the Hubli Sandbox, leveraging our understanding of the global best practices, insights about the macro-level dynamics and how they percolate to the ground level.

We joined hands with more than a hundred partners having strong work ethics and a sense of ownership of a number of programs we started in the Sandbox ecosystem. We have evolved a methodology to effectively work with the local community and resources, enabling as many local catalysts of change as possible to achieve maximum impact. We have allowed many leaders and entrepreneurs to emerge from the bottom of the pyramid. Our educational, leadership and entrepreneurial initiatives have made significant impacts. The Hubli Sandbox has become a hub of innovation and social entrepreneurship, and it is inspiring others to replicate this in other parts of the country.

DF India is backed by its visionary founders, internationally renowned advisors, amazing partners, and of course, the community, which accepted and appreciated us wholeheartedly. I sincerely thank them all. As the leader of a team of committed individuals who are passionate about enabling others to help themselves, these years have been an eventful journey of great experiences and learning for me. I am grateful to my team for responding positively to my efforts to channelize our energy towards achieving the common objective, and to my philosophy of inclusion. The doors of DF India are open to all those who believe in our mission and vision. Come and join hands with us, let us make a real difference!

Naveen Jha
CEO, Deshpande Foundation, India