The organization we have chosen to partner with in India is called CORD, Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development. The mission of CORD is "To facilitate integrated and sustainable development in rural India through self empowerment processes." The way in which CORD chooses to work is frequently through the use of self help groups (SHG) and microfinance. The Kelley team will be going to the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh to work with the women and villagers of Sidhbari on four very unique projects.
The four projects we will be working on include:
- Microfinance Process - The women of CORD currently participate in a form of group lending. Each woman puts a small sum of money, 20 Rupees, into the SHG each month and loans are made to group members on an as needed basis. A team of Kelley students are first going to be working alongside CORD and the SHGs to really understand the current microbanking process at CORD. Next, the team will work to learn about other methods of microfinance. Finally, the team will make recommendations on how CORD can improve their current processes to make them even more efficient and succesful in the future.
- Retail Shop Merchandising - The women of the CORD village currently operate a small retail shop in the village of Sidhbari. While the location is wonderfully situated right next to an ashram, the store itself is not organized in a way that is attractive to customers nor is the store being effectively branded. A team of Kelley students will be working alongside the villagers to determine how the store should be branded, what merchandise should be stocked, and how the merchandise should be displayed.
- Artistic Merchandising (Kangra Paintings) - The villagers of Sidhbari are currently producing Kangra paintings. These are very detailed paintings, and many of them are being produced by hearing impaired artists in the village. The problem they are having right now is undersupply. They have more demand than they can supply. A team of Kelley students are going to be looking at the current process and demand profile. They will work to understand the quality of the work and pricing structure in order to determine if they are currently selling their products at the optimal prices. The team will also explore the possibility of product expansion, fine papers for example, and possible export to the US and larger cities in India.
- Vermi-Composting - Vermi compost is currently being farmed, packaged, and sold by individual farmers around the countryside. The supply of compost is currently coming from a place that is extremely difficult to get to... at the top of a mountain. A team of Kelley students will be looking into the current location of production, analyzing the supply chain and packaging, and making recommendations for improvements to the process. They will also be looking into other potential areas to produce that will simplify the supply chain and make the product easier to get to market.