The participants are selected because they come with creative and often unique ideas to create a significant change in their community, a change that might have a role model effect on other regions, societies and countries as a whole.
At kanthari our focus is not on scale but on quality, not on 1000 conventional social project ideas, but on the few that create relevant mindset changes. Changing people’s mindsets needs fire, spice and the guts to challenge the status quo. But this requires divergent, creative, out-of-the-box-thinking.
The fact that the participants are ready to come to Kerala and join a very unconventional, hands-on, creativity driven program which is more a spring board rather than a training course, shows that they are open to new approaches. However, most of them come from regular schools, colleges and universities and are used to think in templates, obvious structures, methods, terms, log frames and boxes.
In order to get them out of this box like thinking, in order to empower them to make their dream more creative, interesting and therefore more significant, we want to guide them through a journey which will provoke their habits, thoughts and actions. By providing a new, unconventional environment, catalysts will lead the participants to new ways of solving problems.
What is a catalyst?
A catalyst is not a teacher in a conventional way. He/she is an expert in one or the other field, willing to exchange knowledge with the participants, who are in one or the other way experts themselves.
The difference between a catalyst and a participant is only marginal. While the participants are taking part in the kanthari program to be prepared to create ethical social change, a catalyst gives the necessary energy and substance to go forward. Thus the catalyst can also be seen as a tour guide through the kanthari curriculum, which is named “a journey in five acts”.
A journey in five acts
The kanthari curriculum, a journey in five acts, will take the participants through a series of activities that lead them to being able to start their own social ventures/initiatives. In this way the course can be seen as a vocational training. The first four acts provide many opportunities to experience theoretically and practically what it means to set up, run and/or advise an already existing social initiative. After the fourth act the participants won’t be beginners anymore and they will be ready to jump into the fifth act in order to start or continue their personal projects/initiatives in the region of their choice.
All about Shu’s
“SHU” stands for Scoville Heat Unit, a unit that measures spice. But at kanthari the SHU is used to evaluate participants’ ability to:
– work according to deadlines
– deliver high quality written and verbal assignments,
– starting projects proactively
For each satisfactory assignment, participants earn a SHU with a certain SHU-value from one to five (SHU Value Point: SVP).
At the end of the each act, the participant needs at least 85% of all SHU-Value-Points in order to pass to the next act.
Act One: The virtual adventure
The first act starts in a virtual world, which resembles a developing country similar to those of most participant’s origins. It is a simplified world, but one which has all the challenges that may be faced by an NGO, a social enterprise or any other non-for-profit initiative.
During two and a half months the participants will have the chance to test-run the start of their social initiatives and they are guided through the following steps
- Getting familiar with the country, its rules and regulations, including the procedure of registering the initiatives.
- Building a team with a wider goal, while each team member has their own project/initiative, roles and responsibilities.
- Learn and practice how to conduct research, define problems and identify needs of potential beneficiaries.
- Evaluate social issues that are related to the problem, analyse the bigger context of the own venture idea.
- Reflect on one’s own as well as societal values, understand ethical social change and what drives it
- Question their own venture idea, take it apart, try to improve it and come out with the most unique initiative possible
- Working with media and experiencing the ups and downs of publicity.
- Practice financial planning, bookkeeping and reporting
- Raising funds through grant proposals, advertisements and events.
The first act ends with a thorough feedback week regarding the self development, the team work during the act and the status of the social venture idea.
Act Two:The Wild World
(Grass root research in India)
During the first three weeks of Act 2, participants will carry out a grass root level research in India. They will work in four groups based on the topics related to their social ventures.
2) Health and (dis)ability
3) Agriculture and environment
The main emphasis is on
– reality check,
– grass root level research and
– consolidating the findings and laying a solid foundation for the social ventures to be launched in the future.
During the last three weeks participants will focus on creating a venture profile which consists of
– a solid problem definition with an analysis of their future target group
– a description of their solution including objectives and strategies, budgets and action plans as well as
– a personal profile that explains the personal motivation the life story with his/her pinching point and the dream that will be realized.
Act Three: Preparing for the Leap
By the time that act three begins, participants have gained considerable experiences by starting their social initiatives in a virtual world in act one and having implemented similar goals and gained team working experience in external organisations in act two.
Act three combines everything that has been learned and experienced in act one and two and then directs it towards the setting up of projects within the Kerala community.
Participants will realize a project of choice in the following areas:
Awareness / campaigning
Curriculum development and training
Building and running a sustainable social enterprise
At the end of act three the projects should be implemented.
The second focus of act three is on overcoming barriers of change: Once participants return home, they will face various challenges when dealing with different stakeholders: ignorance, dissenting opinions, strong prejudices or resistance. In order to establish their venture successfully they will have to overcome these barriers, change mindsets and establish alliances.
During act three skills of creating awareness, changing opinions and behavior will be addressed and trained.
In short, act three can be seen as a springboard to jump into realizing their personal social dreams back home. Throughout the act the participants are in the driver seats, the catalysts and experts sit in the backseat and are ready to support when asked. The individual behavior during this act will be observed and evaluated together with the overall performance of the team regarding the project goal.
The results of the projects will be celebrated in a kanthari Bytes event on the last day of act three.
Act Four: Stepping onto the Springboard
In the fourth act we will mainly focus on packing their “backpack” in order to empower the participants to jump back into their own ventures and start immediately.
The major topics are:
- Branding, (logo, name, values, website)
- Project planning (action plans, budgets, fundraising, registration plans, act 5 preparation and introduction to alumni)
- Communication (pitches, speeches, ability to answer questions)
The first half concentrates on the detailing of their own social venture whereas the second half is all about the dream speech and becoming comfortable during a tough Q&A.
A successful completion of the first four acts requires:
– overall active and constructive participation in the journey
– a clear profile of the participants’ social initiative with a reasonable budget which needs to be provided one month before the final day, and
– a 10 minutes fiery public presentation performed during the last week, including a 10 minutes Q&A session in front of a panel of international experts.
Act Five: Run, Jump and Swim!
This is the important starting phase for the future kantharis.
The training course in Kerala is over, however, during 5 more months, the participants will receive regular mentoring from kanthari catalysts. During this start-up phase the goal is to focus on registration, fundraising, building a team, creating awareness that the organisation exists and the start of first venture activities.
After the 5th act has been successfully completed and the social venture is up and running, the work of the participant will be evaluated and if all criteria are met, he or she will successfully graduate from the 7-month journey and receive an individual quality seal that states that the project is “Empowered by kanthari”.