By Mariano Aragunde
IBM’s Corporate Services Corps program gives IBM’ers the unique opportunity to develop their leadership skills, by going on a community-based assignment in an emerging market to help communities around the world solve critical problems. Over the next few weeks we’ll continue to follow Mariano Aragunde, IBM HR in Latin America as he goes on assignment in India.
It is my second week of work and our project ending starts to look clearer. In my previous post I explained how I was working with the State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM) organization in order to help the poor farmers in Chhattisgarh. This week Rob, Tomoo and I made real progress: we’re close to finalizing a marketing & branding strategy to aggregate, organize, and sell products from the farmers (like rice, mahua, tendu, tamarind) to a wider market in the country. This will ensure an income to the poor families, and in line with the SRLM program, they will be able to make long term investments in livelihood activities such as child nutrition, education, water and waste sanitation.
It is not only important for the communities’ livelihood, but also for women’s empowerment. This project is aimed primarily at Self Help Groups formed only by women who are now making decisions about money, family, and community projects. They are elected amongst other women and they have the opportunity to represent thousands of women from their district to help plan their future. And, on a side note, it was a privilege for me to spend International Womens Day on March 8th working with them!
I’m very proud of the work we’re doing, but mostly of our clients: the SRLM team represented by Anil and Avinash. We’ve been learning a lot from each other, sharing our thoughts, laughing, and making great plans for the program while drinking masala chai in a bar on the side of a dirty road on our way to Raipur.
This week we’ve been very busy, but on the fun side I can tell you that after two weeks I was able to develop a deep passion for cricket, paneer, and Bollywood movies. Everyone I have met so far in India has been very warm and welcoming and here’s a funny story: There was a wedding being celebrated at the hotel where we are staying and we crashed with my colleague Brittney. They were so nice! Even if they didn’t know us, they received us like friends, explained the traditions, invited us to celebrate and took pictures. Every day we learn something new about India and their culture, which is one of the most fascinating in the world.
See you next week!
If you understand Spanish, I’ll be blogging more regularly in my personal blog and tweeting as well. I’ll be sharing my experience about this fascinating country: the beauty of the landscape, the people…everything will impact your senses.
Take some time to read the first edition of Mariano’s experience – finding our feet if you missed it.
To find out more about IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, visit IBM CSC website
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