Story Behind Building A Globally Inspiring Institution For The Development Sector

Since its inception in 1991, Bala Vikasa, an NGO established in the city of Warangal, Telangana by Bala T. Singareddy Gingras and André Gingras, was pioneering Community-Driven Development (CDD) initiaves across sectors like women empowerment, sustainable agriculture, safe water, water conservation, health, sanitation, quality education, and building model communities with great success while garnering popularity at the grassroots.

The Need For Training

The critical success factor for almost all of Bala Vikasa’s programs was its uncompromising commitment to ensure community participation in all stages of the project cycle.

Capacity Building of community members, on the proposed goals and objectives of the development interventions and their roles and responsibilities in achieving them, is of paramount importance for community participation to be optimal, real, and sustainable.

Therefore, great emphasis was laid on building knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the grassroots communities to help them play an active role in defining and shaping their own development, in all Community-Driven Development Programs of Bala Vikasa.

Awareness and Motivation meetings, Capacity Building sessions, and Technical trainings for communities and committee members were and are fixed components of all programs under ‘Building Communities before Building Projects’ approach.

However, as Bala Vikasa was nearing the completion of a decade in development, it was realized that a lot more needs to be done in relation to Capacity Building of stakeholders, both communities as well as development professionals, including the staff of Bala Vikasa.

Bala Vikasa’s leadership strongly felt the need for a much more intensive and systemic capacity building of development agents beyond the conditions and constraints of specific project commitments.

The theory and practice of development was undergoing a paradigm shift from welfare models to empowerment models and required development agents to approach it with greater finesse and professionalism.

A specialized training center focussed on continuous capacity building of development agents was understood to be of critical importance to ensure that they are equipped with necessary knowledge and skills and can remain as change agents to sustain the results.

The Need For Sharing

Founder André Gingras, guided by his experience with international development and cooperation as a high-level functionary of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), brought rich intellectual capital to Bala Vikasa and introduced time-tested and proven approaches, tools and methodologies in Community-Driven Development into Bala Vikasa’s programming.

Owing to these approaches, BalaVikasa was emerging as one of the most professional and high-impact community development organizations in the country at the time, able to achieve its intended objectives and proposed results, meet stakeholders expectations and gain the confidence and trust of the beneficiary communities.

The donors who were also funding other non-profits in the country were seeing a marked difference in the way Bala Vikasa was handling Community Development and the way their other partners across the country were operating.

They also floated the idea of sharing the knowledge, experience and expertise of Bala Vikasa to other development organizations and practitioners so that the development sector, by and large, can benefit from such an effort – ultimately leading to optimal results and consequently to greater social impact and sustainable development.

This, too, strengthened the resolve of the founders to set up an institution that will create and disseminate sector knowledge.