mid-day turns 41: Data before decision
An app and a survey application launched by two Mumbaikars are enabling NGOs to empower themselves with technology in outreach initiatives
Manu Janardhanan and Santosh Abraham
Pair launched essential supplies distribution app to help NGOs track impact of influence and beneficiaries
Back in 2017, Manu Janardhanan, 37, and Santosh Abraham, 39, met at a co-working space in Navi Mumbai, and soon, it became a habit to bounce ideas off each other, with the former playing devil's advocate. One such idea was Dataogram, a comprehensive data solutions platform for the social sector, which they eventually launched in January 2020. Having their professional experiences in sync — Janardhanan has worked as a software consultant and Abraham started off as a corporate banker before moving to the development sector — they set out to bring cutting-edge technology to the social sector. "I recognised the need for an affordable digital solution that enables NGOs to collect, manage and evaluate field information in real time," says Abraham. And while the pandemic thrust many into unemployment and left civil society to carry the baton of relief work, Dataogram launched two pro-bono initiatives during the lockdown.
The first was a Ration and Essentials distribution tracking app, which helps NGOs track the number of kits, records, photos, areas or type of beneficiaries covered and then, centralise this data to streamline and monitor on-ground relief efforts and make informed decisions. This was an outcome of Abraham's conversation with George Aikkara, COO of United Way, Mumbai. "We launched it in April 2020 and it has been open to other NGOs since. Currently, we have over 50 NGOs using this platform," Abraham informs. Some organisations like Antarang Foundation, a non-profit that works with disadvantaged young adults, even made their dashboards available to the public, sharing details of their relief work; they managed to distribute 5,500 kits in over eight days in Dharavi.
Santosh Abraham. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Another initiative called Sahaj Collective started in June-end, on the other hand, offers a free, comprehensive digital survey application for NGOs to collect information about their beneficiaries — the challenges they are facing right now and what they need most to survive in the coming months. Havovi Wadia, CEO, Save the Children, India, helped jumpstart the programme. "It is pro-bono but a partner NGO has the option to pay a nominal fee and expand the scope of the survey to address their specific needs," Abraham shares.
Both initiatives have garnered significant impact: while the app is being used by over 50 NGOs across the country and has helped track over 30,000 kits in 150-plus locations, Sahaj Collective has enabled organisations to survey over 2,000 families.
In the post-pandemic world, the co-founders are hopeful that their projects will no longer be necessary. But, Janardhanan says, "We are a long way off from a post-pandemic world and we have plans to change some of these initiatives to reflect the changing realities and to increase their effectiveness and transparency."
Number of NGOs across India the app has been used to track 30,000+ kits in 150+ locations
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