I recently attended a conference in Pune on Social Innovation
hosted by the visionary Prof. Anil Gupta
. With me was our own Bhav Yatri Sheetalben
, who was representing ESI. There were many illustrious speakers throughout the day, including the founder of Jaipur Foot which has designed cheap and flexible artificial limbs which to provides free to the poor and Dr. Devi Shetty, who runs a 15,000 bed "health city" that does 12% of India's heart procedures. But my highlight was at the end of the conference, when a chance was given to anyone who hadn't spoken to share. Sheetalben gets up and humbly shares that she is from Moved By Love at the Gandhi Ashram :) where she has observed that social innovation begins with connecting hearts. It's not about the hardware, it's the software that is most critical. We can talk about funding and scaling, but what about the social capital that allows you to go into a village where you don't speak the language and do an intervention? What's needed are trust networks. With trust established, people will be ready to adopt any technology you offer. She was the only speaker that received a spontaneous ovation! Prof. Gupta himself was so thrilled and referred to Sheetal several times throughout the conference in reminding us all that social impact must infuse values of compassion, generosity, and love, and these are things in the realm of heart, not mind.