10 maart 2007
Dutch managers make Indian community kitchen profitable
"Streetchildren came knocking on the windows of our taxi. Large, dark brown eyes gaze at us, asking for money to get some food. Every time a huge dilemma, as we read in newspapers to stay away from giving money. It would only make begging a more attractive employment." This is a fragment, taken from the web log of two young Dutch managers, who decided to dedicate their knowledge to an Indian development for street children.
Kornelieke Buchel, Human Resource manager at the metal products manufacturer Corus, and Victor Vreeken, Operations Manager at the chemicals producer DSM, have just returned from New Delhi. During one month they supported the community kitchen of the Indian NGO Butterflies, where street children are taught how to cook and serve food. Meals are partly sold to companies and partly donated to street children.
Kornelieke Buchel: "Our main contribution was analysing their data, installing systems for cost control and looking for measures to reduce costs. NGOs like Butterflies are run by passionate people, but they lack knowledge of running a business. They do a lot in registration, but analysing this information is a totally different matter. I am sure our approach has opened their eyes."
The mission of Kornelieke Buchel and Victor Vreeken was facilitated by Share People, a Dutch organisation that cooperates with the private sector to reduce poverty in developing countries. Not by donating money, but by connecting Dutch professionals with small local enterprises to help them develop in a sustainable way. Kornelieke Buchel: "I always wanted to make my expertise available for a development project, but only on a temporary basis. When I joined a group exchange of Share People to India in September last year, I was very much impressed. And when the manager of Butterflies expressed her need for a business plan to make the community kitchen profitable in order to raise resources for new projects, I grabbed my chance. In February I returned to India with Victor Vreeken."
This kind of exchange works two ways. The local organisation benefits from the managerial skills of the professionals, whereas the professionals broaden their skills. Kornelieke Buchel: "Both Victor and I have an MBA, but the study programme hardly touches upon concepts such as Corporate Social Responsibility or the Bottom of the Pyramid. The funny thing is that an experience like this exactly fills this gap."
P+ webtip 1: Share People
P+ webtip 2: Butterflies