The year 2019 is a major milestone for the Setco Foundation, marking ten years of our journey with our partners, communities and stakeholders. What began as an effort to implement the Setco group’s philanthropic initiatives has now evolved into a ‘centre for innovation’. We work closely with our communities to better understand their critical needs, and incubate high-impact, sustained solutions to some of the most challenging development problems we face today.

We began our journey in 2009 by adopting and integrating three nearly non-functional anganwadis from three conflicted communities in Kalol. We started by providing simple nutrition support to 150 children in the form of milk and meals. Over the past decade, the foundation’s reach grew to work with 22 communities and more than 5000 beneficiaries across a series of programs:

  • maternal-infant health for malnutrition eradication
  • early childhood development and school readiness
  • livelihood generation
  • adolescent health and engagment
  • sports for adolescent empowerment

In the process, the Setco Foundation itself evolved from being a mere conduit of charitable initiatives to becoming an agent of learning and development.

In our quest to improve the health and nutritional status of our preschoolers, we began to learn more about the needs of the child and the family. We learned that the family played a crucial role in supporting child health. We learnt that malnutrition has a debilitating effect on a child’s physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development. This meant repercussions on school learning and retention as well as the child’s future prospects of being a contributing adult citizen. We began to understand how crucial a joyful and stimulating early childhood environment was to enable the physical, socio-emotional and cognitive needs of the child.

We began to understand how critical it was to have a healthy, well-nourished and engaged mother to support healthy babies, and prevent malnutrition. We realised that only healthy girls could become truly healthy mothers. We realised that it wasn’t enough only for girls to think about their nutrition but also about choices in life – like staying in school, delaying their marriages, becoming financially self-reliant. Exercising both voice and choice. This was the genesis of Setco Foundation’s life-cycle approach towards integrated health and child development.

Over time, we understood that while some problems could be addressed to some extent with some focussed solutions and interventions, sustained impact could never be achieved by addressing a problem in isolation. We recognised that real change was dependent on both, access to basic needs (such as clean water, food, sanitation) and also to the degree to which women were empowered to make decisions for not only their families but also in their communities. We needed to move from “fixing problems” as we saw them, to becoming a partner with our communities to help them voice their own concerns and design their own solutions. We started to see that we need to partner with other institutions and corporates, who could collaborate with us to not only provide better solutions, but also capture our learnings, work with us to develop models of best practise and share those learnings in the larger global community. This led to the evolution of our various internship programs as well as academic partnerships with global universities.

The Setco Foundation takes pride in driving the Setco Group’s CSR initiatives. We strive to redefine CSR as not mere philanthropy but as opportunity to leverage corporate resources to incubate outof-the-box, evidence-based solutions that can be scaled through partnerships with the government channels. This, we believe is the real purpose of CSR which we hope will drive our vision of a just and equitable society, not just locally but across the country.

Urja Shah
President, Setco Foundation