Dear Team,

Hope 2020 bring lots of joy and bliss to you and your near and dear and may it also empower you to brighten the lives of those you serve through your work at Wadhwani.

I am heartened to note that 2019 was a year of many ‘Wadhwani Wins’ duly captured in individual Initiative updates, but I want to highlight a few.

    • Wadhwani Advantage: After piloting in 2018, we embraced supporting SMEs via our Advantage Initiative and helped growth of over 200 companies across India, Mexico, and Brazil. Advantage has taken off extremely well and today constitutes the largest team in the Foundation with massive scale plans in 2020.
    • NSDC Partnership: NSDC (India) mandated Wadhwani employability skills to hundreds of their training partners and PSSCIVE did the same for 12,000 high schools.
    • Gates Grant: We won a globally competitive Gates Foundation grant of $1.5M to upskill hundreds of Govt. of India funded Incubators. An external validation of our work is also a great affirmation of your commitment and hard work.
    • ET NOW Partnership: In partnership with the Indian TV channel, ET NOW we offered entrepreneurs a mass-market platform that “song” and “dance” Reality Shows have traditionally been enjoying. The broadcast of our show will start in January. We are experimenting a similar program in Mexico through streaming media with the goal of rolling it out globally in the near future.
    • Advantage/VFT Platform: We rolled out our first SME/Startup entrepreneur support APP providing our entrepreneurs with on-demand, personalized content and connects to accelerate their growth. Our VFT vision and our APP was one main reason to win the Gates grant competing against global players.
    • VBC Acquisition: We acquired a company, VBC, that over the past five years has built solutions to support Incubators/Accelerators and their Startups. Starting Jan 1st, 2020 their team of five will become part of our VFT team and we expect rapid scale of our VFT program in 2020.
    • Global Expansion: EEgypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Brazil, Bangladesh – all new additions in 2018 – gained traction and momentum in 2019.
    • Initiatives Added: Three significant new initiatives were seeded in 2019.
      • Wadhwani Invent to provide thousands of Govt. sponsored Innovation grants to SME’s and Startups
      • Wadhwani Research and Policy focusing on driving policy reforms that accelerate job creation and job fulfilment
      • Wadhwani Catalyst aimed at catalysing scale in organizations that demonstrate success in job creation and job fulfilment at the global level

    The above wins and many more noted below create a strong base for us to take giant strides in 2020.

  • As we embark upon 2020, it’s also important to focus on our challenges, so that 2020 will be an even more successful year for the Foundation.Globally, every youth aspires to support himself/herself first and soon the family, enabled through a high-quality job. Unfortunately, jobs are a rapidly diminishing commodity today. You and your work, by creating high-quality jobs, are making an enormous and generation-transforming impact on their lives — never forget it.Given this powerful mission, we need to drive perfection in everything we do as someone’s well-being is at the end of our work. OOne of our biggest challenges in 2019 has been that while we work hard, we have not always worked smart. Working smart entails thinking through the details, optimizing and executing to perfection. At times, absence of such detailed thinking resulted in painful wastes and delays. Every small misstep by us could have giant impact in someone’s life. Each of us is very capable of overcoming this shortcoming and together we shall overcome in 2020. It is critical we perform at the level of perfection, not only because lives depend on it, but a job done to perfection always comes with instant internal joy.
  • Second, notice my highlights are weak on outcomes data – the very purpose of our work. In 2020, let’s have a maniacal focus on outcomes — which for us is quite straightforward: High-quality Jobs Created, Placed, and Retained.Every week, next year, you ask yourself:
        • How many jobs did my WA SME create?
        • How many Startups WE enabled which in turn created jobs or will create jobs soon?
        • How many students skilled by WO got jobs and how many are still in the job and how many of those are progressing in their jobs?
        • Which Wadhwani championed Policy reforms created the most jobs or accelerated placement and retention?
        • How many jobs were created by companies that Wadhwani Catalyst program supported?
        • How much did I spend to create a single job? Can I do better next month?
        • Last and most importantly, how do I help accurately measure these outcomes as a first step for us to learn and introspect as described above?

    Onward and upwards.

Wadhwani Advantage

India: Below are recent highlights:

  • 603 jobs created, 107 SMEs being transformed pan India
  • 470 content assets onboarded on the Wadhwani App
  • NPS of North SMEs reached 100; Pan India 70; Client satisfaction score ~9 out of 10
  • Developing of self-discovery tools as part of automation drive initiated. 20 new discoveries in progress with the low touch engagement model by administering the SMEs self-discovery tools developed to help them diagnose their businesses on their own to be able to undergo transformations
  • 3 high potential global partnership opportunities identified through networking in the SME Finance Forum (World Bank IFC founded platform) conference in Amsterdam
  • Second SME Event was held in Pune on Nov 23. It drew a large attendance of over 75 SMEs, Advisors and partners who rated the event 8.5 on a scale of 10
  • First SCALATHON event being planned on Jan 7, 2020 in Kochi, which will be modelled little differently than the LatAm SCALATHON by having a hybrid of discovery and transformation hours donated by advisors with self-discovery tool being administered to some SMEs before the event
  • Samir’s article was published in Asia Global Online (a publication of Asia Global Institute which is a reputed Hong Kong University):
  • Samir was a panelist in ‘Tech for Impact Asia’ Event in New Delhi on Sep 24, 2019 and at ‘Indus Guru event ‘Secrets of Successful Scale-up’ in Mumbai on Nov 27, 2019. He was a speaker at the SME Chamber of India event on Sep 28, 2019

LatAm: Mexico successfully deployed a low-touch engagement model for the Wadhwani Advantage program through a SCALATHON, a hackathon style event where 30 SMEs received 450 hours of consulting from 60 consultants and experts (like EY Mexico and Santander PyMEs) in leadership, communication and KPIs during a weekend, validating our model to perform in a fast, efficient and scalable manner and establishing a process to plan 10 of such events in 2020 for massively scaling the WA program. The first edition of Scalathon managed to garner more than $US 100,000 between investment from sponsors and donation time from consultants and volunteers to boost SME growth. Watch here

Brazil restarted engagement with the 1st cohort and is working on establishing strong partnerships in 2020.

Egypt: Wadhwani Advantage program is set to be introduced in partnership with Consulting Pad to help SMEs accelerate their growth and create jobs. The partnership is already pursuing 2 high potential proposals with Government of Egypt and a large private sector bank. The technology company has a platform that would be API integrated with Wadhwani Advantage APP.

Wadhwani Entrepreneur

India: This has been a particularly eventful and exciting time for WE India.

We secured the Gates Foundation funding to support/upgrade hundreds of NITI Aayog funded Incubators/Accelerators in India to the tune of $1.5M over two years, starting in Nov. 2019. Monica Mehta, Gayathri Sharma, Austin Thomas and Swati Mittal shepherded this through the competitive process.

The second Wadhwani Takeoff Pitch Event was held in Raipur on 27th October. Five Startups (Finology, Minocular, Jivandeep, GIM Books, Cunomial Technologies) pitched to a jury consisting of Rajeev Roy (Professor Entrepreneurship, XLRI | Ex- CEO, 36 INC), Anshul Dave (CEO, Oceans Bridge Financial Advisory LLP), Brijesh Thakkar (Chief Investment Officer, Chhattisgarh Investments Ltd.) and Gayathri Sharma (Wadhwani Foundation).

In 47 colleges across India, students are working on 400+ Practice Ventures as part of the Foundational course.

For the Wadhwani VFT release in 2020, the team is designing the HiPO Enabler Program and developing content for the Ongoing Support Program via the App.

LatAm: Mexico deployed a Direct to Classroom (D2C) model for the Wadhwani NEN Courses by having a trained faculty streaming the courses directly to students in 5 different batches. This model allows the Wadhwani NEN team to plan for exponential scale in 2020 by reducing the dependence on trained faculties and facilitating capacity building in the institutes through peer-to-peer learning and classmates’ support.

Brazil finalized the Portuguese implementation of the Foundational course content deployment, thereby increasing the institute engagement. In 2020, scale up is expected due to the partnership signed with SEMESP, a group that represents 700 Institutes in the country thereby allowing for Wadhwani presence across the country.

West Africa: Knustford University College, Accra, Ghana; Garden City University College, Kumasi, Ghana and Heritage Christian University College, Accra, Ghana joined the West Africa Region’s Wadhwani NEN family. FDP was conducted for selected faculties from these 3 colleges in September 2019.

MENA: The MENA team held their 1st E-Leader workshop for Egypt Fall 2019 semester at the American University in Cairo (AUC) on 26th Oct, in cooperation with AUC Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center. 100 E-Leaders from 5 different Egyptian partner institutes participated: Arab Academy for Science and Technology, Heliopolis University, Zewail University, Nile University and the hosting institute, AUC. Startup Club activities were explained to E-Leaders and keynote speech by 2 prominent entrepreneurs were given during the event. Certificate of Merit was distributed to the top performing students from different institutes as well as faculty that attended Wadhwani FDP Training during August 2019. Highlights can be seen here

Wadhwani Opportunity

South Africa: The Department of Higher Education and Training for the Western and Northern Cape provinces have committed to rollout the JobWISE from mid-2020 at eight vocational training colleges, through 40 campuses. Starting early 2020, the 1st phase of the program will target around 2000 N6 final year Engineering Diploma students. The goal is to make JobWISE a core curriculum component for all exit and final year students in 2021, targeting around 50,000 exit year students by 2022. A “Warm-up” phase will be launched in February 2020 with select colleges and faculty before facilitator training in April.

Namibia: After more than a year of painstaking efforts, Government of Namibia’s training wing, The Namibia Training Authority (NTA) has become our partner. NTA has included JobWISE into their curriculum with credits offered to students in one of their Certificate Programs.

This was done via a Technical Working Group workshop in which 25 trainers from 7 NTA Vocational Training Centers and two parastatal training centres, were brought together from across six regions to conduct a full scheme curriculum mapping of the NTA Unit Standards with that of the Jobwise 2.1. 100% integration of Employability Skills course content was done into the Teaching and Learning Program and roll out is planned in the 2020 academic year starting February. 1,041 trainees are projected to complete the Employability Skills in 2020.

India: Below are the highlights:

1. WO launched a counselling app ‘Mera Job, Mera Career’ to help job-seeking individuals and students in the skilling domain get an understanding of India’s top 12 sectors and make an informed decision on which sector or industry they should pursue their careers. The app can be downloaded and installed for Android phones from Google Play Store. Click here to install the app. So far 550+ users have registered on the app. The module will also be made available to all students in India through LearnWise.

2. Smile Foundation collaborated with us with an intent to improve the employability of young bright minds who undergo four months of training on our Job Ready and Retail content. The collaborative venture has witnessed behavioural and attitudinal shifts in students. As a result, 92 out of 120 students who underwent training had successful employment. Here, we present story of Khan Rukaiya.

3. First Friday Forum – An initiative by WO, Delhi Team: Divided by Gender, United by Cricket Match.

An all-women cricket team led by Monica Agarwal beat the all-men team in a 4 overs’ cricket match (played with a paper and cello tape rolled ball with the diary turned into a bat) at the Delhi Office. 44 runs! Seema hit 3 back to back sixes, Kashish with a score of 8 and Arundhati unbeaten on 18, made it difficult for men’s team to make a comeback. In case you are wondering what’s going on here, here’s the answer – In the middle of a hectic day, we need a refresher. So, we take a break, get divided into teams and plan an engagement activity like this. The bet was that the losing team will buy Samosas for all the entire WO, Delhi Team. All-men’s team had to ultimately treat the entire office. Another cricket match is awaiting you. Come and be part of it!

LatAm: First pilot of 1,000 Students is working as planned and the first FDP process is expected in Jan 2020 for deployment in a group of Polytechnic institutes in the south of Mexico with a potential of 50k students. This will validate both the content in local language as well of the reception to our skill program in the region.

SEA: Sunil Dahiya addressed a ~1,000 strong audience at the “The Future of Jobs: Education and Upskilling of the Workforce” conference organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI). Here WO’s focus on employability skills for youths and young adults was enunciated strongly. President of PCCI Human Resource Development Foundation, Dr. Alberto Fenix announced the signing of a MoU between Wadhwani Foundation and PCCI to collaborate towards job creation in Philippines.

West Africa: A partnership with Osun State Vocational Institutes (OSSBTVE) was signed and below is a blog on the same.
Two recently signed WO partner Institutes namely National Vocational Training Institutes (NVTI), Ghana with 6 TVET Institutes and Osun State Board of Technical and Vocational Education (OSSBTVE), Nigeria with 9 TVET Institutes were formally trained in Faculty Development Programs held in Accra, Ghana and Osogbo, Nigeria.

Wadhwani Marketing

The partnership with ET NOW gained momentum and airing of Wadhwani Pitch episodes will commence in Jan 2020. Winning Pitch is India’s biggest and arguably the first ever Shark Tank kind of investor pitch show on Indian television.

Two of the four zonal Winning Pitch events (Mumbai on 27th November & Bangalore on 20th Dec) were successfully conducted with some of India’s most promising SMEs and startups pitching their business proposition to a high-powered jury consisting of leading and serious investors. The other two zonal events are scheduled to be held in New Delhi in Jan and in Kolkata in Feb 2020. This will be capped with a mega finale in March 2020.

A brand exercise to craft & align the Wadhwani brand promise through active listening across external Wadhwani stakeholders on Brand assessment & image, issues & opportunities resulted in insights into Brand Definition, Architecture and Identity. Also, the Wadhwani Winning Values were crafted in addition to the already existing Foundational values of Innovation, Collaboration, Integrity, Excellence, Leadership & Impact. These Winning Values can be viewed at:

A Phase 2 plan of the Brand exercise with the explicit objective of actively scaling the Wadhwani Brand in 2020 and beyond is ready for due diligence . This is a great time to build forward with the goodness and increased traction of our initiatives, mass partnerships like that of ET NOW, leveraging the power of strategic branding and the need for tighter integration of master-brand with initiative brands. The Phase 2 plan focuses on a media-led strategy to create mass awareness & salience with the right partnerships and activation programs. Stay tuned!

Impact & Office of the CEO

Q3 Impact Reports and November monthly feedback by region was released and discussed with each program team. NPS ratings were encouraging, especially from our directly contacted stakeholders (SMEs and Faculty; all above 60) but can be improved.

As part of sharing our impact externally, Changing Lives 2018 report was shared with ~1.4 lakh Wadhwani Foundation beneficiaries and included invites to apply to Wadhwani Advantage and Wadhwani Takeoff programs.

The team continues to collect video feedback from our beneficiaries across programs. Click to view feedback from:

Ismail El-Azzazy (Student, Nile University, Egypt (Wadhwani Entrepreneur)
Sriram Kanuri, Arteria Technologies, Bengaluru (Wadhwani Advantage)
Shaikh Shaziya, Smile Foundation, Mumbai (Wadhwani Opportunity)

The collection of annual outcomes data (attributable jobs created in WA, ventures and entrepreneur/jobs created in WE and students placed in WO) has been initiated and is to be completed soon for inclusion in the Annual Changing Lives Impact Report/Videos. The team is also assessing proposals from external agencies to evaluate our 2019 impact.

The Microsoft Planner tool (to track action items; click here for more) has been adopted by most groups and Microsoft Teams (for collaboration across teams; click here for more) has been introduced in management and select groups. We soon plan to roll-out these productivity tools globally. An inclusive annual planning process centered around bottom-up and top-down Vision-Strategy-Execution by each group is being driven to drive plans for 2020 along with targets vs. actuals tracking.

Wadhwani Invent

Wadhwani Invent launched its Phase II comprising of the Research and Development Acceleration Grant publicized through a Request for Proposal (RFP-R&DAG-19001) for inviting pre-applications. Also, emailers were sent out to multiple incubators and bio-incubators, premier institutions, and angel investors.

With these applications, Wadhwani Invent’s goal is to initially make 3-5 awards. Additionally, progress has been made towards Atal Innovation Mission (NITI Aayog) and Wadhwani Foundation partnership to soon launch the Government of India’s ARISE program.

Wadhwani Technology Platform

If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Improve It. One of the key jobs of the Platform team is to provide the right metrics and reports to measure the effectiveness of each of our initiatives on a real time basis. For the data collected in our LearnWISE platform, the team has been using a business analytics tool called Qliksense and this has been working well for tracking our college programs. Over the last month, the platform team has not only enhanced the college dashboards in Qliksense, but also finally caught up with creating the right dashboards for our Wadhwani Opportunity programs. We can now measure engagement levels and real time ‘composite score’ performance at various levels – regions, institutes, batches and all the way down to each student.

For WO, we have big opportunity with NSDC, where they want to use some of our learning modules to train 10,000 women (micro-) entrepreneurs in a fully digital form. The team is working on the platform changes required to seamlessly integrate with NSDC portal (with Single Sign On) and to run the course in a fully self-serve mode without a faculty.

On WA, a new insight that the field teams brought to the table is that our product should focus on the ‘growth drivers’ that will be key to the SME’s transformation journey. Growth Driver is now a new tag in our platform, and it is an important factor in recommending the right content and connects. The platform team is also getting ready to host the Wadhwani Venture Fasttrack users on the Advantage app on a short-term basis as the requirements are very similar as of now. For this to happen, a bunch of platform work for creating separate sandbox environments to host both the SME and Startup ecosystems on the same product was undertaken.

Lastly, a small platform team has started working on a side project to prototype a new avatar of LearnWISE. The boss doesn’t know about this yet, so let this be our little secret 😊. While LearnWISE is functionally ok, there are two big problems with it — the UI/UX isn’t very intuitive and secondly, the code is not modular, which gets in the way of fast development. The root cause for both these issues is that LearnWISE is actually two different systems under the hood (one being a third party LMS called Tribyte) and integration between the two systems isn’t very clean. The team did a quick POC of a new architecture to address these issues and it is looking promising. More on this in the next update!

Wadhwani Global University for Faculty

WGU has been listening and introspecting; looking at ways to revamp the present model of faculty development so that it is efficient, effective and set up for scale to serve us well in the long-term.

In the meanwhile, WGU is looking at various initiatives for quick wins in the short-term, such as:

  • Providing support to faculty for grading assignments through a focused Masterclass
  • Piloting a voluntary PV Mentoring and Support program that will help faculty to mentor and guide students and meaningful Practice Ventures
  • Identifying top-5 amongst the present active faculty for a reward & recognition program which is in the process of getting instituted
  • Identifying faculty who are displaying early warning signs for proactively taking corrective actions
  • Launch of the Spice Box which will help faculty start-up and will serve as a result reckoner for process related guidelines
  • Transition Program for WO which will help the faculty move from earlier versions of the content to Jobwise 2.1

Wadhwani Market Research and Policy

A detailed presentation on ‘job-triggering economic reforms required in India’ led to deep insights into the topic.

There were fruitful meetings with the Union Cabinet Minister for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, GoI, Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey where we shared thoughts on the skill development priorities for India, including the Wadhwani focus on Employability Skills and with the Senior Economic Advisor, GoI with regard to Wadhwani inputs on GoI’s Working Group on Industrial Policy.

Jayant Krishna participated in India Today’s show on making the Indian youth industry ready. In addition, he addressed the Vice Chancellors’ Conclave organized by The Times of India on Digitalization and Internationalization of Education and addressed another session on ‘Education 4.0 – The Future of Higher Education’. Jayant also participated as a Jury at the ‘Economic Times India MSME Awards’.

The Wadhwani Chair in U.S. India Policy Studies at The Center for Strategic and International Studies, Rick Rossow hosted Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s Minister of External Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Wadhwani HR

Q3 ended with 85% positions closed through low cost/direct channels. Hiring Cycle Time Reduction (CTR) strategy is in place to reduce 30% hiring time with the help of new recruiting tool (ZohoRecruit) and critical process automation – tool evaluation study initiated.

New recruitment process ownership and CEO Approval decision matrices were brainstormed, discussed and released. The focus is on solving pain points of delays, late job descriptions preparations, low quality of resumes and bureaucracy.

The Global People Cross Functional Team (CFT) having representation from all programs/regions/department came up with suggestions on “How to maximize productivity with flexibility?” and “How do we create a vibrant organization?” – most of which is on the implementation roadmap.

The HR team thanks all for their enthusiastic participation (91% response) in the Pulse Survey. The responses and comments for each question were reviewed in detail and specific actions identified for implementation. The overall Happiness Index is at 3.54/5; responses showed a considerable improvement in majority of the individual questions and also opportunity for improvement in two areas. As we build a high performing organization, our collective endeavour is to take the Happiness Index >4.

Wadhwani Finance, Admin and Legal

Audit of the Indian entities was completed to the satisfaction of the auditors and the FAL team is now looking into the interim audit. An important development is that Zoho expense and travel was launched globally. Work is on with HR and Marketing to launch other Zoho applications.

Legal processes are being streamlined and digitization options are being evaluated. The Legal SharePoint is updated with the latest MoUs.