India is experiencing an unprecedented crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The scale and severity of the crisis has overwhelmed health systems and put millions of livelihoods at risk. During this tough time, help has been pouring in from multiple sources, from international agencies and nations to corporates and high net-worth individuals (HNIs).
While there are several helping hands and donors, there is also confusion about how the funds can reach the intended beneficiaries. Sometimes, donors are not aware of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) requirements in a state, and at other times, they are unable to find worthy NGOs to efficiently implement their CSR aspirations. It is this gap that ‘Akanksha’, an integrated CSR Facilitation Platform launched in Karnataka on 26 May, aims to bridge. The innovative platform is a product of UNDP’s collaboration with the Department of Planning, Programme Monitoring and Statistics, Government of Karnataka.
‘Akanksha’ was launched by Mr. BS Yediyurappa, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, in the august presence of Mr. KC Narayana Gowda, Minister for Planning in the state, Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, Ms. Shoko Noda, Resident Representative, UNDP India, and other distinguished dignitaries from the government, private sector and civil society organisations.
While thanking UNDP for its continued support, CM Yediyurappa said during the launch, “Akanksha will be a transparent bridge between the government and donors in taking up CSR projects smoothly. This will ensure CSR money goes to projects that are really in need.”
With the help of Artificial Intelligence, Akanksha will help in facilitating the match-making process between Government, Donors, Implementors/NGOs. It will identify stakeholders, assess the credibility of projects, and provide donors with an array of programmes and activities they could fund.
The portal has pre-loaded contact details of 2,632 companies operating in Karnataka with a turnover of more than Rs. 1,000 crore and profit exceeding Rs. 5 crore. It also has details of 6,300 NGOs registered within the state in NITI Aayog’s Darpan Portal. Nearly 15,000 state government officials will facilitate the functioning of the Akanksha portal at the state, district and taluk level.
“I am happy to share that the SDGCC is interacting actively with many donors in Karnataka to provide them with inputs on the requirements at Covid Care Centres and hospitals in the state. Akanksha will now be able to provide these donors an overview of the requirements in Aspirational Districts and the Backward Taluks of the state, helping us to reach out to as many people as we can in need,” said Shoko Noda, Resident Representative, UNDP India.
Echoing her sentiments, the CEO of Niti Aayog, Amitabh Kant added, “NITI Aayog has ranked Karnataka as the No.1 state as far as innovation is concerned. With the Akanksha platform, Karnataka will go on to become a role model in investment facilitation and guide all other states in developing similar tools.”
Akanksha will play a pivotal role in convergence of state spend, CSR funding and aligning outcomes that will help to achieve Karnataka’s SDG Vision 2030. The unique portal has already generated CSR commitments of Rs 175 crore from corporates, while 5,800 NGOs in Karnataka have been onboarded from NITI Aayog’s Darpan.