Reframing challenges into opportunities

Excerpt from LiveMint article on March 28th, 2016 - interview by Arundhati Ramanathan

Co-Founder of the Pond-Deshpande Centre, Gururaj Deshpande, becoming a problem solver:

“Old philanthropy model is one where you look at what people need and come up with policies and solutions, and to me that hasn’t worked.

There are three types of people in the world. The first type is oblivious to everything, some who see a problem and complain, and some get excited about a problem. The only difference between an impoverished community and a vibrant community is the ratio of these people. So if you look at Boston or Silicon Valley, entrepreneurship is so much in the air right now that everyone wants to solve a problem. In a lot of ways they don’t have good problems to solve. But the good thing is everyone is looking for a problem to solve. As a result, no obvious problem (both social and business) that has a solution remains unsolved as there are so many people wanting to do something about it.

When you come to impoverished communities, lots of people complain, because problems are chronic and deadlocked. And people don’t see an easy solution to these and feel victimized. They feel someone else needs to solve the problem. So the whole culture transforms to the one where people sit around complaining. So, the approach we are taking is to slowly encourage people to become problem solvers. Once someone becomes passionate about a problem and starts thinking about it feverishly, and the moment you see a solution, that’s the aha moment. It marks the transformation from being a complainer to a problem solver. And once people transition, they don’t go back because it is so much more fun to be solving problems.”

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