Meet the SHEROES - Prerna Mukharya Of Outline India
“We have technology, internet and numerous tech startups but what India needs, is a discussion of the ‘many’; of the people whose voices and opinions do not make it to our twitter feeds or Facebook walls,” says the SHERO behind Outline India.
How did the venture start? Prerna Mukharya shares her thoughts this Monday,
Let’s get to know you, do tell us about yourself?
Well, I love all things data.
Fieldwork makes me super happy. It is great to see, up, close and personal what rows of excel sheets, tech platforms, reports feed off- these are experiences of real people, real time. And it is an extremely humbling experience each time we step out, into a new town, village, district across India.
What led to starting up Outline India?
I have largely been in the academia before going the startup route. I spent a fair amount of time on the ground, doing research, writing code (statistical analysis) and I realized the quality of data in the development sector was bad. Data was either, non-existent, unreliable or archaic.
We have technology, internet and numerous tech startups but what India needs, is a discussion of the ‘many’; of the people whose voices and opinions do not make it to our twitter feeds or Facebook walls. We need ‘small data’; we need a one on one with the people. And we need our social schemes, our policy measures, our reports and philanthropic initiatives to drive change based on this ‘small data’. Outline India is an effort in this direction. We work with academics, think tanks, Universities, Foundations and by extension the Government, to provide high quality data.
What are the areas you are focusing on?
We take on projects that have social impact as integral component. Our works spans across the development sector. However, we have done a fair amount of work in water & sanitation, health, eduation, gender gaps, financial literacy and governance.
While our core competancy is fieldwork ie. Primary research, we do everything ranging form survey tool designing, to piloting interventions, to helping out with study design, monitoring and evaluation, assessments, ethnographies, hosting workshops et al.
Think of us as energetic academics who travel the country and meet people, deploy teams, mobilize resources in an effort to drive ‘social change’ via good data.
What are the major projects Outline India has worked on?
We have worked with several clients till date, from Brandeis to Tufts University, the British Council, research agencies abroad and in India.
We are the India partner for a 3 year long study being conducted across Malawi, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Rwanda. Funded by the US Department of Labor’s International Labor Affairs Bureau, the study seeks to understand and evaluate the work of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) in the realm of child labor.
We are also the data partner for a two year study on gender gaps, conducted by Gir Rising, NY and India, with Save the Children as the intervention partner in India.
The study is being conducted across Nigeria, DRC (Congo) and explores access to education and other metrics for a girl child given gender issues in Bihar and Rajasthan.
Also, we have worked across 12 states till date in the realm of water and sanitation, for the Swachbharat Abhiyan with numerous clients, both in India and abroad.
Tell us about your team…
We are a team of eleven full time researchers, some part time consultants, advisors and a field force across multiple states. Our field strength varies from 20-50 based on proejct requirements.
One big achievement of the team in this area - something you are really proud of doing
In 3.5 years, we have worked across 21 states, about 1000 villages, 15000+ stakeholder, generated about 4000+ man days of employment across fieldworkers, coordinators, supervisors, transcribers and data entry operators i.e. individuals with high school and/or little or no college education. And we did this all on our own. We are bootstrapped and growing organically at 300%. We have now commenced a process to scout for funding, to grow both within and outside of India.
A message to all SHEROES out there.
Don’t let the quick successes, crazy funding headlines, and Facebook feeds make you feel low.
It will get lonely, dark and you will have to wake up day after day, whether - you are sick, have had a breakup, are running low on money, or are clueless - and put in more work.
If you can do that, it will work out! It always does.