Genesis and Growth of Madhyam Foundation.
Madhyam Foundation was set up as a development support organization but over the years it diversified its role. The journey of Madhyam Foundation so far broadly falls into two phases as described below.
Madhyam came into being during May, 2003 when its founder director (Mr. S.K.Singhdeo) was hired by CARE-India as a strategic partner for a period of one & half year under its community based drought response programme (CBDRP) in Bolangir, Kandhmal & Gajapati districts of Odisha. The main mandate was to provide capacity building support to 38 NGO partners in the areas of promotion of self help groups and grain banks. However, Madhyam was formally registered as a society under Societies Registration Act of 1860 during July, 2004.
As the self help group movement was gaining momentum in the country and number of MFIs were getting established to cater to the credit needs of resource-poor households, Madhyam’s development support services mainly catered to the institution strengthening needs of SHGs, Self Help Promoting Institutions/NGOs & Micro Finance Institutions. These support services were fee based and provided by way of customized training and on-site handholding visits. Apart from this, Madhyam also undertook a number of evaluation studies & scoping studies for donor agencies such as Ford Foundation, CARE, India Development Service, USA, Freedom from hunger, OXFAM, Action Aid ,SKN-Netherlands, World Vision, Asian Dialogue Society of Singapore, Sir Dorabji Tata trust, Sa-Dhan and Rashtriya Gramin Vikas Nidhi
In course of such a strategic engagement, Madhyam realized that small & fledging NGOs in different pockets of the state were lacking supervision & capacity building fund for which they were not able to upscale their micro finance operation. In view of this, Madhyam approached Ford Foundation for such support to small NGOs. Ford Foundation agreed to support 9 such NGOs in 6 districts of the state. As Madhyam did not have the FCRA registration, the fund was routed through CYSD, a state level reputed NGO of the state. The Ford Foundation support went on for three years (2004-2007) and Madhyam was able to demonstrate that carefully designed low cost capacity building support could achieve significant results. In this phase, Madhyam also mobilized fund support for 3 NGOs of the state from IDS, USA and acted as the monitor of the project, on behalf of the donor.
The year 2008 was significant for Madhyam as it received FCRA registration as well as 12A registration (Income tax exemption). The Ford Foundation supported Madhyam directly in 2008 to work in a network mode with 9 NGOs from 6 districts. Madhyam adopted a sub sector approach while working on diary, poultry, vegetable cultivation & Systematic Rice Intensification (SRI) during the project. In 2008, it, Madhyam decided to initiate its direct action through an integrated livelihoods project in Ranpur block of Nayagarh district.
In 2009, Madhyam started another network project with 10 PNGOs in Kalahandi, Malkangiri & Khurdha district with support of AWO International, Germany. The project aimed at promoting vegetable cultivation among 5,000 small & marginal farmers & then collectivizing them under producer co-operatives for livelihoods security. The project has been continuing since then
In 2010, Madhyam was supported by Sir Dorabji Tata Trust(SDTT) to set up three diversion based irrigation structures(DBIs) in project area of Ranpur block in Nayagarh district.In view of the success of this project, the Tata Trust sanctioned another project to set up additional 6 irrigation structures between 2012-13 and 2014-15. In the same year, Madhyam played a key role while helping SDTT to launch a state wide programme on migration. Madhyam was then supported by SDTT to launch a project on minimizing adverse impact of migration in 235 villages of Ranpur block. This was a very new type of initiative,that was launched by NGOs in Odisha for the first time.
In 2011, the Ford Foundation again granted a support to Madhyam to continue its network mode operation in 6 districts with 8 NGO partners. The focus of this project is to strengthen 18 dairy & vegetable growers co-operatives, those were promoted during earlier project of Ford Foundation (2004-07).During October,2011 and January,2015 ICCO-Netherlands sanctioned three projects to a network called South Odisha Development Initiative with Madhyam as the lead agency to implement value chain based intervention in pigeon pea and turmeric and promotion of nutritional security respectively.
During 2015, AWO International of Germany sanctioned an integrated livelihoods project which is currently being implemented in Kandhamal district of Odisha.
In 2015, Govt of India sanctioned a skill building and placement linked project for rural youth under DDU-GKY scheme.
In December 2016, IRRI- Philippines sanctioned a project “Increasing productivity of Rice based cropping systems & Farmer’s income in Odisha” to profile the risk taking capacity of farmers & understand responses to risk and uncertainty in rice farming and to analyse the current status of crop insurance and social acceptance of insurance product.
Thus, during 2008-2016, Madhyam’s mode of engagement remained three fold; (1) direct action projects (2) network projects (3) need based capacity building & technical support. There are widely held perceptions that small holder operations cannot be sustained and does not offer solutions to the needs of the poor. Madhyam Foundation’s thrust has been to dispel such myth through appropriate programming in small holder operations ---be it agriculture, livestock or any other livelihood activities. Madhyam has been able to effectively leverage financial resources from several stakeholders and dovetailed these resources efficiently into the livelihoods financing at the household level.