We have spoken many times of our work and of our project participants but this time I would like to bring forth a unique relationship which CARE nurtures and grows. 
In CARE India we believe in partnering to implement our programs at the grass root. This is mainly to bring impact at scale, an opportunity which we might miss while adopting the direct implementation mode. Partnering with grass root organisation gives us an advantage of covering maximum ground with more households thus allowing our programmes to reach size, scale and efficiency of operations.

Mr Jeevanandam, CEO, NAMCO, Nagapattinam handing over financial literacy module to community based collectives


CARE India works with more than 53 NGO partners across the country. Our partners strength is that they are locally grounded and having strong understanding of the community for whom we both to bring the desired social change. The co-ordination and working together is an enriching experience as we learn from each other expertise and also imbibe true value of a partnership by facing all ups, downs and challenges together.
 While I was travelling in Nagapattinam District, I had a chance to meet one of our partner NGO, NAMCO (National Mother and Child Welfare Organisation), which supports us in implementing a micro finance program. NAMCO has its roots in Nagapattinam District, a district which is far away (as high as 300 Kms) from state headquarters. This district is lacking in most of the human development indicators resulting to issues of access and quality of basic services.
On my trip I also got a chance to meet Mr Jeevanandam, CEO of NAMCO. During our conversation he recalled the contours of our partnership since it was initiated and how the journey took a positive turn in its trajectory towards evolution. This experience made him to acknowledge the complete metamorphosis the organization took with support (both technical and on their system and processes) and influence of CARE. 
The technical assistance is acknowledged to be of high quality which helped them reach new standards. The community based financial collectives which took seeds when CARE initiated this partnership is on throes of unfolding into reaching next level of viability with shared capital from collectives being raised almost to half of its members in order to find one of their own sources of income to sustain their operations. The best practices promoted by CARE India for the financial collectives is a matter of curious interest for their other community based federations, beyond CARE partnership which has started to flow in for wider acceptance as they started seeing value in CARE’s inputs for micro finance operations. 
NAMCO happens to be a nodal agency for micro finance capacity building for the whole of the district even before CARE initiated its partnership, for which it sees CARE’s inputs very relevant and useful, with having following the CARE’s financial literacy package in the district spilling over beyond the two blocks of this partnerships. “Business planning, capitalization of community collectives, leveraging loan funds from financial institutions, effective management of loan portfolio, seeding livelihoods collectives are some of the new skills CARE taught us in our journey towards the next level of stabilization of collectives. On our part we have shared the revenue from services charges offered by companies for taking insurance and pension services to the community by giving 60% of the income to the community collectives, a move to bolster the sustainability of collectives”, said  Jeevanandam CEO of NAMCO. “Be it migration from manual accounting to tally based accounting, coordinated actions from our staff with more ownership and team work or leveraging new funding opportunities, I couldn’t but acknowledge the support from CARE which made a big difference to us. We made a big difference in institutionalizing livelihoods clusters and financial collectives by mustering CARE’s technical expertise to leave behind legacy institutions by putting community firs”’ was how he explained CARE’s contribution.      
In a recent general body meeting of collectives apart from discussing about finance related matters, there has been good discussion on non-financial, social aspects including awareness on prevention of sexual exploitation on women. 
The members of the collectives took a pledge on how they will uphold women’s rights and espouse the cause of equality in every sphere of life. “CARE’s inputs have helped us initiate at least four livelihoods clusters through a value chain approach which helped us think through access of service providers, right in the beginning instead of learning after the damage is being done. This challenges our conventional thinking we could do all with merely credit but CARE made us realize that it is beyond credit, the non-financial services improve the productivity of investment and keep the activity going” said Jeevanandam.
He was all praise for CARE’s financial and procurement systems which have demonstrated efficiency and transparency in the organization. CARE’s performance appraisal system is something which NAMCO feels that they could emulate to bring about performance based HR management to bring about complete transformation in their support systems and functions, as NAMCO believes in human capital as a critical factor in any organization’s development. 
As I travel back while I feel proud of being a part of the organisation, I also retrospect like the way our partner acknowledges learnings with CARE’s relationship/partnership, how CARE can also learn from its partners to design, implement and improve on our programming and how we could improve on the efficacy of our engagement with partners in the days to come, as this is a strong relationship which helps us to deliver at the grass root and bring change in many lives we work with.

   By R Devaprakash, Regional Programme Director, Learning Site Hub, Tamil Nadu, CARE India