Emerged from a tiny basement office in the grandmother’s house, this month 4th Wheel is celebrating 6 years of promoting more effective social development programs. Let’s take this moment to reflect on what we have achieved so far – this is our story:
In 2010, we started our journey with the vision of Corporate Social Responsibility projects designed and implemented in a more effective way. We have seen tremendous potential in the power of CSR aligned with strategies of other development actors, to solve some of India’s pressing challenges and have worked with a number of Corporates in India over the last few years. CSR and the discourse on sustainability were still blank books that needed to be filled with informed considerations, well-designed processes in terms of implementation and both local and global case studies to showcase its potential. 4th Wheel conducted numerous trainings and spoke at various conferences to spread their social message on strengthening social development programs, based on collective action of varied stakeholders in 2011.
Aligning CSR programs as closely as possible with the company’s core, in 2012, 4th Wheel started its own employee engagement program: The Plan and Participate Project! Over eight different training sessions were conducted with Ahmedabad-based corporates and more than 300 employees were connected with local NGOs for volunteering opportunities.
In 2013, we focused on identifying best practices from all over the country and engaged with prominent companies and NGOs by documenting their work in project reviews or annual reports. Aiming at reflecting reality as much as possible, and grasping all voices involved, we took up participatory field research methods and collaborated with a broad range of organisational stakeholders. We also conducted our first profound impact assessment, applying the Social Return on Investment framework on education initiatives.
Building on these experiences, our team noticed that it’s not the willingness or motivation of organizations that is missing but rather the profound knowledge of ground realities. Since then we have felt that an integral aspect to achieve tangible and lasting social impact is data collection and data tracking, i.e. baseline studies, continuous monitoring and evaluation studies.
From 2014 on, a lot of energy went into finding solutions on how to gather data and transform it into measurable and understandable results. During numerous research projects, we could expand our range of methodologies, constantly contextualizing them to specific project realities on the ground. At that time, we discovered that incorporating Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) of programs had tremendous potential to bring new voices and broader participation in program diagnosis.
Consequently, in 2015 we set up Fourth Wheel Social Impact Pvt. Ltd. (4WSI) a 4th Wheel sister company that aims to establish itself as a ‘thought leader’ in the social impact space, with a focus on technology and multi-stakeholder partnerships. Today, the 4th Wheel and 4WSI envision to improve and strengthen development programs, and to aid the achievement of maximum social impact by offering services on Baseline Research, Communication 4 Dev, Capacity Building, Impact Evaluation.
Our entrepreneurial journey has seen successes and failures, enabled learning and exposure, and has helped us create new networks and friendships. We take this opportunity to thank you for accompanying us on the way and playing a role in helping us reach where we are today.