Global Action on Poverty (GAP) Meet 2015, Ahmadabad, India

Article from South Asia Newsletter: October 2014 - April 2015

On the 85th anniversary of the Dandi March - a movement where Mahatma Gandhi led thousands of Indians to claim their economic and political rights - the first convention of GAP (Global Action on Poverty) took off at Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, to catalyse other leaders on another journey. The two-day GAP conference, on March 12 and 13, held at Sabarmati Ashram and Gujarat Vidyapeeth, brought together over 200 leaders, activists, entrepreneurs and individuals who shared the passion and ambition to remove poverty on a global scale. Poverty is a complex issue, reflecting social exclusion, opportunity exclusion and income exclusion, all deeply connected with each other. GAP, recognizing the need for a systemic intervention to impact poverty, was designed along the rails of Learning, Collaboration and Action, to enable impact.


What is the knowledge one needs to achieve one’s goals and does not yet have? What are capabilities one needs and one does not have? How will this knowledge be obtained and how will the capabilities be acquired? Answering these questions were leading stalwarts from the development sector, who as Mentors, were present to inspire, instigate and invigorate others to pursue their goal to alleviate poverty. The eight mentors at GAP were:

  • Prof Mohd Yunus, Nobel Laureate and founder of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh
  • Ela Bhatt, Founder, SEWA (Self Employed Womens Association), India
  • Aruna Roy, RTI Activist and founder of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghathan - a peoples movement
  • Jean Dreze, Development Economist
  • Madhav Chavan, Co-Founder and CEO of Pratham Educational Initiative, Mumbai
  • Harish Hande, Co-Founder of SELCO (The Solar Electric Light Company), India
  • Harsh Mandar, Director of the Centre for Equity Studies, ex-bureaucrat and social activist
  • Vijay Mahajan, Founder of BASIX - a livelihood promotion institution in India


Successful projects to change systemic conditions such as poverty must work with several partners, with their own competencies and specific causes they are pursuing. Poor collaboration is one of the principal causes of failures of well-intentioned and even very well resourced projects aiming to change systemic conditions. Therefore, GAP aimed at building and strengthening coalitions between people and organizations to create impact.

GAP connected ‘Catalysts’ - people who believed they could do something but did not have the opportunity to do it, with ‘Changemakers’ – people who knew what they wanted to do but lacked resources. GAP’s event flow, that comprised plenary discussions, break out sessions, cluster discussions and one on one interactions, facilitated lateral connections between Catalysts and Changemakers. Through the two days, Changemakers and catalysts got an opportunity to share their stories, trigger conversations and invite collaborators. The collaborations were across multiple sectors, including Health and Nutrition, Water and Sanitation, Agriculture and Food Security, Education and Skills, Employment and Social Security and Environment.


One manages what one measures. Insufficient progress along the rails of Collaboration and Learning will stall the progress along the rail of Action. Therefore GAP incorporated milestones and measures for managing progress along all three rails. Changemakers and Catalysts were invited to write the key milestones along their stories to reach their destination. This helped them learn and determine what next and how, keeping their end goal in mind.


In a sense, GAP has just begun. We look forward to a year of working together – inspiring, challenging, and reciprocating - with our Mentors, Catalysts and Changemakers. The success of GAP lies in its follow up on collaborations formed, money raised, knowledge learned, volunteers enrolled, experiments made, actions taken, and so on. We are committed to taking the projects from GAP 2015 to fruition. Each project is expected to set a target of certain number of persons to be taken out of poverty every year through their planned projects and activities. It is expected that by 2018, there would be as much as 500 such projects undertaken in different parts of the country. Thus, the total impact would be continuous, exponential in its growth and considerable across the world. ICSW South Asia Regional Committee joins hands with Head Held High Foundation in taking the GAP actions ahead in the year to come along with other GAP partners.