DEF and Synergy, a Sikkim-based NGO which aims at promoting partnership between various groups, organised a one-day seminar for non-government organisations, self-help groups and entrepreneurs in Gangtok on April 2, 2016. During the workshop, the participants were enlightened about opportunities on e-Commerce, social media and crowd funding and corporate social responsibility. Following the welcome address by Meghna Thapa of Centre for Environment Education, the programme began with a discussion on the issues and challenges being faced by NGOs today. NGOs were also told how the .ngo domain can add credible and validity to their names.
The moderator of the panel discussion Shri Rajesh Verma, Retired IT Secretary, said that although there were many NGOs registered in Sikkim there were only a few that were active. These NGOs and other organisations were doing yeoman service in remote areas but were struggling to sustain themselves because of lack of finances. “It is a proven fact that one effective way to get visibility is by hosting a website. Unless organisations have a digital presence they do not exist,” he said. NGOs were also informed about how the .ngo domain can bring credibility and validity to their organisation’s name.
Panelists during an interaction session included Sikkim Cooperative Union President Ganesh Rai, National Association for the Blind President Jayshree Pradhan, GMC Commissioner CP Dhakal, Dr. BB Rai of Voluntary Health Association of Sikkim, and Dr. Syed Kazi from DEF.
Some of the major issues that the participants raised were:
- Poor Internet connectivity is coming in the way of creating marketing linkages for SHGs who want to sell their products online
- NGOs are finding it difficult to tap CSR funds of companies operating within Sikkim
- Sensitisation programme for artisans and grassroots-level SHGs on e-Commerce and cybercrime is required
- A federation of SHG requires to be established in the area
Based on the discussions the following recommendations were reached upon:
- Participating NGOs will come up with a common NGO policy with the help of DEF
- A directory of all NGOs in Sikkim would be created after duly validating their credibility
- Measures would be taken to obtain information on how much CSR funds are being spent by companies operating in Sikkim for projects within the state.
- The possibility of holding a workshop under the aegis of the Commerce and Industries Department would be explored with companies operating within Sikkim and the local NGOs to discuss CSR.
- A Social media group on Facebook or Whatsapp would be created for all the participants who came for today’s workshop and a consensus would be formed on the above issues like the formulation of NGO policy and the creation of an NGO directory.
- The scope and possibility of a Sikkim Network of NGOs was also discussed to contribute to larger development in the State.
- The number of differently abled needs to be ascertained. A request would be made to the Social Welfare Department to conduct a survey. Data already available with the Census and DESM could be used as the base. A meeting with the Secretary Social Welfare Department to be organized with NGOs working in the disability sector so that various issues can be discussed.
A federation of Self Help groups requires to be established so that these organizations can be empowered especially in the use of ICT tools.