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 Future Innovation Challenge | India 

Future for Civil Society

Do you want to be part of developing disruptive innovations for civil society?

You have an innovative team?

You have a longterm view and mindset?

You have a passion for the drivers of change?

You are interested in co-creation?

Here's the challenge...

Accelerated by Covid-19 ...
How civil society may change in the 2020s ...
And how might we embrace emerging opportunities for a better world?

7 Drivers of Change (India)

  • Strong 'I'-dentification

    India’s young population is independent and self-reliant. They make their own decisions and are determined to pursue their personal goals and dreams. Through mobile internet and social media, they publicly express their “I” when and wherever they are. They hold strong viewpoints toward many aspects of life, from consumerism, LGBTQ, to climate change.

    With this changing mindset and accelerated by Covid-19, a new era of young leaders is emerging ready to reshape social change in India.

  • Shattered Dreams

    With empty pockets and shattered dreams, many people are currently leaving the cities to return to their home town. This illustrates the disturbing levels of vulnerability of hundreds of million Indians, who grow up with higher expectations and better education, but remain at the mercy of others.


    Equipped with new skills and experiences, many returnees choose to remain in the village after Covid-19. They begin to embrace emerging opportunities in the rural area and are more connected than ever through digital services.

  • Total Traceability

    End to end traceability of goods is changing the way we consume. Tomato or Tshirt: We know who produced it, how much they earn, and what quality standards are followed.

    For everything and always. However, total traceability has a dark side. States and companies are using cameras, face recognition, apps, and artificial intelligence to trace and often control citizens. China is leading here, but 1984 is looming over India too.

    Covid-19 has accelerated these trends. For the good, or against the bad, amplifying citizen voices and promoting alternative approaches may prove critical to remain on a democratic and rights-based trajectory.

  • Universal Basic Income (UBI)

    Simply paying everyone regularly a decent amount of money is a revolution in the way we define social welfare and can lead the way towards a new level in human development. This powerful idea is quickly gaining political momentum in India.

    Covid-19 will push it further. By replacing myriads of costly and messy welfare schemes with a lean and radically transparent UBI, hunger and poverty could become a problem of the past. UBI will create heated controversies and may have profound impacts on the way many CSOs work.

  • Toxic Narrative

    Populism, hate speech, fake news, conspiracy theories, social bots and echo chambers, now everyday language, instrumentalize and amplify toxic narratives. This can cost lives in the real world, for instance for Indian Muslims.

    The battle for narratives is taking over more and more space, and nobody really has the option to disengage anymore, particularly not civil society.

    Covid-19 pushes the boundaries further! Who controls the narrative?

  • Virtual Civil Society

    Hyper-connectivity provides radically new opportunities for the “voiceless” to learn, to connect and to influence democracies in the global south.

    Covid-19 currently accelerates this driver. In the 2020s, the movers and shakers are lean organizations with sound social values, a large outreach, and great virtual platforms. They use participatory media and artificial intelligence to engage citizens that are hungry for change.

    The Oxfams and World Visions better watch out: just like Amazon in retail, tech-driven social organisations and businesses may become the rising stars in Civil Society.

  • Localized Economies 

    Urbanization is an overwhelming trend in India, but rural areas are progressing too, though often unnoticed. Many Indian villages are now connected to the internet, have gas, electricity, piped water, and TV. Better roads mean that nearby cities are mostly within a reach of less than 2 hours. Covid-19 accelerates the connectivity between such rural towns and villages like never before.

    Increasingly, goods and services are sourced locally, event through digital platforms. More investments and new enterprises, developed by returnees from the cities, may well see “Ruralization” a likely development in India.

Download Poster

At CSA we studied the various "Signals" produced by Covid-19. A signal of change is anything that is already happening today. That could be a clue to the future. We analysed these signals to identify at least seven key Drivers that will play an important role in shaping the future of CSO work in India. Drivers are the forces of change that move us towards a particular future. Behind every signal, there is at least one driver. Please find attached a poster that explains the "Seven top most drivers" identified by the CSA team for India.

Click HERE to download the PDF.

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Your benefits are

  • Innovative practices, products or even new organisational models - which make you future-ready

  • Innovations developed by you in a group of like-minded people - facilitated by the innovation team of the CSA

  • Experience the application of user-centric design thinking and forecasting, which will boggle your curious mind

  • Make your innovations a reality - through mentoring & co-creation by, becoming part of our growing innovation community.

04-Aug-2020, 10:00 am IST
4 day online workshop

How it works

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Step 1:


Submit your online application by 20 July, 2020


What is the Future Innovation Challenge?

It is our invitation to you to join us in reimagining the future for civil society after Covid-19. Covid-19 has created uncertainties in our life, work and also affected our future. It has impacted Civil Societies across the globe and in India. At the Civil Society Academy we want to support you in this navigation process, and facilitate your exploration of the unknown so that you can innovate new pathbreaking ways to deal with this new situation.

Why are we taking it up?

We have observed that: - Many CSOs are not prepared for such a crisis and lack resilience - COVID-19 will have a grief impact in many countries in the global south We asked ourselves: What can civil society do to remain relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic? Our answer was to bring the Future Innovation Challenge to life.

Selection Criteria

Selection criteria:

  • You have an innovative team
  • You have a passion for the drivers of change
  • You have a longterm view and mindset
  • You are interested in co-creation

Please note: After applying, you will get a follow-up call from us. Do check your spam folder for our updates and emails.


Innovation at Civil Society Academy

We champion and advocate for a just and equal world, and spend all our time harnessing the superpower abilities of social pioneers, innovators and civil society leaders to fast track radical system transformation. Being a fast-growing social start-up ourselves initiated by Welthungerhilfe in 2014, we know the transformative power of ideas and what it takes to bring them to life. Over the years we have also developed a strong reputation for strengthening and deepening local participative social innovation processes and championing the role of the third sector in radical system transformation discourses.


Joachim Schwarz

Joachim is passionate about social justice and is on a mission to support like-minded civil society actors and social entrepreneurs to become more powerful and innovative. Hence, in 2015 he left his NGO career to build the Civil Society Academy. He is an outstanding facilitator and coach with expertise in social innovation, leadership, organizational change, and advocacy. Joachim has spent more than than 20 years in Africa and Asia.

Subhankar Chatterjee

Subhankar has 19 years of experience working in the development sector. He is in the lead for CSA in India. Prior to joining CSA he had worked with Welthungerhilfe, Tata Trust and PRADAN. Subhankar has extensive experience working with large scale programmes on livelihoods and skills development, food and nutrition security, and social entrepreneurship, and strengthening community institutions in South Asia.

Trang Nguyen

Trang holds a degree in Social Sciences and has worked in different governmental as well as non-governmental organisations in Germany, Vietnam, and India. She joined CSA in 2015, where she overlooks the marketing communication, and facilitates workshops as well as processes. Trang is a creative and forward-thinking person who loves to learn, share, and connect with like-minded people. She is also professionally trained in coaching young ambitious change-makers.

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