Empowerment chronicles:  diverse journeys of building agency
December 14, 2023

Empowerment chronicles: diverse journeys of building agency

Dr. Gayathri Swahar and Subhashree Dutta: Social Entrepreneurship, Centre for Social Innovation, The/Nudge Institute

Creating agency for their program participants is one of the key focus areas for many social enterprises working towards livelihood creation. Interestingly, different organizations have been employing a variety of approaches to agency building, and this diversity is both necessary and beneficial. In this article, we will explore the agency-building methods of four distinct social sector organizations that have been part of The/Nudge Accelerator program and discuss how these different approaches cater to the unique needs of their program participants.

Personal agency can be understood as the profound sense of control and influence that individuals experience in their lives. It encompasses their capacity to shape their thoughts and behaviors, as well as their faith in their ability to navigate a wide range of tasks and challenges in life. 

A well-developed sense of agency fosters psychological stability and adaptability, enabling individuals to respond effectively to conflicts and changes. In essence, agency represents an individual's personal power and potential to shape the future.

Bazzani (2002) noted that agency is a nuanced concept, characterized more by a continuum and variance, as proposed by Fuchs (2001), than by a simplistic binary on/off capacity, as suggested by Reich (2002:93). The creation of individual agency is an inherently complex sociological process. Most agency-building methods, whatever their program participant context, align with the “past, present, and future framework”. This approach involves acknowledging the influence (and hence habits) of one's past experiences on their present level of agency, providing input to help them envision possible future trajectories of action, and equipping them with the tools and support needed to implement practical steps in the present, ultimately propelling them toward their projected future.

Individual agency must always be viewed in the context of the social realities and structures that created it, and the structures that currently exist that could hinder or enable the agency. High-constrained contexts/environments are more likely to hinder agency creation and in most cases regress people to a much lower agency status. Constraints by themselves are multifaceted, multidimensional, and dynamic in nature, and individuals may encounter varying degrees of constraint.

Low constraint does not mean privilege

It's crucial to emphasize that low constraints should not be misconstrued as having privilege; rather, they merely signify a degree of social constraints compared to situations characterized by negative social structures. A low constraint is a hygiene factor for the development of individual agency and not necessarily a motivator. For instance, a poor family from a marginalized community that aspires for their child to receive an education and hence upward social mobility can be viewed as a low constraint context within the realm of ‘family support in education’, in stark contrast to families that require an individual to become the primary economic contributor to the family at an earlier stage and hence not encouraging education or communities wherein the individual is barred from formal education.

For organizations working on building agency for program participants hailing from high-constraint environments, the efforts to create agency is substantially higher and resource intensive warranting a multi-faceted approach involving in-person interventions, assisted experiential situations, safe spaces, and a huge hands-on support from the organizations and the peer etc.

Returning to the past-present-future framework, if an initiative in this direction has not been effectively implemented, the relative deprivation arising from the disparity between the current situation and the envisioned future could lead the individual to regress to a state of lower agency than their current level.

Another important aspect to consider is the agency outcomes that various organizations expect from their program participants as a result of their interventions. Bazzani (2022) has classified agency outcomes into three distinct types, each reflecting a different degree of influence on the social context: adaptation, autonomy, and influence. In simple words, we can see this as Survive, Thrive, and Drive. This framework is particularly interesting because it readily lends itself to a hierarchical structure, ranging from adaptation or survival as a relatively low outcome expected to influence or drive the highest level of agency (as depicted in the figure above).

While we discuss survival, thriving, and driving as hierarchically structured agency outcomes, it's crucial not to assume a universal approach wherein creating survival agency inherently demands a less intensive strategy. The level of intensity required is contingent on the prevailing social constraints and the initial agency status, forming pivotal factors in program design. In instances where program participants are from highly constrained environments with minimal agency at the start of the program, building survival agency itself may necessitate a multidimensional and intensive program.

Therefore, when crafting an agency-building program, three critical dimensions must be considered:

  1. Societal constraints influencing the program participants.
  2. The initial agency level of the program participants.
  3. The expected agency outcomes from the program.

By overlaying the dimension of the delta in agency outcome (the difference between the current agency and the expected agency outcome) with the social and environmental constraints of the participants, we gain insights into the requisite intensity and multidimensionality needed for an effective personal agency-building program. This holistic approach ensures that program design aligns with the diverse needs and circumstances of the participants, fostering a more tailored and impactful developmental journey.

The intensity dimensions included in the figure below are indicative and not exhaustive.

The scope of the present paper is not about the efficacy of the agency-building efforts on the participants. Rather, its scope is to explore and comprehend the diverse approaches adopted by organizations while designing their agency-building programs to best meet the needs of their participants. 

The agency creation models of 4 social organizations

An overview of the 4 social organizations

Organization i-saksham Lighthouse Communities Foundation NavGurukul VigyanShaala
Vision Voice and Choice for Every Woman Youth realising their full potential through sustained livelihoods and good citizenship Coding skills and employability for youth from low-income families Women in STEM Education
Program participant need Exploring options of financial contribution Vocational Skills, job support, guidance, and business exploration. Programming related jobs Higher education in STEM
Geography Bihar 4 states and 30 lighthouses 6 states 9 campuses Online
Gender focus Young Women Urban youth from low-income communities Young Women Young Women
Start point of individual agency Very low Low - Medium Low-Medium Medium
Social Structure constraints in the dimension of intervention Medium - High High Medium Low (medium for a select set of participants)
Agency Outcome The typical agency outcome expectation for most cases is to instill in program participants the essential agency to not only survive and thrive in their current environment but also to transcend their circumstances. Interestingly, in all four cases examined, there is a shared anticipation that a fraction of the program participants will emerge as role models and leaders, equipped with the agency to drive transformative changes within their respective contexts. For i-saksham, the goal is to foster community leaders among the program participants. For LCF it would be a well-rounded aspirational leader who can then serve as inspiring role models for others to emulate. Similarly, NavGurukul envisions some of its participants contributing to the upliftment of young girls from underprivileged backgrounds, embodying the spirit of paying it forward. VigyanShaala’s north star would be to create role models of women in STEM through their program.

The agency creation model of i-Saksham

i-Saksham is dedicated to empowering women (voice and choice) in rural Bihar, where traditional gender roles and deeply ingrained social norms have perpetuated a historical imbalance in social status. Despite some progress in reducing issues like child marriage and early pregnancies and a growing emphasis on providing basic education to girls, the overall landscape hasn't substantially improved for women in Bihar. Educational resources often remain disproportionately allocated to male family members.

In such a challenging social context, women grapple with not only limited personal agency but also a lack of self-identity and are distanced from the concept of life-course agency. This situation is characterized by significant constraints.

Although fellowship participants (referred to as edu-leaders) often come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly from a gender perspective, many of them do not face an immediate, pressing need for employment in a short timeframe. This relaxed timeline facilitates the pacing of the agency module, allowing for a more gradual and effective development of their agency with a higher outcome expectation as well.

i-Saksham empowers women in social and economic spheres, fostering inspiring role models who, through life skill development, encourage others to find their voices

Stand-out features of i-Saksham’s agency-building methodology

  • Graduation approach with Longer Duration Fellowship – Fellowship for edu-leaders spans two years, starting with a comprehensive month-long induction program. Following this, participants are placed in schools, where they spend 2.5 hours every day, benefiting from continuous mentoring and support provided by their dedicated Buddy. Furthermore, the fellowship entails full-day fortnightly sessions held at i-Saksham offices. Post fellowship, these edu-leaders become members of the women-leadership cluster at the community level, planned to be federated at the district/state levels in the future. This model adopts a lifelong and generational approach, a vital consideration in the given context. 
  • Capacity building sessions are situational reflection-based discussions  nudging the women to collectively arrive at various ways in which they could have more ‘voice and choice’ - The "Voice and Choice" enabling sessions, grounded in discussions and reflective practices, are a pivotal component of the program. These capacity-building sessions are designed to help the group realize the commonality of their life journeys; reflect around the reasons behind it; identify their aspirations; and ways they can individually and collectively work to realize their aspirations and promote voice and choice for themselves and other women in the community. These sessions typically involve presenting a situation and the edu-leader cohort jointly discussing it to arrive at the best way to exercise ‘voice and choice’. This makes the program very relatable and enhances the practical applicability of the learning in participants' social environments. Additionally, the opportunity to learn from the social negotiation stories of their peers in putting their newfound knowledge into action cultivates a sense of confidence and empowerment. 
  • Non-judgemental experiential agency building – The placement of the edu-leaders in school to work with smaller grade kids is another salient feature of the program. The Edu-leader is made responsible for the learning outcome of the kids in her class and supported to create interesting play-way methods to achieve the goals. Since their first exposure is with smaller kids, it enables them to build confidence in a non-judgemental environment. In this context, it becomes easy for the woman to slowly realize the potential of her ‘voice’. As the Edu-Leaders progress through the program, they have the chance to engage with teachers, principals, parents, and in due course of time, the broader community. This gradual process empowers them to develop their agency, enabling them to build resilience to the ‘voice and choice’ thus created through the fellowship. 
  • Continuous support from the Buddy and peer support spiral - Continuous support within the Buddy and peer network is a dynamic process. Buddies, who are edu-leader graduates themselves, play an active role in observing each Edu-leader in their school environment, generating a comprehensive monthly scorecard. This scorecard is then shared with the Edu-leader, facilitating participative discussions on areas of challenge and the necessary support. Furthermore, the program structure incorporates periodic 'buddy talk' sessions, providing Edu-leaders with dedicated time for support discussions tailored to their unique issues and challenges. These buddy talks primarily focus on the personal growth and well-being of the Edu-leader. This distinct aspect of the model has fostered a robust sense of trust and a strong support network within the cohort. It has also cultivated a deep understanding and appreciation of the context in which each Edu-leader operates. 
  • Strong Technology Component – In addition to their monthly stipend, edu-leaders receive smartphones to enhance their participation in the program. While the program primarily operates in-person, it is fully managed through Moodle, an online learning platform. Furthermore, edu-leaders gain access to online modules designed to enrich their effectiveness in the classroom, such as English phonetics sessions. Edu-leaders can complete these modules at their own pace over the course of a month. These modules, initially aimed at assisting in English language instruction, also serve as a valuable means for edu-leaders to learn while they teach. This approach not only boosts their technological proficiency but also paves the way for them to comfortably adopt various other digital tools, including UPI, online banking, and government benefit applications, at a pace that suits their learning curve.
  • Women-leader Collective - During the fellowship program the edu-leaders connect in their clusters and after the fellowship they become part of the women-leader collective. These collectives would be working towards furthering the voice and choice of women in their communities and also become important spokes in community development. 

The agency creation model of LCF

Lighthouse Communities Foundation (referred to as LCF) fosters workplace competencies and skills in youth to enable social and economic transformation for themselves and their communities. LCF works in 4 states in India through a successful Public Private Partnership (PPP) Model. They cater to urban youth from low-income hourseholds. While the youth come to the lighthouses for skilling requirements for employment, LCF has introduced a compulsory, 100-hour in person foundational skilling curriculum that includes Agency Building, Digital Empowerment and Basic English as a precursor to enrolment into Skilling. This amplifies the impact of the skilling on employment and subsequently on retention in jobs.

LCF's employability-focused skilling intervention operates within an environment where family support for enhanced employment opportunities is generally perceived as presenting low to moderate constraints. However, these circumstances vary, particularly in the context of gender dynamics. This variability becomes even more pronounced for women hailing from very conservative families, where environmental constraints are notably high.

The primary goal of LCF's intervention is to cultivate agency among youth, not only preparing them to navigate the world of work, but also empowering them to make informed decisions about their future.

LCF's program participants are from diverse backgrounds, including disparities in the language spoken, proficiency in the state language, Hindi and English, educational backgrounds, family histories, religious affiliations, career aspirations, etc. The program takes a nuanced approach, considering these unique aspects to ensure its effectiveness in addressing the diverse needs of participants and fostering an inclusive and impactful learning experience.

Youth are being equipped with agency and sustained livelihood opportunities by the Lighthouse Communities Foundation

Stand-out features of Lighthouse Community’s agency-building methodology:

  • Experiential Activity-Based Agency Building - Lighthouse Communities' foundational course in agency building is experiential and a strong program designed to build agency in a diverse cohort. It is a multifaceted program focused on the participants’ personal and social growth. The entire program is activity-based, immersive, and deeply engaging, making it more inclusive despite the diversity of the participants. Participants engage in comprehensive personality development to enhance their self-awareness and emotional intelligence while confidence-building activities empower them to assertively pursue their goals. The program also places a strong emphasis on spoken English and effective communication which is one of the crucial 21st century skills, enabling individuals to articulate their thoughts and ideas with clarity. Additionally, it equips them with the tools to break down barriers, whether they be linguistic, cultural, or systemic, and provides strategies for overcoming setbacks and failures. Social etiquette and leadership skills are cultivated, fostering an understanding of respect and responsibility within the participants. Furthermore, teamwork is emphasized, as participants learn to collaborate, support one another, and enable a positive self-change. This approach to agency building empowers individuals to emerge from the program with a strengthened sense of self-belief and a toolbox of practical skills that enable them to become self-catalysts for their growth.
  • Sustainable Permanent Spaces - Youth, particularly those from vulnerable backgrounds, require access to a secure, uplifting, and inspirational environment where they can invest in self-improvement and unlock their full potential, alongside promoting a sense of belonging and trust. LCF has cultivated this space where youth can access positive vibes, support, and opportunities for personal growth. These locations are also selected based on extensive research of the catchment area, considering factors such as the presence of youth from underserved communities and the accessibility of the location, especially prioritizing ease of access for young women. The space is thoughtfully designed, having ample natural light, cleanliness, and an inspiring ambiance. This not only makes it an ideal environment for program participants but also positions it as a preferred go-to space for the youth to leverage the space for continuous learning beyond the program. Uniformity of the design across Lighthouses makes for equitable appeal for each of these spaces.
  • Diverse and yet relatable peer group - Navigating the foundation course alongside a diverse yet relatable peer group creates a supportive environment and enables them to develop adaptability and sensitivity, essential team skills in the corporate environment. Moreover, the relatability within the peer group, shaped by shared experiences in challenging environments, serves as a wellspring of inspiration. This shared journey allows the participants to draw motivation and encouragement from the collective resilience and determination of their peers. Together, this environment not only enriches the learning process but also cultivates a sense of unity and empowerment among participants. going through the foundation course.
  • Interest-Based Skilling and Employment - Choice is an important component of agency. Rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach, LCF recognizes the importance of catering to individual interests and talents. LCF with its 100+ skilling partners offers many skilling programs, allowing youth to explore and develop skills aligned with their passions. Just having the choice of skilling options in sync with one’s interest is very empowering and creates positive agency. This approach not only enhances engagement but also increases the likelihood of success.

Each of these skilling programs also focuses on fostering specific skills and capabilities that empower youth to adapt effectively to their jobs.

The PPP: The unique synergy between LCF and the Government establishes a trusting environment, crucial for attracting participants but also fostering agency building among program participants. This collaborative effort underscores the significance of a supportive framework in the successful development of individual agency within the program. The PPP also ensures stability to the program and a sense of permanence of the safe spaces thus created. 

The agency creation model of VigyanShaala

VigyanShaala is specifically working on encouraging women in STEM Education, concentrating on higher education and taking on STEM careers.

The program is concentrated on girls in their 2nd year of undergraduate program in the STEM stream with scholarships for girls from underprivileged backgrounds. Kalpana program follows a two-stage funnel approach with a larger enrollment at the incubator level and a smaller committed batch for their accelerator selected from the incubator level.

In terms of the context, there is a medium agency at the start of the program, and they operate among program participants from relatively lower constraint backgrounds. This context makes their agency curriculum adept to an online format, wherein a basic level of interest, awareness, digital capability, etc is a given.

VigyanShaala also runs a STEM intervention program in the Himalayan region called the Rural STEM Champions. This program does not have a gender focus and is catering to all youth from remote rural areas. Here the program is a phygital one with a hands-on community lab acting as the physical space and this is combined with virtual classes. In the context of Rural STEM Champions, especially for women, it could be construed as a high constraint environment and hence the need for face-to-face interventions.

For this article, we will be concentrating on the Kalpana Fellowship Program of VigyanShaala. VigyaShaala's learner agency-building model places a strong emphasis on several key elements. It starts with the establishment of high expectations for learners, supported by the development of their agency. This is reinforced through a combination of master classes featuring role models, persuasive verbal communication at the incubator level, and project-based, hands-on experiences guided by mentors at the accelerator level.

VigyanShaala empowers youth with impactful STEM skills through project-based learning for societal and transformative change

Stand-out features of their agency-building methodology

  • Creation of a positive Pygmalion Effect – The Pygmalion effect (Rosenthal, 1968) is a psychological phenomenon that describes how expectations can modify behavior that is to say positive expectations significantly influence our behavior and performance. This phenomenon is most commonly associated with educational and workplace settings, where teachers and employers often convey their expectations to students and employees. This effect is particularly potent in agency building, especially among students. The initial sessions of the Kalpana program are motivational and set high expectations for the students, and work on instilling confidence in their ability to achieve these goals. With this heightened awareness of higher expectations, students are motivated to modify their behavior. They invest more time in self-improvement, dedicate additional hours to enhancing their core subject knowledge, and commit to improving their reading skills, driven by the belief in their capacity to excel. Continuous assessment through assignments and constructive feedback further enable this.
  • Talks from renowned global scientists – Vigyanshaala’s carefully curated master classes from renowned scientists across the globe from various STEM streams are an integral part of learner agency development. Their curation process takes into account having role models from relatable settings and also making the story of the role model journey more attainable. Gladstone and Cimpian (2021) in their study of role model effectiveness drawn from work in the space (Bandura & Walters, 1963; Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2020) talked about the three important features of role models that help in agency building –
  • Perceived competence of the role model: If Students believe that they can emulate a role model’s performance, it will raise their own personal agency.
  • Perceived similarity (or relatability): Students who perceive the role model to be similar to themselves are more likely to be influenced by the model. This is because sharing a degree of similarity makes the role model’s success more informative about the students’ own chances of succeeding in the future.
  • Perceived Attainability: Students’ self-efficacy should benefit to the extent that they perceive the role model’s success to be attainable. If what the role model has achieved feels out of reach for a student, their self-efficacy in the relevant domain may suffer.
  • Periodic “Ask Me Anything” sessions – This enables students to openly address a range of concerns. The unstructured format of these sessions is another vital element in nurturing learner agency development. 
  • Tools of agency building – During the fellowship, participants are introduced to a variety of tools designed to empower them with essential skills such as self-management, time management, strategic planning, and effective reading techniques, etc. These invaluable tools serve as the foundation upon which the girls can construct a robust framework for enhancing their learning agency.
  • 8 Week hands-on project experience at the accelerator level – Offering students practical, hands-on project experience is another important element in nurturing their confidence and personal agency. The widely recognized 70-20-10 model shows that 70% of developmental progress occurs on the job, stemming from challenging experiences, while 20% is attributed to mentorship and role models, and a mere 10% to formal education. Therefore, the mentor-supported group project enables students to push boundaries and introduces them to stretch assignments which are crucial to personal agency as a student.

The agency creation model of NavGurukul

NavGurukul is dedicated to empowering young women from low-income families by imparting coding skills, enabling them to secure jobs in the flourishing IT sector. Their program is structured as a residential course, and works on self-paced learning, allowing girls to graduate within a flexible timeframe ranging from 6 to 18 months. Embracing a peer-learning-based individual agency model, NavGurukul’s approach fosters independent growth.

Throughout the course, participants engage in a demanding daily schedule. Mornings kick off with an intensive coding session, followed by spoken English lessons. Afternoon sessions resume with another coding segment, interspersed with recreation and additional coding. Each module is carefully designed for self-paced learning, with mentors serving as guides rather than mere hand-holders.

It is essential to consider the context of the program participants, who initially exhibit low agency. However, in terms of the constraints from the environments, they could be classified as operating from a space of low constraints. Lower constraint basically because there is family and environment support to the intervention and the outcome of the intervention which is employment in the IT sector.

NavGurukul selects candidates from low-income backgrounds who have completed 10th grade based on their performance in a basic test assessing their math, logic, and language skills. The chosen individuals are then enrolled in the residential program.

At the core of NavGurukul’s program is aimed at cultivating learner agency. Learner agency refers to the feeling of ownership and control that learners have over their own learning. When students perceive their actions as impactful, they gain confidence, engagement, and effectiveness as learners. The program operates on the fundamental assumption that every participant has the potential to develop their agency, and this growth is fostered through dedicated mentorship and a supportive community.

NavGurukul is dedicated to providing affordable technology education to underprivileged girls in India

Stand-out features of their agency-building methodology

  • Residential Program - Creating a dedicated space and time for learning – In India, societal expectations often burden girls, particularly in lower-income families where the eldest daughter commonly shoulders childcare responsibilities along with household chores. Despite parental support for their daughters' education, external pressure from relatives discourages investment in their schooling, advocating instead for directing funds towards marriage. Additionally, educating a girl is sometimes undervalued as it is perceived that her income would benefit her husband's family. These persistent societal pressures make it challenging for girls to allocate time, mind space and energy to focused learning. In this challenging context, a comprehensive residential program becomes a sanctuary, liberating them from external pressures and allowing undistracted focus on learning.
  • Focused Personal Leadership Development – NavGurukul campuses are entirely run by students with some support from mentors who are usually alumni of NavGurukul. The students assume responsibility for all campus activities, including cooking, campus maintenance, recreational games, festivals and celebrations, etc. This hands-on engagement fosters the crucial quality of self-reliance. While these responsibilities may initially seem like chores, they empower students to take leadership roles, plan collaboratively, and work as a cohesive team. This not only encourages healthy competition for personal improvement but also provides an opportunity to learn from their peers.
  • Self-paced Learning – Central to NavGurukul’s program is the invaluable element of self-paced learning. What sets this approach apart is the empowering freedom for each participant to dictate their pace of progress. Unlike traditional models, there is no compulsion to advance to the next level until a thorough mastery of the preceding concepts is achieved. This deliberate focus on self-pacing is a catalyst for good comprehension, which is a requirement in coding. This learner-centric philosophy not only promotes mastery but also cultivates a strong sense of responsibility and commitment. Participants recognize that their progress is in their hands, creating a powerful sense of agency.
  • Comprehensive Mentorship for Enhanced Comprehension - In every coding session, a dedicated mentor is readily available to provide personalized support, ensuring each participant grasps the intricacies of the material. This one-on-one guidance is instrumental in addressing individual queries, clarifying concepts, and fostering a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
  • Collaborative learning - Furthermore, the program champions a collaborative learning environment through a robust peer-learning structure. Participants actively engage with and support each other throughout their learning journey. This dynamic exchange of knowledge not only reinforces camaraderie but also harnesses the collective intelligence of the group, creating a synergistic atmosphere where each participant contributes to the shared growth and success of their peers. The combined mentorship and peer-learning approach form a powerful support system.
  • Daily Spoken English Course – There is a strategic emphasis on fostering essential 21st-century employability skills, with a dedicated focus on daily Spoken English courses. The daily Spoken English course serves as a dynamic platform for participants to enhance their verbal communication skills. The classes not only focus on theoretical knowledge but also incorporate practical exercises, enabling participants to apply their newfound linguistic skills in real-world scenarios. Moreover, the linguistic diversity among participants adds a unique dimension to the Spoken English sessions, enabling them to practice speaking English in a non-judgmental space. This not only enhances their language proficiency but also fosters a sense of inclusivity and collaboration.
  • Interaction with successful alumni of NavGurukul – Engaging with successful alumni of NavGurukul provides a transformative and inspiring experience for the participants. These interactions make achievements relatable and, more importantly, achievable. This direct connection with those who have navigated similar paths not only offers valuable insights but also instills a sense of confidence and aspiration in the participants. The stories of triumphs, challenges, and growth create a tangible bridge between the present learning environment and the future that awaits them, motivating the participants to strive for excellence and realize their full potential. 

Conclusion and way forward

Models of agency building are effective when customized for each program intervention, taking into careful consideration their current level of agency, the situational constraints they face, and the desired outcomes of agency.

Analyzing the four case studies shows that an in-person intervention in a safe (physical) space proves crucial for fostering agency in cases where participants are from high constrained environments. Interestingly a phygital model is being adopted in all cases given that in the 21st century, technology by itself is an important component of agency. On the other hand, a comprehensive online model is better suited for nurturing learners' agency for example wherein  the participants are from low-constraint  environments with medium agency.  

While we have used the aforementioned three dimensions as a framework for this current article, it is important to have focused research efforts that will uncover these dimensions further, thereby enriching our understanding of the personal agency creation. Furthermore, it is also important to continue studying the different models of agency building adopted for different target groups from different environments to help theorize and develop more scientific literature to better inform social sector organizations designing agency models for their program participants, specifically for the underserved, underprivileged, and marginalized.

As we have observed through our explorations, organizations have uniquely tailored their programs to best align with their specific impact interventions. There is huge value in creating an extensive repository of agency-building methods. This repository would serve as a valuable resource from which individuals and organizations could draw inspiration, and adapt, or modify strategies to suit the contextual needs of their program participants. It would also facilitate the exchange of knowledge when designing programs, providing insights into the varying contexts and the efficacy of specific tools in the context.

Additionally, it is equally important to study the methodologies that have been implemented in various contexts but have failed to yield the anticipated outcomes in agency development. Such analysis can offer valuable insights into areas where improvements and adjustments are needed for more effective impact.

The Social Entrepreneurship Team at The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation is dedicated to exploring and understanding the different initiatives at building agency undertaken by various social sector organizations. If you have any unique learnings or have created innovative approaches,  we invite you to share them with us. Please send an email to socent@thenudge.org, and we will be in touch with you.


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