Institution building is a strategic option offered by livelihood promoting organisations to impact groups for enhancing their bargaining power, confidence, visibility, and voice, and improving the efficiency of development investments. As an approach, building strong and resilient institutions of the poor is a development imperative in contemporary societies marked by sharp inequalities and sociocultural polarization. While working with poor communities, IGS recognized that collectivizing the poor is like laying the foundation stone for sustainable livelihood promotion. In order to promote large number of sustainable livelihoods, it is necessary that rural producers/ users' associations/ social groups/and other stakeholders come together for better bargaining power at the marketplace. Besides increased market access, promoting producer collectives has led to improved access of the socioeconomically marginalized, to access technical know-how and skills,low-cost inputs and services, and social welfare services and entitlements.
IGS has organized >200 institutions of small and marginal farmers, forest dwellers, water users, and/or women to strengthen natural resource-based livelihoods, non-farm activities or on micro-businesses around agricultural commodities. Different institutional forms (clubs of adolescent girls and youth, co-operatives, Forest Protection Groups, FPOs, SHGs, watershed committees, WUAs, etc.) have been adopted and promoted in different contexts, and these forms in turn, have demanded different levels of engagement on the part of IGS. IGS has also worked with several pre-existing institutions like community-based MFIs (e.g., Aparajita) and Panchayati Raj Institutions (e.g., more recently, as Cluster Facilitation Teams in Madhya Pradesh), building their capacities, enhancing their six-capital base and leveraging stakeholder and schematic linkages for socioeconomic empowerment of their members. In a few cases (e.g., Women Development Corporation in Bihar), IGS has affected a wholescale organisational re-engineering to enable the client institution fulfil its mandate with accountability to its members.
When IGS works with institutions, it aims to strengthen all six pillars:
The specific nature of services delivered under the umbrella of Institutional Development includes institutional (re)design, formation and strengthening of primary and secondary institutions, organizing training on change management, exposure and long term handholding support services, that consciously attempt to evolve certain processes and reinforce a set of procedures for an organization, group of people or society, public and private institutions to interact and transact in a sustainable manner.
For offering IDSS, IGS adopts a strategy abbreviated as OFFER-C which includes organize efforts, consolidate expertise and explore potential, review and formalize the legal status of the groups, establish functional linkages for inputs; output and technical assistance, establish enabling systems, revitalize groups and institutions which have become defunct, and build capacities to equip people within the system with relevant skills and knowledge.