Dalits are members of the so-called untouchable Hindu caste, and are often marginalized in communities where they live. A number of Dalits in India, Pakistan and Nepal have converted to other faiths, including Christianity. They continue to be among the poorest of the poor in many locations where they live, sometimes negatively stereotyped and consigned to collect garbage.
Turning this negative stereotype into an opportunity, potential partners held preliminary meetings to explore grass roots waste collection and recycling enterprises in Dalit areas. The criteria include that the projects must be locally sustainable, part of a broader community development plan, and involve international partners who receive not only a return on their investment, but learn new business innovations from the project itself.
Such projects help struggling minority communities acquire not only economic resources but also social capital that better integrates them within the societies in which they live.
The meetings were multi-disciplinary, including leaders from research, innovation, technology, government and business sectors. For instance, Grim met with Managing Director Hannu Jokinen (pictured above) of the waste management company MOLOK in Nokia, Finland. MOLOK developed an innovative and efficient waste management system that reduces disease, smell and costs, with work throughout the world including in developing countries such as Namibia.
MOLOK is a potential partner for the Foundation’s “waste-to-wealth” project that will eventually include recycling and construction firms, academic research groups and development agencies partnering with local entrepreneurs among Dalit communities.
Grim went on from Finland to Oslo, Norway, where he briefed leading members of Parliament and the foreign secretary on these initiatives. He also met with Per Leif Saxegaard, Chairman of the Business for Peace Foundation. Grim also delivered a keynote talk at the annual meeting of Stefanus Alliance International, a Christian-based human rights organization working for freedom of religion or belief for people of any faith or belief.