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Reap Benefit: Bringing ‘all hands on deck’

Anjali Hans

Climate change or climate disaster?’ ‘Is your city sinking?’ ‘Is your city’s air quality poisonous?’ and lakes on fire – television, newspapers and social media tell the same story. We are facing an existential crisis which is, at once, daunting and urgent. 

Surely, these big global problems have to be solved at a large scale. Surely, ice-caps melting and forest fires won’t affect our lives in a different part of the world. After all, what can we do, if anything, to solve these large and complex problems? 

Complex social problems take on different shapes in different contexts. Climate change in Antarctica can be seen in the changing nature of penguin colonies, and in India was felt in the intense heatwave in May 2022. All global problems have local manifestations. Taking a walk around the neighbourhood, we see garbage scattered everywhere, overflowing drains, potholes on roads, foaming lakes and dilapidated buildings. 

Despite this, why are only 1% of citizens actively engaged in changing the status quo? How can we bring ‘all hands on deck’ to solve the problems in our surroundings? Click To Tweet

These questions sowed the seeds of Reap Benefit. Reap Benefit catalyses a cadre of young people, called Solve Ninjas, to champion small solutions in their surroundings. Every small solution sparks a generative cycle of meaningful change – solving local problems and drawing more and more of the community to take action. 

Solve Small, Dent Big = Exponential Change

Reap Benefit started small, but with a big vision. In its early days, the organisation focused on building the capacity of the youth to solve problems through Solve Bootcamps in schools. Although successful in activating the youth to lead change, Reap Benefit realised that a school-to-school model alone could not harness the potential of India’s 808 million young people across a range of contexts to see, sense and solve the issues they face.

To induce exponential impact, Reap Benefit had to unlock scale and speed in distributing the ability to solve among young people. Instead of scaling what works, they had to figure out what works at scale. Click To Tweet

In 2016, with the aim of restoring the agency of every young person to become a problem-solving citizen, Solve Ninja was born. Launched in 2018, Solve Ninja is a Societal Platform that enables users to report issues in their localities, crowdsource local data to build contextual solutions, initiate campaigns and connect with the local government.

Harnessing the principles of Societal Thinking, Reap Benefit activates the civic muscle of these Ninjas to work on local issues by restoring  their agency to discover civic and environmental problems in their community, investigate the problems and collect data around them, solve these problems by innovating solutions and leading campaigns and sharing data and solutions with local stakeholders and government officials. By doing so, Reap Benefit builds the youth’s ability to solve diverse problems rather than adopt solutions that might not fit their unique needs. 

The Journey Ahead

To date, Solve Ninjas have worked on civic issues in their localities, ranging from fixing blackspots, reporting infrastructural issues to their locally elected representatives, campaigning for lake rejuvenation and green cover protection, designing and implementing innovative solutions, creating air quality monitors to even starting their own social enterprises!

To date, Solve Ninjas have collectively saved 53M litres of water and diverted 635,040 kg of waste from landfills, while empowering communities across India. Click To Tweet

Reap Benefit has worked with 50,000+ Solve Ninjas across India and hopes to build a nation led by young leaders who eagerly solve problems at the grassroots level.

Learn more about Societal Thinking here.