“I know you won’t believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others.” ― Socrates
Aspire Circle is a not-for-profit forum focused on promoting enlightened social leadership in India. The forum will achieve this mission through Fellowship and Research. Aspire Circle is a consortium of leaders in the social sector in India who have come together to debate, dialogue, deliberate, and reflect upon the most critical social issues of our time. Aspire Circle will help enhance the spirit of kinship or Fellowship amongst Social Leaders in India and juxtapose the convening with research on social impact measurement. This will ensure personal & professional development in the sector. This forum is the first of its kind in India and is a trust set-up with independent Trustees and Governors. The Forum’s aim is to ensure that social leaders in India have a space where they can discuss their challenges and celebrate success within a group, which will benefit from peer-to-peer learning.
Our aim at Aspire Circle is, however, not to be any of the following: an industry forum or chamber, an advocacy or lobbying group, a grant-making organization, a donor-receiver matchmaker, or even a club. However, we have borrowed our values and missions from those of fellowships, research institutions, and think tanks around the world.
Aspire Circle’s mission is to create 1000 Fellows in 10 years (2014-2024) with shared values, vocabulary, philosophy, and, experiences. We believe that sustained peer-group dialogue in a neutral and trusting environment facilitates honest reflection necessary to encourage new insights and create collaboration necessary for acting on social leadership issues. Moreover, the Fellowship will spark the self-reflection necessary for personal and professional leadership. Leaders or Fellows who will be invited to participate in the Forum are all involved in the Indian Social Sector as CSR & Corporate Foundation Heads, Philanthropists & Family Foundation Heads, Impact Investors, Social Entrepreneurs, NGO & Civil Society Leaders, Government Leaders, Religious & Cultural Institution Heads, Intermediaries & Charities, etc. The Fellowship will require each Fellow to participate in four retreats of two days each during the first year of their Fellowship. These groups of 15-25 Fellows will participate in enriching dialogues (Socratic Method), Case Studies and interact with eminent social leaders. After the first year, the Fellows will “formally” convene in an Aspire Circle Annual Retreat and “informally” find many other ways to collaborate amongst themselves. This includes organizing themselves in cause-specific (e.g., Primary Education, Rural Development or Environment) and Special Interest Groups (SIGs).
In addition to meeting regularly, the Aspire Circle will commission research. This will be done primarily to measure social impact and explore ways of developing tools and indices that will assist social leaders in India. As Fellows of the Aspire Circle, we can also aid other Fellows, who are all accomplished social leaders, to catalyze thought-leadership in the sector. Aspire Circle seeks to collaborate with leading global universities, educational institutes and research facilities in this quest.
In summary, the Aspire Circle charter is as follows:
1. Purpose: Create India’s foremost not-for-profit forum to promote enlightened Social Leadership
a. Develop a fellowship led by social leaders with all stakeholders of the social eco-system
b. Create India’s foremost thought-leadership institution for social leadership
3. Objectives and Initiatives :
a. Develop a Fellowship of Social Leaders in India
i. Launch Socratic Dialogue-based Round Table Forum for Social Leadership
ii. Create annual events for Fellows to interact across Fellowship cohorts and to cement a collective forum (group) identity
b. Create India’ foremost Social Leadership Group
i. Commission quarterly research & white paper on contemporary social leadership issues.
ii. Research & Publish an annual “State of the Social Sector” report, which becomes the de-facto Indian standard for social activity and impact
c. Support fellows projects and programs for greater impact
i. Encourage Special Interest Groups (SIGs), e.g., Education & Skills Development, HealthCare, Environment.
Aspire Circle commenced operations in 2014 after nine months of consultations with leaders across India and owes its creation to its Founding Trustees, Founding Governors and Founding Fellows.