The Commons Platform

Democratising technology for those who live on the margins.

The Commons Platform is an attempt to democratise technology for those who live on the margins. Technology has always been a competitive advantage, whether it comes to running one’s business, learning new skills, or just connect to people and information. To that end, Platform Commons Foundation tries to bridge the technology divide by four key capabilities to micro-entrepreneurs:

Ability to efficiently run micro-business at the grassroots

Access to markets

Involving communities towards problem-solving

Integration with social security programs

Open APIs to build your own social inclusion solutions. Don’t reinvent the wheel

The platform exposes its underlying capabilities at Micro-Services, allowing 3rd Parties to rapidly build their own solutions using its readily available and reusable capabilities. It also makes available Open Data APIs, thereby helping set Interoperability Standards. This allows integration with other external platforms, thereby seamlessly incorporating a vast array of capabilities available out there and not having to reinvent the wheel.
A detailed description of the various layers of the platform follows. It goes on to explain that:
  • The base comprises of highly reusable services that are Context Neutral (can be used in any context)
  • The middle comprises of Context-Aware solutions that are custom built keeping the grassroots contexts in mind
  • At the top are highly Context Intensive Apps, that are used in very specific situations to solve specific problems

Layers of the social inclusion platform

Layers of the social inclusion platform

A detailed description of the various layers of the platform follows. It goes on to explain that:
  • The base comprises of highly reusable services that are Context Neutral (can be used in any context)
  • The middle comprises of Context-Aware solutions that are custom built keeping the grassroots contexts in mind
  • At the top are highly Context Intensive Apps, that are used in very specific situations to solve specific problems

Unleashing choices to our stakeholders  

These 3 layers collectively provide the below choices to our stakeholders:
  • NGOs and Small Businesses can reuse the readily available Apps based on their context and strategy
  • Engineers and innovators can build new solutions to solve unsolved problems
  • Governments and Foundations can take proven solutions and scale them via Evangelisation, Resource Mobilisation, and Governance.

The Commons Platform Architecture

We invite you to read about the platform architecture below. It’s like a multi-layered cake. The deeper you dig, the more flavours you get. See the full view of the platform architecture. Below, we explain each layer in detail. Read with patience, and reach out to us should you want to discuss.

Base Platform

This is the base platform on which all solutions are built. The platform is Cloud-based and has 4 main characteristics:

Multi-Tenant: The platform leverages the principles of Multi-tenancy which primarily deals with security, privacy, subscriptions, customizations, metadata, analytics, and billing & metering. Every user uses the system as if they are the only users. Multi-tenancy is the basis for SaaS. Entities/Resources are qualified per tenant.

Multi-Domain: It means that the platform has an ontology, white labeling, domain-mapping, and multi-language. The solutions build on the platform are modular in nature and can be deployed in multiple domains. For example, the current modules of the platform are being used in domains such as Education, Skilling, Waste-management, Agriculture, Handicraft industry and community engagements

Multi-Lingual: The platform has multi-lingual enabled UI & domain labels; reference data and transaction data. For the Platform, Multi-lingual support is the Least common Denominator support since languages and user preferences change from region to region in a diverse nation like ours.

Multi-Channel: The Platform is built with channel intelligence. It is channel aware and does not discriminate. It has tools and automation to Cloud-based apps on any channel. , is further enabled through App models.

Furthermore, the Platform provides Open Data APIs and uses them to establish Interoperability Standards. These standards and APIs are then used to integrate with 3rd Party Platforms such as skilling platforms, payment platforms, financial linkage platforms, and 3rd party marketplaces

Context Neutral Services

Each of these services does one job, and does it well. Each service is like a lego-block. Multiple blocks are assembled to create rich functionalities. Each block has been built keeping in mind the ground realities of grassroots and micro-enterprises. These services can be used in a variety of context, and in that sense, they are context agnostic or context neutral.

Context Aware Constructs

The next layer brings a further consolidation of capabilities. It uses context neutral services to build constructs that are highly relevant and usable in the grassroots development space. These include:

ERP for Micro-Businesses: The ERP gives easy to use functionalities for micro-businesses to run their operations. It includes capabilities for planning, procurements, supply chain management, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, contracting, and the likes.

Community Engagement Platform: We believe that complex problems neither be solved in isolation nor by one party alone. To that end, the community engagement platform helps us involve the broader community towards solving problems collectively. Various stakeholders from rural and urban spaces use this platform to discover problems and solutions, and engage in solutioning to the best of their competencies.

Networked Marketplaces: This gives us the ability to create multiple connected markets. Each independent market is nurtured and governed by an independent Market Maker. The different markets have the ability to communicate with each other sharing opportunities and resources.

Social Security Integrator: This component acts as a digital locker for the various beneficiaries involved, where they can store their transactional data. The same is then used to connect them to social security schemes and programs.

Context Aware Solutions

These are the specific domain focused solutions built on Commons Platform. These include solutions in the space of small farmer agriculture, solid waste management, primary and secondary education, skilling and employment, and volunteering.

Having said that, these are just the first 5 solutions that have been built on the Platform. Many more can be built by using the Context Neutral Services, and Context Aware Constructs. The Platform enables any 3rd Party to build many new solutions based on their respective contexts and needs.

Context Intensive Interactions (Apps)

Now that we have built domain solutions at the Platform level, we need Apps so that users can access the specific capabilities that are relevant to them. This is done through the Application Layer. Purpose built Apps give each user exactly that capability which they need based on their context of operation. A multitude of such apps exist for a variety of users types, and use cases. New Apps are constantly created as and when new innovation happens, or new needs are discovered at the grassroots.

Multi-party Interactions and 

Context Intensive Interaction (sample)

The kind of problems we are trying to solve are chronic problems. Many of them take a long duration of engagement with our target audience. It is a journey for them, and at different stages of their journey, they may require to engage with a different set of stakeholders / organisations. By ensuring that each stakeholder owns their transactions data, the Platform enables that creation of User Journeys that cut across organizations and stakeholders. For example, a farmer may buy compost from another local farmer, but procure goat vaccination services from a para-vet, hire transport services from another local entrepreneur, and choose to use market linkages services from yet another agency.


This ensures that the farmer (in this example), is served by multiple people, each of whom serves the farmer with their respective core-competencies. Additionally, by having a multitude of such service providers on the platform, we enable the farmer to exercise choice. This goes a long way in restoring agency.

The above example was for a farmer, however the same paradigm holds true wherever we have the need to support our beneficiaries in a variety of different ways. A construct like this allows us to have people participate on the Platform based on their respective competencies, and it gives choice to everyone involved.

Have an idea?

Do you have a technology idea that can make our societies even more inclusive? Bring your cool idea to us and together we can make it a reality.