Livelihoods and Entrepreneurship
The Essar Foundation is helping rural communities become self-sufficient and sustainable by providing training in self-employment and supporting entrepreneurship.
The need for skill development programs that address the requirements of a rapidly growing economy is keenly felt in India. About 60 per cent of India’s 1.2 billion people [UNDP livelihoods report] are in the working age group. The nation’s continued economic success requires this huge potential resource to be able to compete in the global workforce over the coming years. It is for this reason that the Indian government, along with large business houses, are gearing up for a ‘skilling revolution’ designed to secure India’s future.
Essar’s goal is to nurture and convert a pool of unskilled urban and rural youth into a valuable resource for the nation. To further this goal, the Essar Foundation helps young people achieve their aspirations by enabling them to acquire skills and encouraging them to start their own enterprises.
The organization funds a range of basic and specialized training in both urban and rural areas. While some of the training is linked to the company’s own business, the majority of trainees find opportunities beyond Essar. In this way, communities linked to Essar are encouraged to become self-sufficient.
The objectives of the program are to:
- Enhance skills and encourage capacity-building
- Enable new income opportunities
- Promote self-employment and support entrepreneurship
- Provide suitable opportunities to empower people to market their products.
ACTIVITIES AND PROJECTS
A look at some of the initiatives undertaken by the Foundation under the Livelihoods and Entrepreneurship program:
Skills Training Project
The project provides provides the following training:
Farm-based skills training:
Agriculture is the principal source of sustenance for rural communities globally. The Foundation enables farmers and their families to acquire skills and knowledge that improve agricultural productivity. It assists farming communities to acquire the technology that will allow them to introduce crops with greater earning potential, thus achieving higher margins.
Non-farm skill training:
The global economy has witnessed a hue shift towards the services sector. In cognizance of this, the company enables young people to make the most of this opportunity by providing skills relevant to the services sector such as tourism, retail and hospitality.
It has established Community Development Centers in rural areas, providing skills related to manufacturing, maintenance and construction activities to young people. The training includes courses on professional grooming, business etiquette and customer relationship management.
Supporting new ventures
Essar promotes entrepreneurship by helping trainees develop the skills needed to establish new enterprises. It promotes networks with micro finance institutions and banks to create a direct relationship between the trainee and the bank. It also helps trainees gain access to seed capital and offers guarantees on behalf of the young people it supports. It also creates business opportunities and introduces entrepreneurs to its companies. This helps them develop business practices in a live environment.
Essar has nurtured more than 500 enterprises across India and in Africa. Essar-supported entrepreneurs have established businesses as contractors in construction, housekeeping and catering services. They have become suppliers of equipment and material and have established manufacturing businesses. Women have started businesses in food products, garment and traditional crafts segments. It also established the Essar Lok Vikas Kendra, a program that enables communities to develop skills that are seeding new enterprises, at Hazira in Gujarat (India). A committed effort to engage and support the locals has made the endeavor a great success.
Natwarbhai Kanjibhai Patel lives in Matafaliya, Hazira (Gujarat). He used to be a modest landowner, owning a scooter which he used to go from door-to-door selling milk. Natwarbhai dreamed of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
In 1994, Essar helped him start his own business by helping with the seed capital he needed. With Essar’s support, Natwarbhai opened a sweet shop called Shyam Dairy. It soon became popular and his business grew significantly. Today, Natwarbhai is the proud owner of a three-wheeled tempo and he employs eight people. His success has, in turn, afforded his his daughters access to quality education.