How Young Indians Are Boosting Skill Development Through Micro Entrepreneurship

Posted by Saket Mani in Entrepreneurship, Inspiration
January 28, 2018

Employment, entrepreneurship and job creation are the buzzwords these days. Everyone, from students to the government, is talking about it. But why is everyone so focused on youth unemployment? Let us first get clarity on the definition of youth unemployment.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “Youth unemployment rate is the number of unemployed 15-24 year-olds expressed as a percentage of the youth labour force. Unemployed people are those who report that they are without work, that they are available for work and that they have taken active steps to find work in the last four weeks.”

The International labour Organization (ILO) World Employment and Social Outlook 2016, Trends for Youth states that there are 71 million (7.1 crore) unemployed youth worldwide and 156 million (15.6 crore) young workers living in poverty. Therefore, youth employment remains a global challenge and a top policy concern. That means that almost 43% of the global youth labour force is still either unemployed or working, yet living in poverty.

India has the largest youth population in the world. Nearly 65% of the population of India is under the age of 35. So, the impact of a declining financial market and the lack of job opportunities has the worst effect in India. Scary, isn’t it? It is not only scary but also a terrible situation because it is impossible to imagine a better India with the youth being unemployed in such huge numbers.

The median age today for India is under 27 years. As a recent Bloomberg News analysis discovered, India is likely to have the world’s largest workforce by 2027, with a billion people aged between 15 and 64. One should get a fair idea why everyone is so focused on promoting youth entrepreneurship to tackle the monstrosity of unemployment in India.

Calling oneself an entrepreneur is the new sexy that has spread like a virus from the Silicon Valley (San Francisco) USA to the Silicon Valley in India – ie, Bangalore. In my teens, I always thought that entrepreneurs were the same as businessmen. Over the years, I realised that they weren’t the same. Due to ignorance, the terms are commonly interchanged. A businessman walks on the defined path, but an entrepreneur believes in making their own path, which becomes a guideline for other businessmen. There is a fine line amidst the two, in the sense that an entrepreneur is always a market leader whereas a businessman is a market player. Entrepreneurship is not an easy feat compare to merely doing business.

In its bid to tackle unemployment and social issues in India, one such initiative is by 1M1B (A Million for A Billion) Foundation, started by the brother – sister duo of Manav Subodh and Dr Swati Subodh. The programme is called 1M1B Startup Gurukool Programme which has recently empowered six young people in its first batch of the fellowship programme and has helped create over 35 micro-entrepreneurs, leading to income enhancement of more than 170 beneficiaries in four states of India.

In the next few months, the number is expected to reach upto 400 micro-entrepreneurs who will help enhance the income of over 5,100 beneficiaries. Sounds amazing and inspiring, does it not? Curious about the eligibility criteria? It is very simple – you need a bachelor’s degree (minimum) and have the willingness and passion to work at the grassroots level, coupled with zeal and innovative thinking.

This six month fellowship programme provides fellows with extensive training, mentoring and support throughout the course to help gain the desired knowledge, skills and mindsets to lead and execute the project in the villages.

Startup Gurukool is unique because it brings global startups to access rural markets. This access and exposure allows them to test their solution on the specific populations in need by appointing village level independent contractors and entrepreneurs. The program trains fellows that help to accelerate indigenous technologies to rural markets and enable social entrepreneurs aligned to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through market access as a service, creation of jobs for people living in the villages and creating self-sustainable enterprises.

This is an innovative fellowship programme, where every project on livelihood – be it career readiness, helping artisans, promoting rural tourism or assisting farmers through technology – directly increases the income by linking with markets, leading to income enhancement.

One of the USPs of this fellowship programme is that one size does not fit all, which means that the mentorship provided changes depending on the region and income opportunity. A snippet of their success story includes lac bangles. Traditional ornaments worn by women in India, covering their wrists are named as Bangles. Lac is a resinous material, secreted by insects, which is collected and molded in hot kilns to make these bangles.

1M1B Startup Gurukool Fellow has been working in Jharkhand to drive micro-entrepreneurship among tribal communities by providing skill training on making lac bangles to young women in rural areas and further providing access to local and online markets. Currently, 25 young women are undergoing intensive training of 15 days on acquiring the required skills.

The 1M1B fellow has been working hard with the team to enhance the income of the beneficiaries by the end of the six month fellowship tenure. Over 100 families will be impacted by end of the fellowship through this intervention. Some of the other incredible projects includes providing market access to the farmers in Uttarakhand, setting up co-innovation lab in Kashmir, agri-marketing and skills training for women empowerment, etc.

For more information, click here.