Monika, a Faridabad ITI student in COPA trade, was hoping to secure a government job in 2020. But little did she know how the pandemic would cause upheaval for her career. Job vacancies were at an all-time low and exams were being delayed for one or the other reason. However, every adversity contains, at the same time, a seed of equivalent opportunity.
Monika then, along with her friend and her brother, curated the idea of “SuMoni Clothing”. The idea was to build a business by using the already existent skills of her brother and correct marketing strategies which were apt for the situation induced by the pandemic. Efforts were made to include services that could attract customers in a pandemic situation.
“I look after the stitching work, Sujata looks after the raw materials and my brother looks after the marketing strategies. This is how we have started. Our business idea is to provide free home services to our customers for selecting clothes/designs during the COVID times. We don’t charge for these extra services,” says Monika.
All the more was an entrepreneurial mindset and industry expert mentorship. This was facilitated by the Department of Skill Department and Industrial Training, Government of Haryana, via an Entrepreneurship program conducted with the help of Udhyam Learning Foundation and ProBano.
“Our business, which runs by the name of SuMoni Clothing has been generating varying revenue from 4–18k in the past few months. We are targeting 50k for the coming few months and plan to open a boutique in future,” continues Monika.
A startling indicator of the economic impact of COVID-19 is that unemployment rates reached the highest level. In June 2020, Haryana, Tripura, Kerala, Jharkhand were among the worst-hit states with the highest unemployment rates in the country. While the national unemployment rate currently stands at 11.6%, Haryana’s unemployment rate stands at 35.1% (as of May 28, 2021), one of the highest in the country.
The Department’s Entrepreneurship Program pilot designed a three-pronged approach to enable the students to take off their entrepreneurial adventures: awareness, capacity building and incubation.
Since the program was taking place during a pandemic, most students started their businesses during the pandemic only. They did face issues but were ready to take risks. They also tried looking at the problems which existed in their areas and came up with opportunistic planning to start their businesses.
“I have opened my business, Aarti’s Home Kitchen, with the help of classes that were conducted by Udhyam Learning Foundation and ProBano under the Haryana Entrepreneurship Program. Earlier, there was no bakery in my area. I realised that I could open one following my interest in cooking.
“I think my products have quality and everyone loves them. One special thing is that I do not compromise with the quality even while keeping the prices affordable. I am able to earn 10–15k per month,” says Aarti, a baker and the founder of Aarti’s Home Kitchen.
She is a student of ITI Faridabad, who took part in this program with an aim to formulate a tenable plan for her business. She started her business during the pandemic while analysing the situation in her area and has been successful in the venture.
“My Ladli Free Silayi Centre provides free stitching and sewing training to women who are illiterate or who come from underprivileged backgrounds so that they can learn this skill and become self-employed. I hope that after learning these skills, they open their own businesses and provide employment to others as well.
“My aim is to open such centres in various small villages and train as many women as I can. My target for this year is to train 80–100 women in my centre,” says Neena, a student from ITI Gurgaon who was a part of this program.
She has opened a social enterprise, Ladli Free Silai Centre, which has successfully trained underprivileged women with skills such as sewing and stitching. Through this program, Neena has gained knowledge regarding expanding her initiative and calculating and raising funds.
“It is a proud moment for us. While some students were sharing about their journeys, they introduced themselves as founders/CEOs of such and such companies/enterprises with confidence in their voices. Personally, I couldn’t feel better about this program than by learning how it has impacted so many learners.
“These learners are the diamonds. Entrepreneurship is one means to fight against the problem of unemployment and stagnant growth in services/jobs. Our next target could be to bring 1,000 students to the ratio of each student graduating today,” said Sanjiv Sharma, Joint Director at Department of Skill Development and Industrial Training, at the graduation ceremony of this program.
As an outcome of the pilot program, 21 sustainable businesses, out of which women entrepreneurs run 20, have been established. Moreover, the average per month revenue per business was found to be ₹4010.
It is quite evident from the statistics that the problem of unemployment is surging in Haryana, more prominently after the pandemic. Sanjiv Sharma further pointed out that the pilot program was just a trailer to what was coming.
Looking at the success and learnings of this pilot program, the Department of Skill Development and Industrial Training, Government of Haryana, is starting a new journey of 3 years with its program under the name of Udhyami Haryana, wherein Udhyam Learning Foundation is going to assist the former in the implementation of the program.
The program is one of its kind wherein students from various districts would participate with an aim towards better futures while developing an entrepreneurial mindset. The aim is to nullify the effect of COVID-19 on unemployment and the economy of the country.
Further, similar to the pilot program, the objective is to help students build their startup from scratch, work on it with support from the incubator, which brings mentors, partners, collaborations, investors on board and become entrepreneurs sustainably.