Crafting jewellery, creating confident craftswoman: Abira Creations

IMG-20160326-WA0006

We are at Abira, a business set up by one of our alumni- Priyanka Khandelwal. Abira creates fashion jewellery, but more importantly, creates independent, confident craftswomen. We are received with great enthusiasm by the Abira team- Abiras as Priyanka calls them.

Priyanka, tells us about how she began her enterprise. She was working with Anju Bansal in a jewellery-making business that sourced products from China. Priyanka, wanted to create this high quality jewellery in India by training women from lower economic backgrounds and with no previous experience. This was a big challenge, which she overcame by working together with the women she hired and trained. When Priyanka hires her Abiras, she looks for nothing more than the desire to work hard. The year-long training program builds on inherent skills and channels the women into jewellery-making, quality-control, marketing, accounts etc. But what is unique is how Priyanka develops the women’s personalities by teaching communication skills , teamwork and leadership. This for-profit organisation has the soul of a social enterprise.

The work areas are clean and cheerful. The walls are full of professional shots of the Abiras, modelling the jewellery they have created . They look stunning. The photographs too, are taken by one of them- an Abira training to be a photographer. There are 25 women working with Priyanka today and she plans to grow her business by also training women to be carers for the elderly as well as for children.

Priyanka invites the Abiras to speak. Each is surprisingly articulate and confident. They speak emotionally about how financial independence through jewellery-making is just a part of what they have gained at Abira. They have found a voice, they have found companionship and they have found the ability to live their dreams. We are moved by their heartfelt words. The impact Priyanka’s enterprise is creating is obvious.

I am reminded of the solar engineer grandmothers of the Barefoot college at Tilonia whom we meet during the Yatra. It’s the same joyful spirit and confidence that we see here. No coincidence, as the Barefoot college was a great inspiration to Priyanka when she joined the Jagriti Yatra in 2013 as a Yatri, and again in 2015 as a voluntary organiser – a part of the engine room club ERC.

The Jagriti Yatra, is an intense experiential program that inspires future young entrepreneurs to build India through enterprise. It takes the form of a 15 day pan-India journey of learning and inspiration. Each year at least 40% participants are women and 65 % from tier 3, 4 districts. After the 15 days, we organise mentorship workshops to sustain and build on the Yatra learnings. In March, we organise the Jagriti Sakhi Udyogini – events to promote women-centric enterprise, as well as networking and mentoring among Yatra alumni.

The audience today is mainly composed of Yatra Alumni and interestingly, there are more men than women. An informal discussion begins and I see networking in action. One Yatri recommends the latest NSDC programs to Priyanka. Another suggests mentors for her next horizon- training women for senior- care. Yet another puts her in touch with a potential investor. Many ask questions to understand her financial model and growth strategy and share lessons from their own ventures. All are energised by what Priyanka has created.

The event ends with delicious wada- paav, the Yatri Geet and a feeling of joy. The Yatra spirit is rekindled. I congratulate Priyanka on what she has created and wish her luck. Her response is simple – “ It’s all the effect of the Yatra”. The effort of hundreds of selfless volunteers that make the Yatra, is validated once again. The journey goes on.

Melange of inspiration, enlightenment and empowerment

The eighth edition of Jagriti Yatra is reaching towards its conclusion. However, the eleventh destination for role model visit includes a combination of takeaways for the yatris. Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan, needs no introduction, and Bunker Roy, the individual behind this innovative and successful business model, has been acclaimed as one of the most influential personalities in the world.

Changing the rural world is no easy task. A study on Bunker Roy and Barefoot College reveals how a person of unique vision can transform the lives of thousands in a village. It is indeed an incredible example of how a person’s dream can make people belonging to rural communities self-sufficient and sustainable. Apart from it, the mission of Barefoot College lies in the belief that empowering women opens door to sustainable development, and that makes it exceptional for last 40 years of functioning in this shady area of Rajasthan.

To realise the impact of Barefoot College, one should pay a visit to Tilonia, and that is why yatris find this day as gifted one. They got the opportunity to visit schools, manufacturing units etc in the village apart from interacting with teachers, students, volunteers during the morning session in Tilonia. Afternoon, yatris had an interactive session with Bunker Roy, in which he shared a few gems of inspiration.

Tracing the ancient history in Nalanda

Destination: Rajghir, Bihar

As the seventh location of Jagriti Yatra 2015, the yatris went to Nalanda, which is a perfect location to get the feel of rich ancient history of India.

At this beautiful valley surrounded by rocky mountains and greenery, yatris attended an informative session explaining the aspects of entrepreneurship and the must know points before you start a venture on your own. Gopa Sabharwal, Vice Chancellor of Nalanda University, resided over the function.

However, in the morning session, yatris visited the ruins of Nalanda, one of the oldest Universities in the world, which is now turned to a tourist destination.

To experience rural India, to understand Gram Vikas

Destination 6 : Gram Vikas, Ganjam, Odisha

It is the last day of 2015, and it is the seventh day of Jagriti Yatra. For the yatris, it is the day to visit the village near Berhampur, a city near Bhubaneswar in Odisha.

The goal is to visit Gram Vikas, the brainchild of Joe Madiath, an organisation started almost thirty years old. The founder himself believed in bringing about sustainable improvement in the quality of life and marginalised rural communities in and around Orissa.

Gram Vikas currently serves more than 250000 people in 701 habitations of 21 districts in Orissa. It is a perfect example of how a person’s passion and perseverance can change the life of thousands. On the visit, Joe Madiath was keen on sharing the challenges and opportunities he faced during the ongoing journey with the yatris. It was enlightening and inspiring for the yatris to roam around the village, involve with the school children and enjoy the serenity of Gram Vikas.

Drawing inspiration from Akshayapatra

Destination 5: Akshayapatra, Vizag

Yatris was welcomed by the scorching heat in Vizag on the 6th day, which is the fifth destination of Jagriti Yatra 2015. The tight-packed day started with the visit to Akshayapatra Patra Foundation, the NGO that runs mid day meal programme across India. The story of Akshayapatra inspires anyone, and for the yatris, the visit turned to be enlightening.

Embracing the slogan, ‘No child in India should be deprived of education because of hunger’, Akshayapatra feeds around 1 million school kids every day all over India across the states Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, and Uttar Pradesh.

Eliminating class room hunger, feeding millions of kids by using the modern technology machines, covering 10000 schools per day, the list goes on. The yatris had an amazing opportunity to learn about the role model as well as to visit the kitchens of Akshayapatra and understand the machineries used.

The day had more to its credit as the yatris had an exciting opportunity to visit the Navy Dockyard at Vishakhapatnam post noon. The day ended with another panel discussion on agriculture in which eminent personalities discussed their views.

A day in the life of an Udyam Corp

Being a part of the nation building process is exciting as well as challenging, and at the same time it gives a feel of contentment. That explains why the job of an Udyam Corp attracts passionate individuals who want to use their skill set and professional expertise in building a better nation.

Wondering who is an Udyam Corp? In simple words, Udyam Corps are the ground soldiers in Jagriti Entrepreneurial Network. Their workspace shifts from under a banyan tree in a rural village to lavishly created corporate institutions. They deal with top notch business magnets as well as spend time with struggling rural farmers. They enjoy high professional growth while contributing to nation building on a greater level.

Udyam Corps are those selected employees who work at the grass root level in chosen locations, to promote the enterprise eco system by facilitating the support system for small and medium businesses. They act as connectors between grass root level small and medium business owners to top level managements. Furthermore, they make sure to utilise the wide and diverse network of yatris of Jagriti Yatra in every aspects of business formation and the entrepreneurial journey that follows as well.

A day in the life of an Udyam Corp is never confined to a designated office space. They work and interact with people on locations where Jagriti Entrepreneurial Centre focuses on. Enhancing local collaborations is one of the primary responsibilities of Udyam Corps. The rural folks often lack opportunities to intermingle with people from the outside world and that keeps them in dark. Udyam Corps create opportunities for the villagers to meet with successful individuals, and also to know about the advancements happening around the world in their field of work.

While creating awareness about entrepreneurship, Udyam Corps ensure that they cultivate a strong bonding with the people to help them out in excelling in their field of business. Apart from analysing the business model, they help them in value chain analysis, cost benefit analysis, pricing, etc. In short, they act as a business consultant for the unprivileged people in Middle India, and that is where the analytical excellence and professional exposure of the Udyam Corps matter. The job of Udyam Corp is extended to ensuring that proper support reaches the entrepreneur on terms of funding, technology, resources, etc.

To be an Udyam Corp you need to have a strong passion towards developing Middle India, other than professional experience and academic excellence. Leadership qualities, organisational management, capability to adapt to challenging situations, etc also matters. By boosting the entrepreneurial ecosystem, JEN hopes to meet the goal of enterprise led government.

‘Revolution should be evergreen’

Destination 4: M S Swaminathan Foundation, Chennai

‘The talk over green revolution is ending. Now it is time for evergreen revolution.’ As goes the message from the father of green revolution, M S Swaminathan. The fourth destination of Jagriti Yatra, on its sixth day, was at M S Swaminthan Research Foundation, Chennai, during when the founder himself gave a lecture on agriculture revolution.

His message for the yatris goes as, ‘Jagriti Yatra is a wonderful idea, as you get the glimpse of India, the diversity and pluralism, and the pluralism is the strength of India. Diversity of people, languages, cuisines; we must nurture it, protect it, promote it. Make the best of everyday you have left on the yatra.’

Yatris had a great opportunity to visit the institution dedicated to research on sustainable agriculture and rural development. It was started in 1988 with an aim to accelerate use of modern science for agricultural and rural development for development and dissemination of technology to improve the lives and livelihoods of tribal and rural communities.

Yatris who have selected agriculture as their vertical of interest had an unforgettable day spending on the premises of the research institution. The speech was enlightening as well.

The yatra has crossed over five destinations by now, and the excitement of yatris is not setting down and that makes Jagriti Yatra the journey of life time.

Focus on healthcare on third role model visit

Destination 3: Arvind Eye Care, Madurai

The importance of health care can never be minimised on any conditions and in a developing country like India the government cannot alone meet the health care needs of its people, given its growing population, income status and inadequate infrastructure. That is why entrepreneurial ventures in healthcare sector is really a need of the hour.

Dr. Venkataswamy, founder of Arvind Eye Care, wishes to establish an alternate health care model that could supplement the efforts of the government and also be self supporting. The third destination of Jagriti Yatra 2015 focused on the health care sector, and yatris spent a day analysing and understanding Arvind Eye Care and AuroLab.

Situated in the temple city of Madurai, Arvind Eyecare has become the final word for best eye care treatment for almost four decades now. Aurolab, started in 1991, is a pioneer in the production of high quality ophthalmic consumables at affordable prices to developing countries.

A visit to Arvind eye care and the interaction with the founder made the third role model visit of Jagriti Yatra wonderful and inspiring.

Public transport solution app from our yatripreneur

#meettheyatripreneur –Prashanth Garapati

Prasanth Garapati, an IIIT student, was one among our youngest yatris in Jagriti yatra 2013. It is hardly two years, and he has embarked on an entrepreneurial journey with a wonderful solution provider mobile app for the problems you face in public transport system.

Commut, the ride sharing app, helps customers to book a seat in the 12 seated vehicle or mini-bus, and enjoy the ride at one by fourth of the price they pay while hiring a cab. The mini bus runs on predefined roads and stops at a predefined place which has been selected as per the suggestions from the customers. The running slots as of now are 8 am to 11 am and 6 pm to 9 pm in the evening.

Commut was able to get around 50-60 communters within 2 months of inception, and among which 70% are women. In order to ensure the safety of the commuters, Commut has integrated route tracking system in the app. Moreover, the drivers are appointed after verifying around ten documents along with a background check. The drivers get paid every as per the rides.

Prasanth is joining Jagriti Yatra 2015 as a resource person to motivate youngsters to forget the fear of failure and work towards their goals in life. He says, “The best takeaway for me after completing the Jagriti Yatra is to be the change if you want to change your life. I was deeply moved by the impact created by the role models before twenty or thirty years ago. Moreover, the help from the network of yatris made my journey easier.” He will travel and interact with yatris on the train for four days to give inspiration to yatris.

Isn’t entrepreneurship a spiritual process?

Destination 2: Art of Living, Bangalore

Jagriti Yatra is the journey of awakening, and the awareness leads to set greater goals in life and work passionately towards creating a better world. The second destination of Jagriti Yatra 2015 is Bangalore, which is well acclaimed as the Silicon Valley of India. This year the location was the Art of Living (AOL) centre in Bangalore, which turned out to be an amazing experience for the yatris.

The interactive session with the spiritual guru Shri Shri Ravi Shankar was indeed thought-provoking, and a real motivation for the yatris to lead a life of excellence. With its humble beginning as a small school in a sleepy village in 1981, Art of Living Foundation has now established its presence in 155 countries and empowering millions of people to live a peaceful life. A day on AOL and an interactive session of one hour with Shri Shri Ravi Shankar has made the day memorable for the yatris.

Here is the takeaway from the interactive session with the guru which is a piece of motivation for every passionate youth, “To be in a comfort zone is a sign of old age. What other feels difficult, it is entertainment for the youth.”

The noon session was also reviewed as equally motivating, as it started with a session by N. S. Parthasarathi, CEO of Mindtree. It followed with a panel discussion about Digital India, in which Shradha Sharma, Founder of Yourstory, took the role of moderator. Rahul Yadav, the brain behind Housing.com, was among the panelists, and the yatris listened to the story of his entrepreneurial journey.