"Give a man a fish, you have fed him for today," goes the oft-repeated quote. "Teach a man to fish, and you have fed him for a lifetime."
Essar is built on the spirit of entrepreneurship and this is reflected even in the activities of the Essar Foundation, which has nurtured more than 500 enterprises across India and internationally, and initiated a number of sustainable livelihood initiatives. In fact, Essar-supported entrepreneurs have established businesses as contractors in construction, housekeeping and catering services.
Creating opportunitiesAs part of its livelihoods and entrepreneurship program, the Foundation undertakes several initiatives that impart both farm-based and non-farm skill training.
Agriculture is the principal source of sustenance for rural communities. The Foundation enables farmers and their families to acquire skills and knowledge that improve agricultural productivity. It assists farming communities to acquire technology that will allow them to introduce crops with greater earning potential, thus achieving higher margins.
|NURTURING ENTERPRISE: VIDEO GALLERY
|A look at some of the efforts undertaken by Essar to boost livelihoods in rural India:
|Essar inaugurates Keonjhar Industrial Training Centre for youth
|Essar Foundation opens stitching center in Salaya
But the global economy has witnessed a huge shift towards the products and services sector. In cognizance of this, the company enables young people to make the most of this opportunity by providing skills relevant to local needs such as construction, tourism, retail and hospitality.
In August, the Foundation inaugurated the Industrial Training Centre in Keonjhar, Odisha. Here local youth will be given technical training in employment-oriented courses, thus boosting their employability in skilled categories of work and improving their earning potential.
Speaking about the institute, Deepak Arora, Head of CSR-Essar Foundation, said: "We are taking such skill-building as well as skill-enhancing initiatives to make the locals employable and have set up several such institutes in our other project areas. In fact some of them also found jobs in our company."
Another livelihoods training initiative was undertaken in May 2012, when the Foundation collaborated with the district administration of Malkangiri, Odisha, to boost livelihoods in the poor, rural areas of the region. Towards this effort, the Foundation donated 20 brick-making machines to the district administration, which in turn began training local youth to operate these.
Post-training, machines will be installed in the villages; one machine is set to provide employment to 10 people. The idea behind the initiative is to provide employment to trainees by setting up brick-making machines in their village, with the assurance of the bricks being used for the construction of houses for those living below the poverty line under the Government's Indira Awas Yojna program. The program, planned in five phases, aims to accommodate as many as 200 people.
It has also 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.
Taking its involvement one step further, Essar 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 other companies. This helps them develop business practices in a live environment.
Essar-supported entrepreneurs become suppliers of equipment and material, and have established manufacturing businesses. Women have started businesses in food products, garment and traditional crafts segments.
The Essar Foundation funds a range of basic and specialized training in both urban and rural areas that aim to:
Opening up new avenuesOn March 20, 2012, the Essar Foundation launched an initiative to hand-hold members of a stitching center at Salaya in Gujarat by providing technical and life skills training, besides market linkages. The center was set up with the vision of promoting entrepreneurship and empowering the less privileged women of the Wagheri community by providing them skills and creating new business opportunities for them.
About 13 months earlier, the Salaya stitching center began as a small community initiative by the local Wagheri Muslim community 'jamat', to provide skills development to the women, without their having to leave their homes. Essar Foundation identified this interesting proposition to work closely with the women, aiming to not only improve their skill-sets, but also provide an alternative source of income to them.
Similarly, in Hazira in Gujarat, the Essar Lok Vikas Kendra (ELVK) was established to create the infrastructure for engaging the local community in skills development and creating alternate sustainable livelihood. The ELVK provides training in tailoring, besides conducting computer classes, beautician courses, 'rakhi' making, and 'rangoli' template making. The aim is to develop and instSkill entrepreneurial skills among the women. Over the past five years, about 200 women have been associated with the ELVK. Essar Foundation plans to expand the concept to Vadinar, also in Gujarat.
Indeed, the need for skill development programs that address the requirements of a rapidly growing economy is keenly felt in India. According to the UNDP Livelihoods report, about 60 per cent of India's 1.2 billion people is in the working age group.
The nation's continued economic success requires this huge potential resource to be able to compete in the global workplace over the coming years. It is for this reason that the Indian government, along with large business houses such as Essar, are gearing up for a 'skilling revolution' designed to secure India's future.
|The 3E framework
Essar Foundation seeks to positively impact the lives of all who come in contact with the company's operations. The 3E framework is a way of focusing efforts and resources. Within that framework – covering Entrepreneurship, Environment and Education – six long-standing programs exist. They focus on education, health, women's empowerment, livelihood, infrastructure and environment.
|Essar Foundation inaugurates Salaya Stitching Centre
|Honing skills at the Salaya Stitching Centre