The spirit of Essar stands for hope, change and growth for the people who work with us and the people we work for. Essar firmly believes that a business's footprints ought to bear positive impact in the journey of its sustained presence. The responsibility to extend Essar's outreach towards the genuine development of the people and communities around its facilities and beyond lies with Essar's CSR arm, Essar Foundation. Dedicated teams from Essar Foundation; working in eight states and twelve districts of India, strive relentlessly in evolving relationships with communities, while taking the remoteness of locations, challenging circumstances and adverse local conditions in their stride. Whether it is about delivering healthcare beyond motorable roads in Malkangiri, Odisha, or about making the youth employable in the remote hinterlands of Chhattisgarh, our team is diligently breaking ground to make a difference that is felt.
With a view to integrate the organization's larger vision with its functioning, a long-term strategic plan is drawn in consultation with a number of stakeholder groups, both internal and external. A large part of Essar Foundation's activities are focused on the development of the villages of India. Over the years, Essar has invested significantly in the development of these rural areas, and has strengthened the ability of the people to play a crucial part in the country's growth. The Foundation aims to create a sustainable framework that allows Essar companies to amplify the positive impact it has on the communities it operates in.
Essar Foundation has its footprint firmly rooted on robust partnerships and relationships – with state governments, the local administration, and with community members. This prepares the ground for community ownership and ultimately leads to sustained impact over a period of time.
Essar operates in areas with disadvantaged communities that are distant from the mainstream development process. These areas are low on development indicators and lack essential infrastructure for growth. Essar Foundation undertakes strategic interventions in such areas to raise development indicators with initiatives in health, education, livelihoods, entrepreneurship, community infrastructure and women's empowerment.
The Foundation's initiatives are strategically forward-looking and go beyond the obvious short-term need fulfilment. Essar's activities create a multiplier effect where there is continual impetus on the creation of jobs and wealth throughout the cycle for everyone associated with it, thus creating shared value across the value chain. Everybody in the chain grows in unison with the organization itself.
Essar organically disseminates the spirit of entrepreneurship for significant positive transformation in people's lives. Over the years, Essar has grown in unison with numerous first generation entrepreneurs associated with it. Their fascinating growth as individuals, as well as their businesses, in the face of challenges like poverty, limited education and skills, and social discrimination has inspired several others to set foot towards self-reliance. The cascading impact on their families and communities has been visibly remarkable and inspiring to several others.
Essar Foundation, with its commitment to empowerment of women, has executed a livelihood promotion initiative of Essar Foundation meant to economically and socially empower women in rural Durgapur, West Bengal. The initiative establishes the crucial relation between contemporary edge with the time-honored art of Kantha stitching (Kantha is the traditional hand embroidery art unique to West Bengal). The project linked the Kantha artisans to customers in tier-2 cities across the country. The project helped the artisans upgrade their skills with input from designers from reputed institutes like National Institute of Design, and National Institute of Fashion Technology.
The project is being implemented through an institutional arrangement between all stakeholders – artisans, NGOs, social entrepreneurs – involved in this project. The project ensures that market for the products is guaranteed, and provides the necessary linkages with government, institutions and the customer base, while enabling the women artisans to be independent and manage the entire gamut of the enterprise by themselves. A perfect example of creating sustainable livelihoods for the disadvantaged, this project has successfully created a community of independent women artisans.
Bridging the divide
Essar Foundation also intervenes in promoting livelihoods through skill development, and entrepreneurship promotion by bridging the divide between those who generate opportunities and those seeking opportunities. A need assessment of the youth in Durgapur, West Bengal, revealed the inadequacy of skills in English language and Information Technology (IT) as the major inhibitors. With a view to overcome this, Essar Foundation launched the Ajeevika programme to provide training in soft skills in an environment of interactive learning and mentoring.
The three-month training program is certified by the National Skill Development Council (NSDC), New Delhi. Ajeevika equips close to 200 rural youth annually with relevant employability skills; a good number of whom have chosen the path of entrepreneurship and self-employment.
Engaging with communities
Essar Foundation also runs several initiatives in education and healthcare. The Foundation runs healthcare camps in several remote villages in the country, bringing quality healthcare to people with limited access to medical attention. Essar believes that the children are the future of the country and has invested heavily in schools and other educational initiatives that benefit children in the communities it operates. These initiatives touch the lives of thousands of economically disadvantaged people across the country, helping them become self-sufficient and providing them with an opportunity for a brighter tomorrow.