Odisha is known for its rich mineral resources, forest reserves and agricultural production. Nabarangpur is the largest corn producer in Asia. Dhenkenal and Angul produce large mango crops; and Kandhmal produces high quality turmeric. However, the lack of local processing units means that there is no value added at the next level of the production chain and that the majority of these natural resources are either underutilized or underused when sold to middlemen.
The irony is that 60 percent of the population depends on agriculture for a living, while the sector’s share of gross domestic product was only 19.9 percent in 2019-2020. The service sector made the largest contribution with 40.51 percent. However, a study by Ernst & Young commissioned by the state government showed an increase Demand-supply gap for skilled jobs 4,014,585 by 2026, particularly in the banking, financial services and insurance sectors; Tourism, travel, hospitality and commerce; Education and skills development; Health care; and IT & ITES services. With the working-age population (15-59 years) estimated to grow to 30.4 million by 2021, job creation will be a significant challenge.
It is this void that the Atal Atmanirbhar Sahayak Foundation (AASK) – A Swabalambee Foundation initiative is trying to fill.
The Swabalambee Foundation is building entrepreneurship in Odisha to create more employment opportunities in the state
Shishir Sahoo, Founder and CEO of the Swabalambee Foundation, says“I have had the opportunity to visit all 314 blocks in Odisha and the condition is very precarious. The young people in the village are desperate for work but cannot find anything because they have neither the education nor the skills. “
Troubled by the situation, he says that he has decided to come up with a solution that eEmployers and industries across Odisha to employ local youth, This will create much-needed jobs and improve the economic situation of the most marginalized communities in the state.
Growth from the ground up
With the AASK platform, Sahoo and the Swabalambee Foundation team want to play a catalytic role in the creation of India / Odisha Atmanirbhar (self-reliance). AASK will develop a multi-phase prototype to achieve this goal. In the first phase, an awareness campaign is carried out to familiarize young people with opportunities for independence and skills development. You will then receive specially curated entrepreneurship and skills development training through teaching in the classroom and, most importantly, through training in the workplace. AASK will also mentor the trainees and help them start their own entrepreneurial journeys with advice and access to financial institutions.
“The AASK model will take two to three years from the start to be implemented in all districts of Odisha. We’re even looking for a franchise model to spread across the country. We hope to reach 10,000 adolescents over the next 10 years through this unique incubation program. We also plan to ensure that at least half of our beneficiaries are women, ”says Sahoo.
The AASK model will have a three-pronged approach – technology, teamwork and time (TTT). The curriculum for the training spans 90 days and focuses on reading and writing English, finance and accounting management, digital communication, and behavioral research. The trainees also gain detailed insights into various facets of entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on rural businesses. They are made too Knowledge of various programs under Atmanirbhar Bharat, private programs, public-private partnerships, establishment of micro and small businessesand have interactions with key stakeholders. The 90-day course includes 60 days of instruction and 15 days of field visits in phases.
“While the first teaching medium will be Odia, all course materials will be bilingual. AASK will develop seven manuals in Odia that cover all seven course modules and the 32 subjects below. In Odia there will be lesson plans to give the trainer, the moderator and the trainee more clarity, ”says Sahoo.
He adds that the Field visits will be a crucial aspect as theoretical lessons becomes less effective if not supported by practical exposure.
The driving force
The seven-person team behind the foundation has years of experience in a variety of areas. “We are also developing the program in consultation with mentors from various areas. Among them is Dr. Yogesh Powar of the School of Inspirational Leadership in Pune, who helped create this curriculum. We also have the support and recognition from Startup India and Startup Odisha, ”says Sahoo.
Sahoo hopes to bring in impact funders, companies, or investors who can offer seed capital to encourage these budding entrepreneurs. “The cost of training a budding entrepreneur is around 1.5 billion rupees. Banks can provide start-up capital such as education loans. We are also currently in talks with NFBCs and other government organizations to encourage this, ”he adds.
Sahoo says promoting entrepreneurship not only creates employment, but also helps grassroots people in various sectors such as agriculture and handicrafts.
“Today the young people in Odisha are no longer visible in the villages because they have all gone to look for work outside. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit them all hard. Entrepreneurship is the only way we can make it self-sufficient. This program is unique and will help us tackle unemployment across the country. And that’s my main vision for this program, ”he says.
Further information on the AASK program can be found here.