This week on our roundup, we feature a discussion on skills development, an enterprise which produces sanitation products for women, an enterprise which focuses on many areas in rural India and the work of two Indian companies in creating a product to store food grains.
Skills development is a topic of much discussion in India because of the lack of skilled labour. The recent ‘Companies Act’ recommends that businesses spend 2% of their profit in enhancing vocational skills.
This is important because many companies do not feel they will get a return on spending money on this because of high staff turnover. But this act should force them into action. There are institutions such as the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) who work with other institutions such as NSDC and the Michael and Susan Dell foundation.
This has inspired the government to start their own STAR scheme with funding of ₹100 crores. This is a welcome move and hopefully more steps are taken in the near future to help alleviate India’s skills problem.
According to research done by AC Nielsen, 70% of women cannot afford sanitary products. This has serious repercussions as adolescent girls miss up to 50 days of school a year and working women lose their daily wages.
However, Aakar Innovations have developed a product which is low cost but most importantly bypasses the female-unfriendly distribution system. They produce the products using raw materials agri-waste such as banana fibre and bamboo. They hope to profit by selling these materials and the machines.
The finished item is sold door-to-door by village saleswomen who also sell other products. They are also sold in women-run grocery stores and beauty parlours.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and an ex-employee at Citibank, Ajay Chaturvedi is the founder of HaRva. This stands for harnessing value and they focus on skill development, BPO, community based farming and microfinance in rural India.
Among the many services in the HaRva portfolio is ‘Harva Suraksha’. This is a savings product backed by Bajaj Allianz which provides micro insurance to people.
HaRva support over 1000 families and the employees make anything from ₹1500 to ₹14,000 based on their contributions towards projects such as farming and student helpdesks. The work done by Chaturvedi has been recognised; the World Economic Forum named him as a Young Global Leader in 2013.
There is a big problem in India regarding the insufficient facilities for the storage of food grains. The huge wastage of food leads to losses of ₹60,000 crores.
Two Indian companies have taken on the challenge of creating storage for these food grains. Panama Agritech and Silobag India use silo bags to store them. These are polythene bags which have three layers. The first two layers make the bag weatherproof and the third keeps out sunlight.
It has proven successful in 32 countries and Madhya Pradesh became the first state in India to try this technique. In addition to MP, private companies in Rajasthan, Punjab and Maharashtra also use them.
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