Life in Rural West BengalSujit Pramanick is the son of a rice farmer in a Bengali village on the island of Pathar Pratima, West Bengal. Understanding the value of education, his family backed him throughout his high school. Sujit even enrolled himself into a graduation course after high school. But his family could only back him that far. Due to financial constraints, Sujit was forced to drop out of college to support his family. Graduation from high school as his only qualification, Sujit spent two years of his life searching for a job that would help him support his family, only to find none. On careful examination of the problem in the region, you will realize that Sujit is just one of the many affected in West Bengal.
While working in association with Action Aid, Dipak Basu had the opportunity to visit the lush green forests of Sunderbans and realized the real depth of the unemployment problem. “During my fellowship with Reuters, I found out that the biggest problem for these people was their livelihood. So a group of us from IT background decided to start Anudip to teach them IT. We soon added English and job readiness to it making them employable”, explains Dipak Basu, Founder, Anudip.Started in 2006, Anudip is a non-profit social enterprise engaged in creating livelihoods for marginalized men and women either educated or unemployed or dropouts. They help them develop their IT skills and place them in IT companies or help them start their own IT enabled service companies. To make the entire venture more cost effective, Anudip does not invest in infrastructure. Instead, they partner with NGOs who have been working in the rural areas for several years, which helps them in making Anudip more credible as an organisation. 400 computers have been donated by big IT companies that are being used for teaching. “This way we have credibility and save on cost, a win-win situation for us. We only provide trainers to train”, explain Dipak.
Apart from job placements and promotion of entrepreneurship, Anudip also takes up projects for global customers. Their BPO and project centres employ graduates from Anudip's centres. The success of their BPO model has led them to turn it into a commercial venture registered under the name of iMerit.net. Anudip holds 20% equity in the iMerit.net. Over 10,000 people have been benefitted so far by the training program across 52 centres in Eastern India.
Managing Anudip, and the Way Forward
It has not been an easy task finding trainers for their centres especially in rural parts of West Bengal. Yet they have managed to source their trainers through three means. “Many of our trainers are idealistic. It is not the salary or prerequisites that satisfy them. You see a family that was earning below poverty line earning double the money after training one of them. The trainers find that satisfying. We also hire from the region and train them under senior trainers. Our graduates itself, about one-third of them have become trainers”, shares Dipak.
Recognizing the real impact of the work done by Anudip, NASSCOM awarded them with the NASSCOM Social Innovation Honor Award in 2012. “The award has given us authentic credibility and visibility. We have got more donors and investors now. The staff got highly motivated when we got awarded by Kapil Sibal with the entire IT industry as a witness. It has made iMerit credible for foreign customers crossing national boundaries”, exclaims Dipak.
Anudip has made a commitment to NSDC of India to train and place 1 lakh people by the year 2020. On road to achieving that goal, Anudip is working to increase its annual training capacity to 20,000 by 2015. Their expansion plans will be mainly focused in eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya and Bihar with gradual shift from rural to urban markets. With an increasing number of queries coming in from other countries like Ghana, Uganda, Philippines etc, Anudip plans on ultimately impact sourcing their current success to the other countries in the world.
As for Sujit Pramanick, he has graduated from Anudip training program and is employed in a data entry job earning a handsome salary.
Want to know more about Anudip's work? Take a look at Anudip's website.