From a dhaba that works as an employment exchange to a student tapping the peer teaching model, a re-look at the Monday Motivation series that encouraged and inspired us this year.
Difficult roads, they say, often lead to beautiful destinations. There may be multiple challenges, but one thing binds India’s change-makers together - they view problems as means for innovation. From tackling unemployment to becoming financially independent and providing livelihoods to others at a time of personal tragedy, YourStory brings you stories of social impact through the Monday Motivation series.
As we draw closer towards the end of 2018, here are some of our top picks from the year.
Recognising the vulnerabilities of migrants who move from rural areas to urban India, Vinod Pandey started a “tea stall” with a difference - Rozgar Dhaba, at Shehore district’s Nashrullaganj block in Madhya Pradesh. The dhaba not only sells tea and refreshments, but acts as a centre for the exchange of information on livelihood and employment opportunities.
“I am from Bihar and have seen how people from Bihar migrate to different cities in search of jobs, especially for daily wage labour. An elder cousin migrated to Punjab and died because he did not get proper work in the city; he lived in slums, without proper healthcare. The city failed him,” Vinod says.
Started in January 2018, Rozgar Dhaba caters to over a 1,000 people a month and has hosted over 20 job fairs, and five farm produce sale displays till date. It has over 70 registered entities such as government agencies, skill centres, NGOs, district agriculture centres, grameen centres, and small local businesses that provide regular job information. The dhaba itself provides employment to almost 10 people and has revenue of Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000.
At a time when rote learning and academic-based examination continue to dominate the Indian school system, a 21-year-old student from IIT-Madras is on a mission to change the way knowledge is imparted. Using the peer teaching model, which has Harvard University’s stamp of approval, Divanshu Kumar hopes to improve the learning ability of students through his startup, Involve.
“Most of the world believes that we can improve the quality of learning and have better results by putting more qualified teachers in the classrooms. And while this is true, it fails to address one very important need: capability building of students,” he says.
Involve’s peer teaching method involves a nine-month fellowship where students from higher grades, like from Class 8, can teach and mentor juniors. By getting students who can teach and learners together in a classroom, Involve aims to create a school ecosystem that defines a student’s potential not merely in terms of examinations, but through overall academic and personal excellence.
Till date, the team has worked with over 400 students across four schools in Chennai and Bengaluru. These include more than 100 student leaders.
To introduce food processing techniques and create links in the agri-business model, Balaji Balaraman, 35, started Agribolo. The startup aims to create a market linkage opportunity that can become a farm-to-fork, farm-to-mill, and farm-to-warehouse model for farmers and the ecosystem at large.
“The primary necessities include creating multiple pre-processing or primary centres at the farm or village level. That will provide a basic value addition to farmers and an opportunity to develop a cluster-based model,” Balaji says.
The farmer engagement platform allows an individual to get an umbrella of services under one roof at his location and according to the season, relevance, demand, supply, and in a timely and efficient manner. Agribolo engages and connects farmers with experts, NGOs, and development institutes for training, capacity building, and outreach programmes.
The startup offers a platform to aggregate services in the form of farm mechanisation, plant nursery, protected cultivation, seed production, input demonstration, collateral management, financial inclusion, and local processing that could be co-owned and operated by the community at large.
The farmer is also provided an opportunity to partner with a business solution - available on the platform - that empowers him towards rural employment and social empowerment.
Josephine Arokiya Mary, a National Award winner for apiculture, started her journey with 10 bee boxes. She now has 7,000 bee boxes, and has helped create more than 1,800 entrepreneurs in her district.
In 2010, a year after her daughter’s death, Mary took a loan of Rs 10 lakh from Canara Bank to start Vibis Natural Bee Farming with 1,000 bee boxes. Targeting diabetic patients, she accumulated and harvested jamun honey, which gave her good revenues; soon, Mary started harvesting honey from more than 10 varieties of bees. Apart from selling honey, she diversified her business by selling bee wax candles and the pollen bees carry on their legs.
Mary is now known as Queen Bee in her village and sells honey to 23 districts in Tamil Nadu. She offers 25 varieties of honey with flavours like jamun, neem, and amla among others, through her enterprise. She now earns more than Rs 1 lakh per month, and her venture has an annual turnover of Rs 3 crore.
Besides providing employment to over 50 people and helping over 400 women set up honey bee farms, she is training more than 50,000 people in bee harvesting under the National Honey Mission and creating awareness to save bees from going extinct.
Prem Singh’s lush green farmland paints a vivid picture of sustainable farming: organic produce and homegrown compost, fruit-bearing trees, livestock shelter with water bodies, well-nourished soil, natural fertilisers, and, most importantly, a continuous source of income.
“I too was captured in the cycle of debt and crop failure; we couldn't control climatic conditions and bank loans kept increasing. And then I started thinking about our ancestors, our traditional farming methods, and knew that this was the key to success. Today, I am debt-free. I am a pragatisheel kisaan,” he says proudly.
Advocating Avartansheel Kheti, or periodic proportionate farming, Prem Singh believes that farming has to be a self-sustaining occupation for the farmer. The practice encourages a farmer to divide his land into three parts: one-third to be used as a garden to grow fruits and crops, the second part for rearing livestock, and the third to grow timber. His approach advocates crop rotation, organic farming, animal husbandry, food processing, improving soil fertility, and seed development.
This farming method is currently followed by 28 percent farmers in his district and also has followers from the agrarian community of Belgium and France.