How to empower more people in rural India? These organisations show the way

Several startups and organisations have set up skill training centres to deliver vocational training and skilling to help individuals with employment opportunities.

In India, only 4.69 percent of the workforce has formal vocational skills compared to 60 to 90 percent of the workforce in developed countries.

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While the government has initiated several projects to address this gap through its Skill India Mission, there is an urgent need to empower more youngsters to create a robust workforce. This will not only help us meet the needs of the country’s industries but also enable more people to become financially independent.

Today, many startups and organisations have set up skill training centres in rural India to deliver vocational training and help individuals get more employment opportunities.

We bring to you some of these centres that are making a difference in the lives of people.

Also read: Wheels of change: Magic Bus is helping the youth break the cycle of poverty through skills training


Women at Neev being taught to make gift bags, photo frames, diaries and greeting cards.

Neev is giving rural women in Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh, a chance to hone their skills and earn a steady income. The Neev Foundation aims to address poverty and illiteracy, giving the underprivileged individuals an opportunity to lead a better life. Neev gets its funds from the sale of its products at exhibitions and online, and the proceeds from the food they sell at the Happydays School’s canteen.

Its first project taught women to make bags out of newspapers, which were then sold in local stores of Shivpuri. Later, these women were taught how to make gift bags, photo frames, file folders, diaries, and greeting cards. They also learned how to sew clothes and make tablecloths, bed covers, and cushion covers.

At present, Neev is working with 25-30 married and single women from Thakarpura, Nohri, Kathmai and Binega villages in Shivpuri.


FiveSplash employees at Udaipur.

Five Splash is an Udaipur-based IT services company, which was founded in 2009 to help the youth from Tier II and Tier III cities be more employable.

It hires youths to bridge the gap between their education and employability. Apart from that, it also employs widows, single mothers, and young girls and the only earning members of their families. It also hires the physically disabled to give them an independent life. The company has a minimum selection criterion and after selection, hires these individuals and provides them with a generic and project-specific training. They also hire through NGOs associated with the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).

The company was recognised as a “Social Change Agent” by the Asia BPO Summit in 2014.

Also read: How this online handicrafts marketplace is eliminating middlemen to ensure artisans get most of the proceeds from sales

Ajeevika Bureau

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The Ajeevika Bureau is an Udaipur-based NGO providing livelihood opportunities to the underprivileged; especially migrant workers.

It also connects workers with better job opportunities by negotiating with job providers, and ensuring that they are not exploited by contractors. Most importantly, it provides a government certified identity card so that these workers have access to all government schemes and initiatives.

The NGO received the ‘GuideStar India Gold’ in 2018.

Purkal Youth Development Society

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Registered as an NGO in 2003, the Purkal Youth Development Society (PYDS) is a Dehradun-based NGO dedicated to enhancing the lives of underprivileged youth.

It focuses on improving the quality of education for children so that they don’t need skill development in their later years. The NGO is including dance, theatre, yoga, field trips, excursions, adventure activities, etc. so that the students receive a well-rounded education. Vocational training is also provided for graduates. PYDS also offers skill development to tribal women who make a living with handmade quilts, home accessories, tableware, bags, and quilted jackets.

At present, it covers 41 villages in addition to Purkal Village, which lies on the outskirts of Dehradun.


Upskill training people from economically weak backgrounds in the retail and automobile space.

UpSkill was founded in 2014 by Mansi Agarwal and Apar Kasliwal. It provides easy access to employment through vocational training. Besides, the organisation has also been designing innovative training and placement models.

Its mission is to not only provide jobs through skilling but also contribute to an individual’s career.

UpSkill has two primary business verticals. The first one includes training centres that are operated under various government and CSR-funded projects, and a few that run on fee-based training programmes. The second is a SaaS-based platform NODE, which is used by organisations who want to use their CSR fund on skill training, and industries who are looking to hire skilled individuals. NODE captures data at all steps — from education to employment, from recruiting trainees to placement to career advancement.

So far, UpSkill has been able to place 3,400 youth from rural and urban slums into the organised sector. The average salary of the candidates has been Rs 7,800 per month, with the highest being Rs 18,000 per month.

Quantum Career Academy

A tailoring course in progress.

Founded in 2008 by Shipra Bhutani, Quantum Career Academy is based in Jaipur. It aims to help youths in rural areas get employment opportunities with retail stores and MSMEs. Through a three-month course, students are taught English, and are exposed to skills required in the industry. To provide livelihood opportunities to women prisoners, she started training them as beauticians, even teaching some to cook, and make products out of paper and bamboo.

Through her skill centre, she trains women in multiple vocations to help them have a secure future. Since women prisoners are often abandoned by their families, Shipra gives them a head start by selling their handmade products through her ecommerce platform ‘Aashayein, The Jail Shop’.

At present, Shipra has more than 40 skill centres across the country, and runs the Quantum Career Academy in partnership with National Skills Development Corporation (Government of India). She has provided skill training and employment opportunities to more than 20,000 people till date.

Also read: From a small village in Tamil Nadu to the US: how a pottery-making group of women became global sellers