Editorial Team

With an exponentially growing start-up ecosystem and influx of local businesses, India, at present, is conducive to entrepreneurs who are skilled and readily adaptive.

Mumbai-based NGO Salaam Bombay Foundation (SBF), that has already imparted vocational skill building and market orientation to over 23,500 resource-challenged adolescents under its skills@school programme in the past seven years, is all geared-up to provide a platform for these skill-trained young Turks to think and act as entrepreneurs under its ‘Entrepreneurship Incubator for Grassroot Adolescents’ programme.

The initiative was launched on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day in the presence of Chintan Bakshi, Partner-Incubation at CIIE.CO, IIM-A (Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad), Harshal Shah, CEO AIC-NMIMS Incubation Centre, Sobins Kuriakose, Head, State Government & Citizen Engagement (South) at National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), Sijo Varghese, Manager- Innovation & Start-up, MSInS, Department of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of Maharashtra, Preeti Telang, Former CEO, Swadhaar FinAccess, currently Consultant to Suryoday Foundation, CSR to Suryoday Small Finance Bank.

During the public and formal dialogue initiated by SBF, the domain experts laid stress on the need for an organized and cohesive approach towards promoting entrepreneurship at the grassroot level. This would include most importantly mentoring on all aspects of entrepreneurship – Business Plan Development, Financial Aid, The Legal Framework and Marketing amongst others. The panel discussion was preceded by two master classes – Digital Marketing session by Rajvi Malbari, Product Programming Manger, MX Player and a session on Microfinance was conducted by Dhanashri Rane, Industry Expert, Financial Services.

The panelists vouched that through this programme the skilled adolescents can play a vital role in economic participation that could subsequently fuel India’s Human Development Index (HDI) value.

Talking about the initiative, Mr. Chintan Bhakshi, Partner-Incubation at CIIE.CO, IIM-A said, “Grassroots entrepreneurs by definition are entrepreneurs who face problems living in resource constraint contexts and rather than suffer the problem, solve these problems through innovations, some of which can potentially scale to become formal businesses and thus solve problems for other such people. It is our belief that the next wave of entrepreneurial growth will come from such entrepreneurs as Startups ecosystems, learnings, knowledge, tools and techniques become available to the larger sections of society”.

SBF has provided vocational skills training and internship through its skills@school initiative in areas such as Beauty & Wellness, Home Appliance Repair, Fashion Design, Mobile Repair, Computer Hardware Repair, Robotics and Jewellery Design. Alumni of the skills@school programme form a talent pool of skilled adolescents who go through SBF’s DreamLab initiative and are placed as paid interns with corporates aligned to their skills. This incubator programme, targets to provide entrepreneurial guidance to 100 such vocationally skilled alumni. It will bring together industry experts, policy makers and domain specialists. The students will thus, get an opportunity to gather first-hand knowledge from seasoned industry stalwarts and support on the basis of their talent.

Gaurav Arora, VP- Projects, Salaam Bombay Foundation, said, “We wish to build a whole new generation of Grassroot Entrepreneurs and in the current context of a negative GDP growth, it is imperative that we create a favorable and supportive environment that helps grassroots entrepreneurs flourish and succeed. ‘The Entrepreneurship Incubator for Grassroot Adolescents’ is the first step towards this dream.”

Talking about how she got benefitted from SBF’s entrepreneurship initiative, Divya Periyasamy Acharya, a 17-year-old alumnus from the Skills@school Beauty and Wellness Programme, said, “I was part of a small group of students who had the opportunity to learn about Digital Marketing in an introductory entrepreneurship course at Salaam Bombay. I made a banner advertising my services and created my own Google Business and WhatsApp Business account. I designed my visiting card using Canva and an immediate increase in the number of enquiries for my services was witnessed. I hope to learn much more and fulfill my dream of owning my own beauty parlor one day.”

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