XVI National Convention on Entrepreneurship and Skill Development by Fair Trade India (FTF-I) – A Report

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Day – 2

Session -1: Building scalable and sustainable skill development models at the grassroots level- working hand-in-hand with government and corporates

Dr. Gayathri Vasudevan, CEO, LabourNet, began her interactive presentation by informing the audience about how LabourNet has been able evolve a successful business model by working closely with the government and corporate sectors.

gayathri-vasudevan-ftf-i-labournetDr. Gayathri explained how skill development and industry-integrated training provides better scope for sustainable models of livelihood with monthly wages, safety and social security. She provided examples from the construction, manufacturing and many industries in the MSME sector have tremendous scope for formalizing of informal knowledge and skills through RPL initiatives. She also spoke about the relevance and value of short-term vocational training for livelihood enablement, better productivity and scalability.

  • With an example from Apparel industry, she explained the need to productize the process and apply principles from manufacturing helps in connecting with markets and continuously deal with them
  • She briefed the audience about various initiatives from Government of India like PMKVY and RPL that can help the weavers and artisans working in the handloom and handicraft sector

Session -2: The interactive session was followed by a Keynote Session that had five speakers: Mr. Mazhar Hussain, COVA, Prof. Ramana, XIMB, Ms. Sreerekha Madivala : Myroots.desi, Mr. Jaikant Singh, NSDC and Mr Chitra K C, WFTO – Asia. The session was chaired by Mr. Mallikarjun Iytha.

Reclaiming economy for the people: through 3 paradigm shifts : Mr Mazhar Hussain, COVA – keynote speech on the relevance of fair trade practices

mazhar-hussain-covaCOVA has been working towards peace in south Asia, communal harmony and now got into economic empowerment and promotion of justice. Mr. Mazhar quoted a study at the BRICS summit that has concluded that the present economy is not for the people and it is designed for corporates and businesses He stressed on the need for reclaiming the economy since people don’t figure in thinking or making decisions. Voicing his preference for entrepreneurship, she said that skills are important for employment but entrepreneurship needs to be promoted. For this, we need a paradigm shift at the levels of mind set. This includes:

  1. We need to move towards an entrepreneurship economy (we’ve economy of job seekers now)
  2. Banks should make lending to the poor profitable
  3. We need to facilitate global access to the small entrepreneurs

Hence, unemployed should be oriented to become self-employed and they should be trained through online courses on entrepreneurship Registration of business should be made compulsory for access to credit. Government can be a facilitator in achieving these goals.

Prof ramana-ximbProf. Ramana, from XIMB informed the audience about various technology led initiatives for ensuring knowledge transfer, transparency of processes and accountability. He was referring to the large number of vendors on streets (Business on Street – BOS) and how they can be empowered for sustaining their business. People who are already into business, have been using different skills and they need further empowerment. Those at the bottom of the pyramid will not have time for attending formal training and hence skilling should happen at their doorstep. He presented the School for Business on Streets (S-BOS) model that offers 3 solutions:

  • Vendor Lite is a mobile app that uses ‘copyleft’ principles and can be downloaded from Google Play Store. It teaches the vendors about the inflow and outflow of cash and captures transactions with complete data security and options to convert to cloud.
  • org is a website that aggregates information about street vendors and it has the potential to become the most popular portal for 2,20,0000 street vendors in India
  • The third solution is a yet-to-be launched Virtual Knowledge Center for empowering the vendors with knowledge and skills.

These solutions address specific needs of vendors that could not be achieved through conventional training and uses technology based decentralized skill training

sreerekha-myroots-desiMs. Sreerekha Madivala : Myroots.desi . Ms Sreerekha provided an overview of the portal along with the benefits. As a dedicated e-commerce portal for Fair Trade products MyRoots.desi aims to connect Indians with their roots. Ms Sreerekha said that the portal will create an avenue for the people at the grassroots with global market. It will reduce clutter by offering unique Indian products that have a story to tell and create a curated hub that follows the trends, demands and use social media for brand awareness. It will help producers with marketing and co-invest in the product (business model)

Mr. Sanjay from MyRoots.desi described the technology support for the portal and informed the audience about the advantages of e-commerce and the opportunities if offers for scaling and sustaining business. 

jaikant-singh-nsdcMr. Jaikant Singh, NSDC: He began the presentation by describing the need for creating an inclusive skilling ecosystem in India and how FTF-I can play a major role in this endeavor. He informed the audience about the scope for partnership with NSDC for scaling up various small initiatives. He spoke about how the government is directing all the efforts for inclusive growth through skill development and entrepreneurship.

He informed the audience about the need to change the thought process in employment options and implementation and execution is a big challenge in skill development. Even though self-employment is considered as good as placement, he felt that there’s no standard way of measuring the impact of self-employment. His proposition to the FTF-I members had the following points:

  • FTF- I is the right match for skilling and entrepreneurship training as it covers 5.4% of the target segment.
  • NSDC could consider providing micro finance facility – at 4% interest for FTF-I or the traders can even get accredited by creating new Qualification Packs (QPs) and National Occupational Standards (NOS)
  • There is a need for sociocultural changes to make skilling aspirational and NSDC is open for innovative interventions and not just for funds
  • The FTF-I members can work together with existing training partners, work directly with NSDC or form an umbrella body to work with NSDC
  • Bring unorganized sector together, they provide 95% jobs are created in this sector Yoga, naturopathy, are some areas where FTF can work act local think global

Mr Chitra K C, WFTO, informed the audience about the Guarantee System and shared many details about it. The Guarantee System was adopted in 2015 in Rio and it has some key objectives. It justifies to customers and markets about the genuine Fair Traders, while certifying the members compliance with 10 principles of Fair Trade. There are three main advantages of becoming a member by following the process:

  1. Self assessment report, verify against the 10 principles of fair trade
  2. Follow consistent branding, logo, open up markets
  3. Answer the critics with real info

Connecting the dots over lunch: e-commerce, guarantee system, skilling initiatives: The participants were divided into groups to facilitate interaction with the respective speakers to explore opportunities and seek clarity about processes and advantages.

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