Saturday, 24 March 2012

From Unemployed to Self-Employed: Abid Hasan's Success Story

Patni is a small village located fourteen kilometers away from Saharanpur city in Uttar Pradesh. It’s a curious place that comes to life after six p.m., then falls into a collective slumber as soon as the clock strikes ten. These four hours are when the villagers return from work and mingle. These four hours are also when Abid, a young man, opens his mobile repairs shop with his friend, Sunil. Every evening, Sunil and Abid attend to their customers. While Sunil takes care of repairwork, Abid helps with downloading songs, uploading files, and a variety of functions such as scanning and storing files in memory cards.

Like his friends and acquaintances, Abid leaves for work at eight in the morning and signs out at five. He works as an office helper in the Agrasar center at Saharanpur. The journey from his house to the office is a long one that takes an hour.

It’s easy to see what a disciplined and enterprising young man Abid is. Yet his outlook on life was starkly different a year ago. Born in 1992 and adopted by an uncle, Abid Hasan grew up in Patni. Having failed to pass the matriculation examination, he moved to Dehradun in 2010 to take up a course in Diesel Engine Mechanics from an employability academy. Assured that he’d be getting a placement at Tata Motors, Abid spent nine months at the centre. Whatever amount of funding that had been invested in this dream went to waste as Abid not only did not get the promised job, he didn’t bother to search for more opportunities.

The months following his stint at this Academy saw Abid languishing in unemployment. One of his brothers-in-law, who is a contractor, got him to train more in the electrical and mechanical field, but Abid was not to be persuaded out of his apathy. He finally returned to Patni in March, 2011, and then joined Agrasar in September.

At Agrasar, Abid took up the Workplace English, IT and Retail courses. By the end of the training, he had grasped enough knowledge; he could even understand and read English. As a form of probationary period, he was hired as the office helper. Although enthusiastic and sincere, Abid’s career had a shaky beginning. There were a few errands he refused to undertake, for instance, going to the bank. With the passage of time, however, his confidence grew, and the day finally came when he no longer waited for a job opportunity; he created one for himself.

As somebody well aware of the goings-on of the villagers of Patni, Abid saw a market for mobile repairs and assistance. There are approximately 3000 mobile users in the area he lives in, and not many shops where they can go to in time of need. Abid discussed his idea with Sunil, another Agrasar graduate, and currently employed at Micromax, Saharanpur. Sunil jumped on the train, and on March 11th, 2012, their shop was finally opened. And, much to everybody’s delight, it was a hit with the villagers.

There are many kinds of victories that can be achieved in life, but few of them are as rewarding as helping a human being transform. Such is the victory that the Agrasar team has found in Abid. Not too long ago, this twenty-two year old student who designed the banner for his shop all on his own used to claim that his mission was to buy a better, swankier mobile phone; now, if you ask him about his goals, his answer will be entirely different. Abid dreams of earning and saving more money, and he hopes to marry in the near future and start a family. He’s also appearing for the HSLC exam this year.

As for going to the bank, it’s all in a day’s work for Abid.

Agrasar, an NGO, has been founded by the Edulever team. Agrasar Center for Employability (ACE) is its flagship venture that started in Saharanpur in September 2011.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Edulever's Footprints

The Edulever journey began in August 2009, and since then, we have completed 28 projects with 16 clients across the country. We still qualify as a start-up, still look at ourselves as fledglings in the vast field of education and training. However, we also look back at this journey with a huge sense of accomplishment, as our footprints are now spread across the length and breadth of the country - as this interactive map will tell you.

We are now poised to expand these footprints further, with two new projects about to get underway. The first of these is to do with helping youth improve their employability skills - something on which we now have significant experience - and the other will see us travel across the country over the next few months to train teachers from over a hundred government schools. We are excited at these opportunities, anxious to do more, eager to see our small contributions get reflected in real change on the ground...