Our newest hires are 2 girls from the target slum community. One of them is shown below in the photo on the left. She used to work in one of the supermarkets in the central part of the city but quit because the daily commute was too inconvenient and expensive for someone of her means. She and her mother live in a small rented house in the slum, but her mother is unable to leave home for work consistently due to ill health.
There are two of us who are mentoring her so she can take up responsibility as office manager / project records-keeper and accountant, and eventually, program manager - the (amazingly competent) woman who is currently handling these responsibilities, and myself. The reason I'm 'phasing out' the former is because she also works for Gram Tarang, our sister organisation, and hence at some point shall be unable to fully cope with a dual set of responsibilities.
- Also, this young girl seems to possess the kind of quiet competence, curiosity, and quickness of mind that, given sufficient training, exposure and mentoring, can take her career very far ahead. It would be wonderful if involvement with our project could give her the professional development opportunity she deserves.
- Given that she belongs to the community our project is targeting, her inclusion in the project team also furthers my goal of implementing this project in as participatory a manner as possible.
- (My hopes with a participatory approach are to build community capacity for sustaining this and other development projects).
- Mentoring this young girl to eventually take over core managerial responsibilities insures against the possibility that should I or my other senior team members quit the project, that the project shall then collapse. In other words, she is part of the community capacity building effort.
I've been fascinated by the packaging industry since I started this project, and discovered the operational and creative challenges of packaging the goods that our business ventures hope to produce. The packaging industry in Orissa is not that well developed. Conversations with local small businesses have given me to understand that most of the medium (or large) businesses in this region have in-house packaging facilities, and that small businesses often use branding and packaging facilities in other parts of the country (but particularly in parts of South India).
In the beginning I toyed with the idea of setting up a facility that would provide local small businesses with high quality branding and packaging services, and also provide marketing and sales support. This would include everything from logo development, to printing services (brochures, flyers, visiting cards), to package designing, marketing R&D, and the actual product packaging.
- Such a venture would addresses a critical need and a big gap in the local micro and small enterprise ecosystem.
- Project Goal # 1 : Enterprise Development It would thus directly address one of the two goals of this current project (and future organisation) - facilitation of local, urban micro and small businesses.
- Project Goal # 2 : Entrepreneur Development Through carefully designed (i) apprenticeship modules (ii) a training-cum-production (or 'learn while you earn' approach and (iii) maximum community participation, such a venture would also address the second of this project's two goals - development of local business entrepreneurs.
- Unfortunately at this point our project team has neither the competence, nor the organisational capacity, nor the financial resources that would be required to set up such a venture.
- But it is an important idea to store away for a time when we may be better able to implement it, either some of its components or in its entirety.