SEWA – Saksham Initiative of Gitanjali Jems – Skills for People with Disabilities
The Saksham initiative of Gitanjali Group is focused on empowerment of People with Disabilities (PWD’s) through training and employment. The goal of the project is to create conditions for their rehabilitation and integration into society. Gems and jewellery in one of the industries where there is a huge potential for employment of the underprivileged PWD due to the specific nature of the processes. This initiative in partnership with Centre for PWD Livelihoods (CPDL), a public-private initiative between Youth4Jobs and Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, has emerged as a model for other companies to follow in skill development.
A special Saksham training centre operates at the Rajiv Gems Park, Learners are mobilised from different districts of the state by special community teams who are disabled themselves, identified and trained by CPDL, which has partnered with Gitanjali to identify, source and counsel learners. A six month training course is provided at a training centre set up by Gitanjali Gems at their manufacturing plant in Hyderabad. Two trainers are present who are sensitive towards different forms of disabilities and the capability of the learners to perform different processes in jewellery design and manufacturing. All participants are provided with free board and lodging. 280 young people have been trained and placed so far in a 1000 total workforce. The plan is to step this number to 1000 as their workforce expands.
The benefits of the Saksham initiative have been many, the main benefits are listed below:
- Increased productivity and lower attrition rates for Gitanjali Gems who have come to see hiring people with disabilities as a sound business decision as well as a CSRinitiative
- Increased self-esteem and confidence among participants especially women who were previously seen as burdens to their families
- Removing the prevalent social stigma against people with disabilities
- Creation of a positive work place environment which is sensitised to the needs and aspirations of people with disabilities
In 2010, The Saksham initiative was awarded the prestigious NCPEDP- Shell Helen Keller Award, 2010 under Category C meant for Companies/Organizations/Institutions who through their policies and practices demonstrate their belief in equal rights and gainful employment for people with disabilities.