The Foundation strongly believes that building and nurturing skills amongst youth and women is key to making a difference to their lives and to the society. With this belief, Foundation works towards channelizing youth and women towards entrepreneurship and livelihood development, so that they may participate equitably in economic progress. Foundation also works with rural families to improve their farm and non-farm livelihoods.
Creating livelihoods opportunities for the vast number of unemployed and unskilled people in the country is a challenge. Majority of youth lack the skills required to meet industry needs and are not able to find suitable jobs. On the other side, industries face huge problem of skilled manpower.
Further, many youth who come out of the schools and colleges, especially from rural areas, rarely have any clear idea of what further they can to pursue. Information related to educational and employment opportunities is not easily accessible and they also lack support in terms of coaching and counseling to pursue such opportunities.
Supporting women to come together, to save, to invest and get involved in initiatives which lead to sustainable incomes are all critical to empowering women economically. However, several women are still not been able to get such support due to lack of awareness and lack of proper support structures.
In the rural areas where GMRVF is working, most of the people are marginal farmers or landless labourers. These families need support to improve productivity and enhance incomes. Diversification of the livelihoods portfolio of rural families can help in increasing the incomes and reducing the risks and hence the Foundation works on this.
GMRVF’s vocational training initiative works towards bridging the skill gap between employers and those who seek employment.
The Foundation has set up and is running 13 vocational training institutes which focusses on training unemployed youth in a variety of skills like electrical, refrigeration and air-conditioning, two-wheeler repairs, excavator operations, bedside patient care, computer operations, industrial and domestic tailoring, etc. The Foundation also works towards settlement of these trainees through either helping them find jobs or settle in self-enterprises.
Further, Foundation runs Pratibha Career guidance-cum-Counseling Centers to inform youth about educational and employment opportunities and to prepare youth to avail the same. The centers provide information about job and educational opportunities, counseling, coaching, library support etc. to help the youth take informed decisions about their careers.
The Foundation‘s initiative called EMPOWER (Enabling Marketing of Products of Women Entrepreneurs) supports women from under-privileged communities to get an income based on making craft-based products, by providing them required training, marketing and other inputs. EMPOWER helps the women sell their products through various channels such as shops at the Airport, exhibitions, bulk orders for conferences and seminars, online marketing etc.
GMRVF supports communities to strengthen their existing livelihoods and also to take up new livelihoods by providing appropriate training, material, backward and forward linkages and marketing support. The approach is to create a portfolio of livelihoods for Below Poverty Line families so that their risks are reduced and incomes enhanced. Rural livelihoods are supported across the value chain to enhance the incomes of small farmers and other rural producers.
In Mangalore, GMRVF has been actively working with Self Help Groups for long. There are 42 SHGs active for the last several years. Nisha was a member of one of the SHGs. At that time, Nisha’s economic condition was rather precarious. She solicited GMRVF’s guidance for starting some new innovative microenterprise which would enhance her income. GMRVF put her in touch with a few entrepreneurs and possible businesses. She was comfortable with mushroom cultivation. GMRVF helped her develop a business model and conduct feasibility study. An SHG loaned her Rs 2000/- for starting the business.
The technical advice from another mushroom cultivator boosted her confidence. Nisha invested Rs 200/- for purchasing mushroom seeds and chemicals. The rest of the money she invested in restructuring a room for growing mushrooms. Initially, she got a profit of Rs 400/- from one Kg of mushroom seed. Nisha perfected the technique of mushroom cultivation and started selling mushrooms in the local market. Noticing her success, other women wanted to join Nisha.
Now Nisha is a confident mushroom grower and intends to expand her business. GMRVF is planning to help her by facilitating a loan from the Andhra Bank.
"GMR Varalakshmi Foundation has changed my life forever. From being dependent on my sister, I can now lead an independent life. I feel empowered and am confident of living my life."
Burada Varalakshmi hails from Narasimhapuram in Srikakulam District, Andhra Pradesh. Her father who works as an agricultural laborer, saved his meagre wages to ensure his three children completed their education. Due to his perseverance, Varalakshmi was able to graduate from SGCSR College, Rajam.
Upon graduating, she was unaware of career opportunities. It was at this time that she heard about the ‘Prathibha’ center and enrolled as a member. Prathibha library cum career counselling center established by GMR Varalakshmi Foundation, Rajam helps rural youth preparing for competitive exams by providing them with study material and conducting career counselling, mock interviews, group discussions and coaching classes.
Through the career counselling, Varalakshmi learnt of the many opportunities available for women in the Police Department. Inspired and motivated, she would cycle to and fro from her village every day to attend the coaching classes and would spend nearly 5 hours a day in the center, reading the books in the library.
Upon her clearing the written exam, staff at Prathibha center prepared her for the physical test by making use of the track facilities at SGCSR College. Due to her determination and hard work, Varalakshmi successfully cleared the physical tests as well and is currently undergoing training at the Police Training College in Vizianagaram. She attributes her success to the center and says that ‘Pratibha’ is a boon for unemployed qualified rural youth in and around Rajam.
Ruthamma is a resilient woman from Mamidipally village near the Hyderabad Airport. Her husband works as a gardener and earns Rs. 5,000 per month. The income however, was insufficient to support the basic needs of their 3 school going children.
An eager Ruthamma who desired to support her family financially, enrolled herself in the community tailoring centre established by GMR Varalakshmi Foundation in Shamshabad. The centre has, since 2006, trained 450 underprivileged women. Ruthamma was an exemplary student and quickly learnt the skills to make jute and other handmade products.
It was at this time that GMRVF established EMPOWER (Enabling Marketing of Products of Women Entrepreneurs). EMPOWER is an initiative that supports women from underprivileged communities to make an income based on making craft-based products, by providing them required training, marketing and other inputs. EMPOWER helps the women sell their products through various channels such as shops at the Airport, exhibitions, bulk orders for conferences and seminars, online marketing etc.
Ruthamma joined the EMPOWER team. Today she earns an average of Rs. 10,000 per month through EMPOWER and is a competent tailor who supports in the designing of jute products. She is grateful to GMRVF for helping turn her life around.
10 year old Sana was born and raised in Delhi in a large family of 6 siblings. Her father owns a small general provision store while her mother is a home maker. When she was a few years old, she had high fever. After that, doctors said she would not be able to speak or hear. Since there was no school nearby catering to children with special needs, Sana stayed at home and helped her mother with household chores while her siblings attended school.
In 2014, her mother learnt of the SAMARTH Resource Centre established near their house at Savda Ghevra, by the CSR Wing of DIAL, and enrolled Sana in the special education program. SAMARTH has been established to provide services like special education, basic physiotherapeutic care, counselling etc. for the differently abled.
Sana has now started speaking a few syllables thanks to the intense speech therapy given at the centre. Hearing aids have also been provided to her. The SAMARTH team also supported her in availing government benefits such as disability certificate, disability pension and bus pass.
Having increased her confidence, Sana joined karate coaching and recently won the 2nd prize in a tournament held in Nepal. Her parents are extremely proud of her and say Sana is a blessed child.
Reddi Swetha hails from Bobbili in Vizianagaram District, Andhra Pradesh. Her childhood was happy. At 17, she joined pre-university and dreamt of graduating and making her parents proud. Life however came to a standstill when her father unexpectedly succumbed to jaundice.
After her father’s untimely demise, the family found that he had accumulated a huge debt to pay for his treatment. Since her illiterate mother was unable to find a job, Swetha dropped out of college and undertook menial jobs to repay the debt.
It was at this time that a friend recommended her to join the ‘Beautician Course’ being offered at GMRVF’s Centre for Empowerment and Livelihood, Vizianagaram. Swetha immediately enrolled herself for this, and completed the training with utmost dedication. She then boldly decided to establish her own salon by taking a loan of Rs. 20,000 from State Bank of India. Her family however didn’t fully support her decision, since she would be adding to existing debts. Nevertheless, she was determined.
Though she initially faced stiff competition from established salons, Swetha was able to garner a wide customer base. Presently, the income she earns from the parlour has enabled her to clear some of the debt, apart from supporting her brother’s education. Her family is extremely proud of her and supports her aspirations of expanding the salon.
Kallem Naresh Goud was born and raised in the village of Mamidipally near Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), Hyderabad. His mother was widowed at an early age, leaving her solely responsible for the welfare of her 5 children. She set up a small kirana (general provision) shop in order to support the basic needs of the large family.
In 2008, upon completing his intermediate education, Naresh heard about the newly established GMRVF Centre for Empowerment and Livelihoods, Hyderabad (CEL-H). He promptly enrolled in the second batch of MS Office and DTP course. Here, he had access to excellent trainers, and gained exposure to eminent professionals in the industry. He proved to be a hard worker and excelled in all the activities.
On successful completion of the course, he was placed as a cashier in Tenaga Parking at the Airport. Due to his diligence, his salary doubled at the start of the second year. This motivated him to look for avenues to further climb the career ladder. He registered for a distance education program and earned a bachelor’s degree. He followed this with a MBA in Marketing.
Fast forward to 2018, Kallem earns a handsome salary as the Assistant General Manager of Marketing at Radha TMT Steel. He has also been able to build a lovely home for his family. He attributes his quick rise to the spark lit by GMRVF. Recently, he visited CEL-H as part of the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the Centre where he was felicitated by Mr. Pradeep Panicker, Dy. CEO GHIAL. He gave a motivational talk to current trainees wherein he proudly stated that GMRVF had shaped the course of his life.
55 year old Giridhar Behare hails from Dongargaon village near GMR Warora Energy Ltd. For years, he has been harvesting cotton, soybean and wheat from his farm. However, small land holding, poor yields and uncertain rainfalls kept him in the trap of poverty and food insecurity. After several years of poor harvests, Giridhar decided to join the Grain Cash Seed (GCS) Bank in 2014.
GCS Bank introduced by GMR Varalakshmi Foundation at Dongargaon, is a form of community seed bank. GMRVF, through an initial contribution, created a bank of these seeds. Farmers take loans of seeds from this and repay in kind, with interest, after they harvest their crop. GMRVF has also set up a demonstration plot at the village where agricultural scientists train farmers for increased productivity. Furthermore, GMRVF organises exposure visits for farmers to nearby successful farms. Training on improved agriculture practices are also being organized regularly for GCS Bank members. All this has not only helped farmers learn new techniques but also get guidance and support of experts in the field of agriculture.
Noting the success of the GCS Bank at Dongargaon, 4 GCS banks have been established in other villages by GMRVF, catering to the requirements of 900 farmers.
Prior to joining the GCS Bank, Giridhar used to harvest 6 quintal of cotton per acre. Today, on the same piece of land, he is able to harvest 12 quintal of cotton. His income has also considerably increased resulting in better education for his two children. He is grateful to GMRVF for giving hope of a better future to his family.
Matla Peda Apparao and his wife reside in Pampadipeta village near GMR Group’s Kakinada Socio Economic Zone in Andhra Pradesh.
He is dependent the income earned from selling the milk of his two cows which produced around 8 litres of milk a day. The fodder required to feed the cows costed him around Rs, 1,200 per month, which was a huge outgo from his income.
A few months ago, Apparao attended a veterinary camp organised by GMR Varalakshmi Foundation in association with the local Govt. Veterinary Dept. He not only got his cows vaccinated for free, but was given awareness on the benefits of using Azolla as an effective feed for livestock. Azolla is an aquatic fern rich in proteins, essential amino acids and vitamins. It is easily digested by livestock, apart from increasing both quantity and quality of milk.
After the camp, he approached GMRVF and expressed his interest in cultivating azolla, the ‘wonder fern’. GMRVF then paid the initial subsidy grant of Rs. 350 to the Dept. of Animal Husbandry and acquired the azolla kit, consisting of healthy azolla seeds and other materials needed to grow the same.
In a few weeks, he was able to cultivate enough azolla in his small backyard, to feed the cows. After a month of doing so, his cows showed improvement in milk yield. Presently, both his cows produce around 10 litres of milk every day. The expense for the fodder has also decreased to Rs. 550 per month. Matla is extremely grateful to GMRVF staff for introducing him to the benefits of the ‘Wonder Fern’.