Today Tech Mahindra Foundation, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of Tech Mahindra Ltd. reaches two important milestones.
The first milestone is that April 2017 marks ten years since the establishment of the Foundation. Since 2007, we have been diligently working in the areas of education, employability and inclusivity for persons with disabilities.
What I would like to say here is that it is not the mere fact of completing 10 years that is noteworthy, but the journey the Foundation has taken over the past decade.
Mr. Anand Mahindra said to us once, “Education is the single most powerful intervention for transforming lives.” India is a young country compared to many developed nations. The median age is 29 years, and a majority of the population is below the age of 35. There has been a lot of buzz around India’s ‘demographic dividend’ waiting to be tapped, and an equal amount of concern about the same young people whose progress in life might be obstructed by a lack of access to education and skills at the right time. We hope to make sure the ‘demographic dividend’ pays off by living our motto of ‘Empowering through Education’.
A SMART Solution
With this in mind, in addition to our school support programmes ARISE (All-Round Improvement in School Education) and Shikshaantar (where we train teachers from government schools), we began to work in the area of skill development 5 years ago. In 2012-13, we opened three SMART (Skills for Market Training) centres to skill young people in urban areas, most of whom were school drop-outs or unable to continue to higher education. We taught them English, computer skills and crucially, coached them in ‘workplace readiness’ so that our SMART trainees could walk into a new job prepared for what would be expected of them. Two years ago, KPMG assessed SMART and concluded that there is a social return on investment (SROI) of Rs 13.29 for every rupee invested. When the most vulnerable in society are empowered, everybody benefits.
In five years, we have grown from 3 to 99 centres and have imparted skills to 50,000 young people. Under the banner of SMART, we created SMART+ which skills persons with disabilities and SMART-T which imparts technical training. Last year, we raised the bar for our SMART programme by establishing the Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare in New Delhi, which has the capacity to train up to 2000 allied health professionals in a year.
This brings us to our second milestone.
Today we will inaugurate the 100th SMART centre in Mumbai, in association with the Helen Keller Institute for the Deaf and Deaf-blind. This centre is the first of its kind as it will tailor elements of SMART-T and SMART+ to provide technical training to persons with disabilities.
Where we are now
The TMF team has grown to over 50 people in 12 cities across India. We have been fortunate to see our programmes deliver value to our beneficiaries and also to society in general. It’s been a joy to see more and more of you join us in volunteering every year. 2016-17 saw the largest rise in both how many of you volunteered and how many hours you spent volunteering with us.
Here’s where we will stand by the end of today:
100 SMART Centres
67 Education and Disability Projects
50,000 young people skilled
Over 2,50,000 beneficiaries across programmes
As the world progresses, it is all the more imperative that we ensure that our young people at the bottom of the pyramid are not left in the past by what the future holds. We do not hold the answers to all the problems society faces, and we know that our work touches a fraction of the total number of people who need interventions like SMART to be able to take charge of their lives.
The road so far has neither been easy nor perfect. We have struggled against the challenges of India’s huge young population, made mistakes and come away wiser for them. Through all these years, what has ensured that we persisted, even when we worried about the impact we were making, has been the unstinting support the Tech Mahindra family has given us.
We now have a decade of learning and growth behind us, and are earning the trust of the communities we work with. We are quietly confident about taking on the challenges of the next 10 years.
A small note:
Going beyond numbers, it is absolutely crucial to understand what it really means to ‘impact’ someone’s life. On the occasion of 10 Years – 100 Centres of Tech Mahindra Foundation, we’ve created a short video called ‘Do Gullak’ (Two Piggybanks) loosely inspired by a true story to showcase what ‘empowering through education’ really means.
And to all of you at Tech M, please know that all your efforts, and our efforts are together making someone’s life – and nearly 2,50,000 other lives – change for the better!