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Code Unnati: Empowering Youth and Women for Future Employability Skills and Entrepreneurship

Empowering Youth and Women for Future Employability Skills and Entrepreneurship is a three -year partnership project between SAP Labs India Private India Ltd., United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Volunteers (UNV). The project aims to improve access to entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for 20,000 youth and 5000 women, while also empowering them to make informed decisions. Across the two proposed target groups (youth and women), the interventions are working towards increased awareness, enhancing employability and business skills capacity, facilitation of linkages, mentorship support and nurturing the innovation potential of youth and women of rural and urban areas. The project activities are being implemented across 3 districts in the state of Karnataka viz. Bangalore Rural, Dakshin Kannada and Raichur. The projectincorporates the essence of SAP’s initiatives to make a meaningful contribution to communities, emphasising on the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Read below the story of four women from the Melanthabettu village of Karnataka which proves that teamwork and collaboration can help you succeed.

Rama, Devaki,Sumangala, and Visalakshi belong to different socio-economic backgrounds. What brought them together is their aspiration to establish a business and contribute to their family earnings.These four aspiring women entrepreneurs came together to form a Self-Help Group (SHG) under the Sanjeevani mission (the national rural livelihoods mission of Karnataka – NRLM).

Illiteracy, lack of support from family and society, and dearth of awareness about business and entrepreneurship proved to be their major roadblocks on the way. During their pursuit, the master bookkeeper of their Grampanchayat, introduced them to Code Unnati.

Code Unnati proved to be the guiding light for these ambitious women. They attended the awareness program and found the motivation they were seeking all along. After completing the session, the group enrolled for the Entrepreneurship Awareness Program (EAP), a two-day program that helps the participants to have a brief understanding of the basics of business, financial and marketing linkages and identifying entrepreneurship opportunities. After the EAP training, they researched the products that were in demand in their locality and settled on making deepadabathi (cotton wick).

With support from their NRLM and Code Unnati team, the group embarked upon their entrepreneurship journey. They sourced the raw material from their neighborhood to produce cotton wicks and first sold them to households, shops, and temples in their village. The product was readily accepted, and the positive response gave them a much-required boost to their confidence.

Code Unnati team held a brainstorming session with the group to help them identify marketing linkages that could expand their reach. Code Unnati proceeded to support the group to get their product branded and market it. They are now able to make a profit of Rs. 80 from a cotton bundle of Rs.120. The women entrepreneurs now eagerly waite to attend the Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) of Code Unnati. They want to learn business management skills to take their business to a new level. They are presently producing the cotton wicks on a large scale as the temple authorities have become their biggest marketing platform.

Rama, who trained three other women and started a handmade cotton wick manufacturing unit, is now being approached by larger customers across the district for training. Many aspiring women entrepreneurs from different parts of the state are reaching out to Rama to undergo training for cotton wick manufacturing.Rama and her team are grateful to Code Unnati team for the handholding and mentorship support throughout their journey.