The story of a Challenge
Updated: Sep 24, 2019
In the summer of 2017, Udhyam Learning Foundation conducted the Udhyam Shiksha program at Ghousia Polytechnic for students pursuing diploma courses in the college. Being an all-girls institution, it can be seen as a perfect place to experiment and observe how homogeneous groups interact and test the effectiveness of apparently similar minds. Sana was a student pursuing diploma computer sciences in the college and this story tries to explore the program through her eyes.
The facilitators from the program initially gave a demonstration and all interested students signed up for the workshops which were tentatively part of their daily college schedule. The students learnt about ideation, innovation and leadership through group discussions, team building activities and exciting courseware. Unlike their college faculty, the facilitators were keen on student response and would constantly ensure that they were comfortable by encouraging them to frequently interact and ask doubts.
The students conducted a short survey in various predetermined locations around their college in order to come up with a business idea. Accordingly, jewellery and snacks were decided to be ideal for a profitable business and working models were designed based on them. Sana was part of the team making and selling jewellery. Her team consisted of 6 members and they made ear rings, chains and bracelets with quilling paper and silk threads. Most of their raw materials was bought from KR Market. The team would divide work in series with each member making a part of the final produce. Their working hours would be free periods during college and at home.
They started marketing the produce initially to their friends and faculty at college. The response was quite encouraging with some even requesting customization. Soon the word spread all across the campus and Sana’s team started selling out most of their produce in the initial days. However, their experience with the general public was mixed. While some encouraged the young students trying to take initiative and learn by doing, a significant number of people also snubbed and questioned the quality of their jewellery. Because of this, the sales started plateauing and the students approached their mentors for further guidance. They were instructed to reconsider the prices and lower the profit margin. They were asked to define a target population and select a suitable venue for marketing their jewellery. The students then chose to sell their jewellery outside other schools and colleges where their outreach was maximized and time was conserved. Sana’s team started their business with rupees 2500 and made rupees 5000 by the end of the project; a hundred percent profit!
Sana feels that her biggest strength was her friends. Her team stood with each other through thick and thin. They had minor skirmishes but they had learnt to give up on their petty squabbles for the bigger cause of the team. Her family was initially unaware of the nature of the program and when they did get to know about the initiative, their support came with a lot of skepticism. There were restrictions on travel and time which was a major hurdle given that she was juggling between college and her business. This is where her friends came to her aid and didn’t let her limitations come in the way of her productivity.
Through the program Sana learnt the necessity of friends’ and family’s support in the right proportion. She understands that the restrictions imposed on her were of protective in nature and didn’t have any patriarchal intent. This she substantiates by the fact that her parents encouraged her working on the business at home and even promoted her business to an extent. She feels that the independence that entrepreneurship offers comes with reasonable restrictions and requires cooperation of a lot of support systems.
Sana’s primary goal which led her to pursue the diploma course was the need to begin working as soon as possible and support her family economically. Although she feels the need still exists, she is now open to pursuing higher education if a favourable opportunity and conducive environment is present. She is also upgrading her skills by pursuing an internship in web designing. Sana claims that the joyful learning experience and challenging ground work provided by Udhyam Shiksha Program helped her rediscover herself, prioritize her goals and optimize her time. She deems herself to be much better at anticipating and tackling challenges than she was before.