Next Billion - Development through Enterprise

Friday, August 19, 2011

Milaap Providing Vocational Training to Rural Students Via Microlending

By:Devanik Saha

In most developed countries, nearly 95 percent of the youth between the ages of 15 to 25 years, learn trade or a skill or a competence, in a formal manner. In India, this figure is less than 1 percent. Based on the current trends in India's labour participation and unemployment rate, it is estimated about 423 million of India's working-age population will be unemployed or unable to participate in the job market by 2030, according to the National Sample Survey Organization 61st round 2004-05.

This signifies that a large number of school drop outs do not have access to skill development for improving their employability. The educational entry requirements and long duration of courses of the formal training system are some of the impediments for a person of low educational attainment to acquire skills for their livelihood.

Milaap, an online platform that enables global microlending to India's poor and serves as a microfranchising hub (see NextBillion's past coverage of Milaap here), announced it will enable anyone to lend money to help students get vocational training through Milaap's online platform. 

Milaap has partnered with with GRAVITY, a joint venture between MFI Grameen Koota, and vocational training institute Vidya Poshak, which provides the teachers, curriculum and other educational resources. Through its network of field partners, Milaap is hoping to catalyze a revolution of sorts to help a multitude of youth to get formal training in diverse yet important fields such as hospitality, retail, security, business process outsourcing or BPO, microfinance and banking, tailoring/garments and health care.

GRAVITY has started the vocational training program for a batch of students at its Dharwad Resource Center. The three-month course officially began in April 2011. GRAVITY has been Milaap's field partner for about two months now.

It is interesting to note that out of the 37 students who have enrolled in the program, a healthy 13 of them are girls. In addition, ten of the students belong to minorities, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. All of the students are aged between 18 and 23. GRAVITY has found that nursing care and retail (shop assistants) seem to be preferred option among the students.

The students who applied were from Dharwad, Hubli, Belgaum and surrounding areas. The vocational training will be conducted at the Dharwad Resource Centre, which is one of the branches in which GRAVITY conducts its courses.

The course fees per student are Rs 10000. Milaap has already raised the course fees for all the students in this batch through its lenders. Students who undergo training with GRAVITY secure a job that pays roughly Rs 7000, jobs that are guaranteed, according to Milaap.

It is often said that an investment in education is the wisest investment that one can make, and this certainly rings true here.