OdishaPlus Bureau

Embracing the spirit of National Start-up Day, Swakalpa mentees showcased their unique traditional products at Sisir Saras 2024, a  national level fair cum exhibition organized by ORMAS under the Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water Department, Government of Odisha.

Seven Swakalpa mentees – Ms. Ahalya Nayak (handicraft applique), Ms. Sabita Nayak (handicraft applique), Mr. Lokanath Mahanada (handloom sarees), Mr. Kishor Bag (handloom sarees), Ms. Sarmista Panda (packaged millet food), Ms. Chinamayee Das (traditional lippan art products), and Ms. Bipasha Dasgupta (packaged bakery & confectionery) – proudly represented Odisha’s rich cultural heritage through their diverse offerings. This event not only provided them with a chance to sell their products but also offered valuable market insights and boosted their confidence through firsthand experience in interacting with customers on a larger scale.

The event’s highlight was Ms. Ahalya Nayak, a Swakalpa mentee from Batamangala, Puri, being honored with the ‘Best Participant’ award among participants across 400 stalls representing 26 states. Notably, her hand-crafted appliqué products not only earned her this accolade but also recorded impressive sales during the event. Swakalpa’s mentoring and market exposure have played a pivotal role in formalizing and scaling up her business.

This exhibition marked her debut in a new market beyond the traditional method of selling through intermediaries.  This acknowledgment, coupled with her successful sales, has infused Ahalya with newfound confidence, inspiring ambitious plans to expand her business and generate employment opportunities in her village.

Swakalpa program has been instrumental in supporting the journey of many such aspiring entrepreneurs in Odisha. To foster 1,000 self-employed individuals, Swakalpa extends its support beyond skills training to comprehensive mentorship assistance, encompassing business formalization, access to markets, and finance and handholding in different aspects of the businesses. Swakalpa is committed to nurturing dreams and celebrating entrepreneurial achievements, leaving a tangible impact on the lives of individuals.

Sandeep Lanjewar, Director, Palladium India, shared his perspective stating, “This initiative holds immense significance for us as it possesses the transformative power to turn the entrepreneurial dreams of the youth into tangible reality. The program’s journey is comprehensive, spanning from candidate mobilization to 100 hours of training and mentorship, followed by ongoing handholding support to kickstart businesses. However, the intricacies involved are more nuanced than they may appear at first glance. We approach each case individually, working closely with aspiring entrepreneurs to understand the unique needs of their businesses, assess their skills, and provide tailored support to ensure they receive the precise assistance required to thrive. It’s not just about initiating a business; it’s about fostering sustainable growth and success on a personal and community level.”

So far, the program has engaged with over 15,000 potential entrepreneurs, screening more than 7500 candidates who have enrolled in the 100-hour Entrepreneurship Development Program. To date, 668 mentees have been identified, who are undergoing a 6-month mentorship and more than 140 enterprises have been established.

Jitendra Mohan Sahu, General Manager, MSOP, WSC, expressed his delight to see Swakalpa mentees participating at the event and said, “Swakalpa has not only empowered these budding entrepreneurs with invaluable skills and knowledge but also provided remarkable platforms to showcase their traditional products. The exposure and market insights gained during such events give them the confidence to dream big and expand their businesses. This is not just a training program; it’s a life-changing journey that fuels entrepreneurship and celebrates success.”

About Swakalpa

Swakalpa, a self-employment training and entrepreneurship skill development program, is led by the Odisha Skill Development Authority, in collaboration with the World Skill Center and Asian Development Bank with Palladium India as the implementation partner. The initiative aims to equip 10,000 ambitious youth with the necessary skills and knowledge on self-employment & entrepreneurship & establish at least 1,000 micro-businesses in the state of Odisha with a minimum 25% representation of women at all stages, from training to entrepreneurship.