Has anyone ever considered how those who are gifted differently, those who are specially-abled, compete in the hustle and bustle of a town in a country like ours?
Many groups and organisations exist that may support them, but they are unable to give them the resources they need to participate in the market for opportunities on an equal footing with everyone else.
- Digiabled : Helping ‘Specially Abled’ To Grow
- Naxal-Affected Areas: A Unique Challenge
- The Origins: Kunal’s Journey To Digiabled
- Empowering Through Employment: The Digiabled Model
- Challenges On The Horizon: Overcoming Logistics
- A Beacon Of Inclusion And Equality
- How Can You Help n such a great Initiative?
Digiabled, a local nonprofit, began its quest for a solution with this pressing problem in mind. Differently abled individuals from low-income Indian villages are assisted by the Digiabled Organisation to develop and seize possibilities.
Founded by the dynamic husband-wife duo, Kunal Gupta and Aditi Gupta, this organization has been rewriting the narrative for differently-abled individuals for nearly 3 years. With unwavering determination, they have successfully trained and employed over 35 differently-abled individuals, transforming their lives one LED bulb, solar lamp, and power bank at a time.
Digiabled : Helping ‘Specially Abled’ To Grow
It is disheartening to note that 40 to 80 million individuals grapple with disabilities, as reported by the Planning Commission. The stark reality includes low literacy rates, a scarcity of job opportunities, and the omnipresent weight of social stigma, effectively marginalizing the differently-abled.
Shockingly, a report by the International Labour Organisation reveals that an astonishing 72 percent of differently-abled individuals in India never secure employment during their lifetime. It is abundantly clear that a profound societal shift is necessary, one that prioritizes the integration and empowerment of disabled adults through skill development and employment opportunities.
Naxal-Affected Areas: A Unique Challenge
While several organizations work tirelessly to support differently-abled individuals in urban centers, the situation becomes infinitely more challenging in Naxal-affected areas like Sukma and Jashpur in Chhattisgarh.
Here, native inhabitants face almost insurmountable obstacles in their quest for employment. This is where Digiabled, short for ‘digitally abled,’ steps in as a game-changer.
Founded in December 2018, by Kunal Gupta and Aditi Gupta, the organization is committed to enhancing the quality of life for differently-abled adults in these regions by imparting valuable skills training and vocational support.
The Origins: Kunal’s Journey To Digiabled
Kunal Gupta’s journey to establishing Digiabled was anything but straightforward. He weathered the turbulence of failed business ventures before identifying a pressing need in Chhattisgarh’s remote areas, particularly in the realm of education.
“I ventured into a gold business with my father, but it didn’t work out. In 2012, I decided to start Edu Ventures along with my wife, with a primary focus on training and skill development,” Kunal recalls.
Over the years, they have empowered over 3,000 students with diverse skills, aimed at improving their employability prospects.
Kunal, with a background in Information Technology, initially trained a small group of differently-abled individuals under Edu Ventures. However, he realized that they possessed the skills to repair mobile devices but lacked opportunities.
In December 2018, the idea for Digiabled was born, focused on training differently-abled individuals to assemble essential electronic items like LED bulbs, solar lamps, and power banks.
Empowering Through Employment: The Digiabled Model
Once Digiabled embarked on its journey, Kunal and Aditi faced the challenge of ensuring a consistent supply of raw materials to meet demand. They sourced essential components like PCBs (Plastic Circuit Boards) and electronic equipment from New Delhi.
Kunal proudly asserts, “We are completely bootstrapped, and the local community is enthusiastic about working with us. In this remote area, employment opportunities are scarce, and everyone understands the value of a job.”
However, there were hurdles to overcome. Many beneficiaries were unable to relocate or commute, necessitating the establishment of assembly facilities in Jashpur and Sukma districts.
Kunal explains, “The district administrator allocated a 2,000 sq. ft. of land in both locations for our use, free of charge.” The differently-abled trainees, under the guidance of a seven-member team, produce approximately 100 LED bulbs, 20 solar lanterns, and 10 power banks daily. Payment is provided per piece, with employees earning between Rs 500 and Rs 800 per day.
Beyond assembly, Digiabled takes charge of marketing and sales, showcasing a personal touch. Each product features a card displaying the associate’s name who assembled it, allowing consumers to send personal messages via email. While the associates work for just a week or two each month, depending on demand, they play a pivotal role in shaping the product’s final form.
Challenges On The Horizon: Overcoming Logistics
Despite the commendable success, Digiabled faces logistical challenges. Raw materials travel from New Delhi to Raipur, Chhattisgarh, and onward to the respective districts, affecting product costs.
However, Kunal and Aditi remain undeterred and are charting a path toward online expansion through e-commerce platforms like Amazon. They also plan to extend their footprint to Bengaluru, a testament to their unwavering commitment to inclusivity.
A Beacon Of Inclusion And Equality
Digiabled is more than an organization; it’s a bridge to a future where everyone is included and treated equally, regardless of their abilities. It’s a reminder that differences should be celebrated, not barriers.
Kunal and Aditi faced numerous challenges, including a failed business venture and years of struggle while trying to establish a startup in a remote area affected by Naxal insurgency. However, they never gave up and continued to move forward with determination. As the saying goes, hard work can achieve almost anything, and their bootstrap startup eventually received well-deserved recognition from the business mogul Anand Mahindra.
In a recent funding initiative launched by Mahindra called “EnterpRiseBharat,” this startup secured the highest number of votes and emerged as the winner in the voting results. Now, they will have the invaluable guidance of this business giant to shape the future of their enterprise, bringing light to even more lives.
Mad 4 India appreciates Digiabled and all such social initiatives that help empower not just the needy but also India as a whole. If one can do it, all can do it. If you loved reading the initiative, you can visit their website at www.digiabled.com. You can also visit their Instagram on @digiabled and Facebook.
If you liked reading about Digiabled,You can also read : 60 YO, Started Business To Uplift Tribal Women By Making Crochet Kids Toys Now Earning Rs 14 Lakh annually.
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