India, the world’s second-most populous country, has struggled with high poverty rates. More than half of its 1.25 billion people live in villages and work in agriculture. However, the country’s fragmented land holdings are no longer able to support its burgeoning population.
For India, this presents a major problem. Unemployment remains high, particularly among educated rural youth, approximately 100 million of whom are jobless or underemployed, meaning they are overqualified for the positions they hold.
Buddhadev Mondal was one of these youth. Growing up in the state of West Bengal as the son of a tea-stall owner, Mondal had big plans.
“I always dreamt of becoming a self-reliant man and wished to make an impact through my work,” he said.
Mondal earned his bachelor's degree in education and had hoped to pursue his master’s degree. Unfortunately, financial issues forced him to seek immediate employment instead, but without the technical skills most employers in his area were after, Mondal struggled to find a decent job.
Then he heard about a training center run by the Anudip Foundation, a nonprofit social enterprise that aims to empower at-risk youth and women through digital skill development. Mondal enrolled in a program at the center — one of more than 100 that Anudip operates across India — where he not only learned information and communication technology (ICT) skills, but also worked on his English language and job preparedness capabilities.
After completing the program, Mondal was placed in Anudip’s 3D Printing for Development department, which creates customized 3D-printed prosthetics for amputees from low-income areas. s.
“The best part of my job here is that I am given an opportunity to learn the latest 3D modelling technology; earn a living to support my family, and also impact other people’s lives through my work,” Mondal said*.
Anudip, supported by international technology company Cisco with both funding and expertise, has trained more than 85,000 young people since it was founded in 2007, and has placed 75% of its students over the years in jobs with more than 300 employers.
The ICT industry in India has generated jobs for more than 10 million people.That figure is expected to triple within the next two years, according to NASSCOM, making skills like those Anudip teaches especially valuable.
“The super learning experience helped me get a job in one of the best brands and shape up my career, which I never thought I could achieve without Anudip in my life,” said 23-year-old Riya Banerjee, who got a job with Tata Consultancy Services after she completed her training.
In some regions of India, Anudip represents one of the only ways that young people can create the chance to break the cycle of poverty. Take 21-year-old Simi Khan, for example. She grew up in Metiabruz, West Bengal, a primarily Muslim area where women have traditionally lacked access to education and empowering opportunities, according to Khan.
“Anudip’s professional skill development center in Metiabruz was an opportunity for many like us to touch our dreams … It was the first of its kind in our locality. I am economically independent today, and feel delighted when my family sets my example to everyone,” said Khan, who now works for a digital data company.
Anudip is changing lives by reducing poverty and increasing the health, safety, and general well-being of India’s youth, while simultaneously helping to close the skills gap faced by employers worldwide. It aims to train 100,000 people a year and become financially sustainable through earned revenue within the next five years. Cisco’s support of Anudip is one of the many ways Cisco aims to positively impact one billion lives by 2025.
*quote has been lightly edited for clarity