Dreams to achieve bigger goals are what every individual possesses. But accomplishing them demands perseverance and patience. Meet Mrs. Pavithra Y S of Vindhya e-Infomedia Pvt. Ltd. Bengaluru, Who has achieved unique distinction of starting a ‘Business & Philanthropy’ combo venture through a BPO organization to employ differently abled workforce to play various roles and responsibilities. An organization incepted with two employees hired from NGO has grown up to 1400 plus workforce with 60% of them being physically challenged employees. Exploring the complete process used by Vindhya e-InfoMedia from the selection, recruiting, training and deployment of employees to work floor is scintillating to learn.
According to Disability Information Resources web portal, only 0.4% of the total workforce the in Indian corporate sector. The accepted trend with respect to physically challenged workers is to either absorb them in NGO or train them to be self-employed. Gearing them up to take up corporate jobs have not been the market trend until recently.
The Bird’s Eye View of Vindhya e-Infomedia Pvt. Ltd.
Mrs. Pavithra Y S, who has a commerce degree from Bangalore University and having Executive General Management certification from IIM Bangalore, was aiming to be an entrepreneur and with her husband’s encouragement to start something ‘big and unique’ could visualize a for-profit organization for People with Disabilities (PWD). True to the adage ‘Little drops of water make a mighty ocean,’ she hired two disabled persons from an NGO as her first employees, trained them to deliver the solutions to the customers. Thus in July 2006, Vindhya e-InfoMedia had its inception as the only for-profit organization of India with the People with Disability in focus. The company’s key objective is to provide outstanding customer services to channel partners. It provides both IT and ITES services through people with disabilities. Today employees who are orthopedically challenged, hearing or visually impaired or having minor autism are hired by Vindhya Pvt. Ltd. Also, accepting all these challenges, it has grown up to celebrate the 11th year of success in IT and ITES service.
Sign Language is Official Here
Pavithra and her team had hurricane task ahead of them to train differently able employees. Since her first employees were with hearing impairment Sign Language was incorporated as the official language of Vindhya. To lead from front, Pavithra also learnt Sign Language to communicate with her workforce.
Buddy System to Train newcomers
According to Pavithra, new employees will be deployed to work-floor only after they fully understand the specificities of work assigned. To achieve it, her organization has set up a ‘Buddy’ system so that newcomers are made to spend time with experienced staff to gain confidence on doing the task at hand. It provides two folded advantage; the First one being a faster learning process and second is confidence reinforcing method. Upon successful training, these employees will be provided with certificates. Initially, they will be made to carry out simple tasks and gradually the difficulty level is increased. In this decade’s journey, Vindhya e-InfoMedia can train 1000 people with disabilities (PWD), and its aim is to train 5000 such PWD by 2020.
According to Pavithra, their mission is to provide PWD workforce with a long-term professional life and make them countable in building the economy of nation and world. Various designations this PWD are made to take up through Vindhya Pvt. Ltd. can be listed as follows: Process Associate, Senior Process Associate, Customer Support Executives, Quality Analyst, Assistant Team Leader, Team Leader, Training Manager, Assistant Manager, Manager-Operations, Associate Vice President Operations, etc. Pavithra and her team aren’t alone in this socio-economic cause; they are funded by Accion Investors and Michael Dell and Susan Dell Foundation. The company also has a long list of clients prominent among them are Airtel, IBM, Titan, and Wipro.
Challenges & Hurdles Faced
Pavithra categorically rules out that she had to face special challenges as a women entrepreneur. According to her challenges faced by both men and women, first generation entrepreneurs are similar. She also throws light on skepticism people expressed towards her venture as the model had to run depending on PWD employees. And even the client who looked at the quality is at stake through PWD, was convinced by taking a pilot project from them and only after its successful execution bidding for the actual project is done. She confidently tells that quality is of core importance at Vindhya and there is no room for ‘pity’ or ‘sympathy.’
She also recalls days when she did not have adequate fund to pay salaries and recalls a micro-finance recession a few years ago which helped her to explore fresh avenues in the service sector. She calls upon US based firms to hire more People with disabilities as they are equally good in delivering the goods.
Her call to Women entrepreneurs is to look at profitability as a key factor to sustain in the market and urges them to develop Networking skills, (which she found lacking in her during initial days) to scale up to the demands of the International market and most importantly her message is “Don’t Give Up.”
Rewards & Recognitions
Awards and recognition galore on Mrs. Pavithra Y S, she has been the winner of prestigious “100 women Achievers Award” of Ministry of women and child department given away by Honourable President of India. Apart from this she has numerous awards like ‘Indira Gandhi Sadbhavana Award’ by the Indian Solidarity Council, ‘Karnataka State Award from the Disability’ by Dept. of Govt. of Karnataka, “TATA-TiE Stree Shakti Award 2009”, NDTV Profit business leader of the year award, “Young Achiever Award 2010” from Brigade Group & Rotary. Selected as “One of the 25 leaders of tomorrow” by Times of India a leading National Daily in India. She has been given special recognition from NASSCOM for Gender Inclusivity successfully for two years in a row. Also, she is the recipient of Loreal- Femina Business Woman of the Year Award for 2014.
We at Kalam Fan Club sincerely appreciate the energy and enthusiasm with which Pavithra has taken the cause of providing a platform for People with Disability to build a career in corporate and private sectors and enhance their career horizons.