CSR: BPO for differently abled has sound future
- BPO for differently abled has sound future.....Priyanka Golikeri
Vindhya, a venture of Pavithra Y S, is looking to double its employee base of close to 300 in one yearWhile pursuing her chartered accountancy a few years ago, Pavithra YS had never imagined that one day she would start her own organisation and employ close to 300 people.With no prior work experience and content with matrimonial responsibilities, Pavithra was clueless about organisational environment and work culture, let alone the challenges that go with starting an enterprise.During her CA days she realised that unlike physically fit people like her, job opportunities for the disabled were scant.This prompted Pavithra to dig into her (and her husbandï¿½s) savings, scout for bank loans and put together an enterprise that would focus on employing the disabled and those from below poverty line and rural areas.With no prior work experience and content with matrimonial responsibilities, Pavithra was completely clueless about organisational environment and work culture, let alone the challenges that go with starting an enterprise.Today Vindhya E-Infomedia, the BPO Pavithra and her husband Ashok Giri started in Bangalore in 2006, employs 300, with 90% having various orthopaedic and hearing disabilities. From the receptionist G Srinivas, who lost his hands while working as an electrician, to polio-afflicted Vasantha Kumari, who heads a 15-member team, employees in Vindhya experience a feeling of belonging and confidence.ï¿½We started with just two people, with the strength increasing to 22 by the end of the first year, and touched hundred plus by the third,ï¿½ says Pavithra.Vindhya undertakes work like data entry, data processing, proof reading, data conversion for its 18-20 clients, which comprise companies from banking, financial services, insurance, IT and microfinance domains.Pavithra moved beyond two perceived notions regarding disabled people while setting up Vindhya. Firstly, by stressing that the enterprise is not non-profit and that it worked with the motive of making money like any regular BPO. ï¿½Non-profit may not have been sustainable in the long run and the employees need to know that there is no air of charity here. They work and get their salaries like in any other organisation,ï¿½ says Pavithra.Secondly, she wanted to stay away from domains such as handicrafts, weaving, etc where disabled people have traditionally found employment. Bangalore being the IT city, she felt there would be ample opportunities in the BPO space if clients are assured of quality and timely services.There is always a question mark over whether these people are productive, says Pavithra. ï¿½We erase those doubts by training the employees for 15 days.ï¿½Though the basic eligibility required for a person to work in Vindhya is that he should have cleared class 10, has basic typing and computer skills and an understanding of English; there are MBAs, engineers, and graduates, too, working in the BPO.ï¿½Though it was initially difficult to convince clients, the business is growing favourably,ï¿½ says Pavithra. So apart from their headquarters in Bangalore, Vindhya has expanded to New Delhi and Hubli.Vindhya is looking at expanding its employee base to 500-700 by March next. It sources its manpower through referrals, NGOs, and by holding camps in rural areas. ï¿½The employees are not just from Bangalore but also states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, who are provided with subsidised accommodation,ï¿½ says Pavithra.She says most are freshers (without any previous work experience) and are now able to support their families, marry, pay back loans, move from villages to metros and talk of career growth.Take the example of Kumari. She joined as a team member four years ago and has slowly climbed the ladder. She now takes home a decent salary which helps in paying her 11-year-old daughterï¿½s school fees. Srinivas has managed to find a bride and supports his old mother despite having lost his hands.