Creating an impact- One livelihood at a time
Creating an impact- One livelihood at a time

By auther pic. Deepa M

May 24, 2019

Creating an impact- One livelihood at a time

Pankh batch amidst training session


Part of life are the struggles that come with it. This is true for everyone, but what about people whose life is full of struggle? What if dealing with these struggles in a systematic way led you to create a livelihood? What if the people who face these struggles had a way out? Pankh – Wings of Destiny is a programme by TRRAIN (Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India) designed for Persons with Disabilities to empower them. A livelihood creation programme that has successfully created over 12500 livelihoods.






















Mahdev Hanmante at Big Bazaar, Dahisar, Mumbai

Mahdev Hanmante is your normal, ordinary young fellow. He was struggling to land a job. This wasn’t because he lived in a small village in the Latur district of Maharashtra, or because his father is a painter, or because he wasn’t educated, or that he did not desire to work. This was because he wasn’t considered ‘normal’ or ‘ordinary’ by the people. Yes, he isdifferent; he is Speech and Hearing Impaired.


It was his disability that people perceived as his inability. However, his journey of life took a jump when he heard from his friends about Pankh. Using some money, hehad saved and borrowing the rest from his friends, he came to Mumbai. Mahdev joined the Pankh Santacruz Centre, completed his training, and is now working at the Big Bazaar Dahisar Store as a Team Member with a monthly salary of Rs. 10,000/- . When his father was the sole earner their annual income was Rs. 30,000 /-today their family income is Rs.150,000/-


India - the largest democracy in the world has a very strong demographic profile. Yet it faces a few challenges in its aspiration to accelerate its growth trajectory. The key challenge is that of ensuring "Inclusive development". According to the 2011 census, India has about 2.68 crore Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), out of a total population of 121 crores. This amounts to a 2.2% of the total population. Even with the progress made over the years in increasing community inclusion & integration, the unemployment rate for PwDs continues to be significantly higher than that for the abled people.


In the year 2016, as per the Government of India, 64% of the PwDs population were non-working, as compared to an average 9% unemployment rate of the abled population. It was widely understood that employment offers various benefits for people. In the case of PwDs - these benefits if extended are shown to have a positive impact. It is notable that PwDs are often socially marginalized and deniedaccess to jobs; hence extension of these benefits is significant to their inclusion.


Pankh – Wings of Destiny is an initiative by Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN) which seeks to create sustainable livelihoods for Persons with Disabilities through retail training and providing employment opportunities to them in the retail industry. Since its inception in 2011, Pankh has been able to create livelihood for more than 12500 Persons with Disabilities. 


The Pankh model is hinged on strategic partnerships with the local NGOs for training on retail specific skills. Concurrently there are sensitization workshops conducted for the Retailers who hire from the Pankh programme. The program consists of 45 to 60 days of training on Retail History, Corporate Sensitization, Personal Grooming, Personality Development, Communication, Language and Social Skills, Retail In-Depth, Customer service, Selling, Trend setting, Team work and Goal Setting. To ensure that the candidates are armed with confidence when they are working on ground, an on the job training for 10 to 15 days is also provided. Persons with disabilities (PwDs) being the primary stakeholder, continuous support in form of regular as well as special counseling is an integral part of Pankh programme. The cost per candidate is approximately between Rs. 14,500/- to 16,000/-. This includes Mobilization, High Quality Training, Exposure visits, Certification and Placement.


Morning Yoga session at a Pankh Centre.


Retail is one of the largest sectors in India employing more than 43 million people. Retail jobs have a very low entry barrier and opportunities are spread across the landscape. These characteristics make retail the best opportunity for creating an inclusive society. On the other hand, the attrition rates are higher in the retail which leads to endless employment opportunities for those who desire to work. Matching this with the need of social inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, Pankh ensures that these youngsters lead a life of dignity and have a positive impact not only on their life, but also on that of their family and the community.


The secondary stakeholders, namely, the Retailers, the Government, the Donors, and the General Public, appreciate the efforts of the Persons with Disabilities reflected through their sincere work. Thus, Pankh is helping making communities more sensitized and inclusive.Ms. KshitijaKrishnaswamy, Director of Corporate Citizenship, Accenture India asserts, “At Accenture, we are committed to create a culture of equality both within our workplace and outside in the communities we live in. Our Skills to Succeed corporate citizenship initiative has been empowering youth, women from economically weaker sections and persons with disabilities with skills to either get a job or build a business in the digital economy. We have partnered with TRRAIN (Trust for Retailers & Retail Associates of India) Foundation to provide vocational skills training and employment opportunities to persons with disabilities. In the past one and a half year, we have equipped more than 1500 persons with disabilities in India with a with a success ratio of 70 percent employment." 

Pankh Thane Centre Group Photo.


A testimonial to the success of the Pankh is the fact that it started with one center in Mumbai and has since grown to over 40 centers across 21 cities in India. Pankh now intends to grow geographically to 75 Centers and train 7500 Persons with Disabilities in the financial year 2019-20. Enabled with the Retailers Association’s Skill Council of India (RASCI) certified training these youngsters work in different jobs. Some of these are cashier, sales executive, project coordinator, warehouse associate to name a few. With the new wings the sky is the limit for these youngsters.


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A banker turned educator, Deepa had been a Teach For India Fellow. She is currently working as a Consultant and Freelancer.


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