Enabling people to enter the workforce, regardless of ability

EnAble India’s mission is to empower people with disabilities. Its core activities are employment of people with disabilities, pre-employment services, supplemental education, counseling and support services, consultancy and training for other institutions and NGOs and technology services. — enable-india.org

I had first read about Shanti Raghavan, the founder of EnAble India, while doing research on Ashoka Fellows operating in Bangalore and Chennai. Three words capture her presence: SO MUCH ENERGY!

The group present at the meeting also included members of CSIM-Bangalore’s Governing Council and Dipesh Sutariya, co-founder of EnAble India. Before we discussed the specifics of GSE’s vision, I shared my experiences from working with Goodwill Industries in Wooster, OH. After learning about Goodwill’s job training program, I felt inspired by their model of empowering the disabled, an operation largely sustained by revenues from donated goods and industrial services contracts.

At first glance, Goodwill seems like a store that simply resells donated items at very affordable prices. In fact, this entrepreneurial organization “provides education, job training and placement for people with disabilities and barriers to employment,” thus facilitating independence. One way is through its stores, which provide the opportunity for job training in retail sales. The Goodwill Industries of Wayne and Holmes Counties also has contracts with several companies for light manufacturing, another avenue for job training, while also providing workforce development services. (You can read more about Wooster’s local Goodwill and watch a video here).

Operating in a very similar space, Shanti and her team at EnAble India work tirelessly to counsel, train, and place ‘persons with disabilities’ (PWD) in appropriate job placements with companies such as IBM, TATA, WIPRO, Infosys, and TeamSource. As Shanti recounted for us (with a very palpable passion for her work), many of the cases necessitate careful individual attention and follow up to make sure the partnership is well suited for both the employee and the employer. The organization also offers a very thorough variety of programming to support its mission; check it out by clicking here (my apologies for the poor quality of the copy!). Moreover, the leadership at EnAble India live their mission by employing PWD in their own office.

For me, this conversation really highlighted the possible ways that successful organizations with similar missions and target populations can learn from each other. As we discussed in many meetings, comparative research is one area where students enrolled in Global Social Entrepreneurship could assist a non-profit organization. These could be operational or mission-related questions which organizations may be interested in answering, but they may not currently have the time or resources to devote to this endeavor. Over the next few months, the non-profit clients and the GSE program will work together to formulate questions that fit the skill-set of undergraduate students and the scope of a 4-6 week internship. In the meantime, it’s very exciting to brainstorm about the possibilities!

This entry was posted in Assessment Trip (2009), by Marianne Sierocinski and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Enabling people to enter the workforce, regardless of ability

  1. sandeep bhatia says:

    very interesting to see the thoughts, ideas, excitement and possibilities.

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