Nudging out of poverty

for a secure future

Nudging out of poverty

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime,” says a popular proverb. Which is what  The/Nudge Foundation, a Bengaluru-based organisation, is doing.

Founded by Atul Satija in July 2015, the foundation aims to create opportunities for the underprivileged. It primarily focuses on ‘nudging’ people out of poverty in a sustainable and scalable manner.

The organisation notes that one million people will join the workforce every month for the next 15 years in India. Of these, 23% come from impoverished backgrounds, 50% are school dropouts, and most lack the skills to be employable. Therefore, imparting only livelihood training is proving to be insufficient. “While hard skills are critical, the absence of life skills and learning skills hinders the progress towards adequately meeting the needs of the economy as well as pulling the underprivileged sustainably out of poverty,” elaborates Atul.

Balanced learning

Which is why the foundation began to focus on equipping the youth with such skills through their flagship initiative, the Gurukul programme. It is a 100-day residential learning programme that imparts a combination of life skills, literacy and livelihood skills through habit-building and repetition. “It has been designed for those who have been unemployed or in irregular daily-wage jobs to enable them enter regular employment,” explains Atul. The programme focuses on providing the students these skills in three verticals — Driving, Beautician and Data Entry. This programme is conducted it its four centres across Bengaluru.

To encourage people join their course, the foundation reaches out through a direct admission scheme and newspaper advertisements. They also seek the help of grassroots NGOs and local religious leaders to reach out to more people, particularly those staying in North Karnataka. Generally, they reach out to those between the ages of 18 and 25. “We target this particular age group because we believe that by getting one youth out of poverty means we can get, on an average, eight people out of poverty (their immediate family and future family members),” says Sayi Pavithrasagar, associate director of marketing at The/Nudge.

During the course, the focus is on social development, health and wellness, personal development, family management, financial management and employability. As there may be a risk for some of the students to fall back into the loop of poverty for reasons such as debt, and health and expense shocks, the foundation takes various steps to ensure it does not happen. Which is why they encourage their students to save money, open a bank account and take up health insurance. The course even focuses on soft skills like reading and writing, spoken and written English, digital literacy, and basic numeracy to enable the students to progress in their careers.

A day at their training centres is packed with lessons, activities and chores. While their day may look hectic, none seem to be vexed about it. Often, this is punctuated with talks from experts, industrial visits, inspirational movies and their ‘Around the World’ series, where they are introduced to different cultures by a resident of a foreign country either through Skype or face-to-face interaction.

Most of the students, past and present, have been able to feel the positive impacts that the course has made. Take for instance, 20-year Pavitra Bhat from Uttara Kannada district, 19-year-old Ashwini M S from Chikkaballapura district and Ratna N S from Belagavi, who are doing the Beautician course. “We like the course that we are doing. It’s practical and we have learnt a lot,” they chime. Former students have also felt the change the course has made in their lives. “I found the course useful and learnt a lot. I have even recommended it to my friends,” reveals 22-year-old Devaraj H, who did the Driving course in March 2016.

Lifelong support

As many of them have moved to the city for the first time, getting adjusted becomes difficult. However, they are encouraged to come out of their comfort zone through  various activities they do. “Many of them also come from difficult situations. With the support and care they are given, they transform completely and they leave as strong and confident individuals,” says Shruti Singhania, The/Nudge Gurukul’s principal in Kadugodi, Bengaluru.

The facilitators have also felt the difference that they have made. “One moment that made me realise that I had made the right decision to teach was when one of my students requested to have a photograph of me with her daughter on her graduation day,” says Prajwal Shenoy, a Life Skills trainer.

The support for the students doesn’t just stop when the programmes get over. The alumni get lifelong support to prevent them from falling back into poverty.By doing so, they aim to keep their students and their families financially independent in thier lifetime. To know more about their work, visit www.thenudge.org.

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