During our inauguration, we were given a brief that we would be the first batch to work on a project called Make a Difference as a part of our academic curriculum. We all had mixed opinions about how this is going to work. Our ecstatic MBA journey started and it was filled with assignments, classes, surprise quizzes and what not. So our glorious“The MAD journey“ started in December where esteemed speakers heading various organizations and professors from reputed B-Schools talked about how their organizations help society and how we can use our business acumen in helping them identify issues and make them more inclusive.
This is when many of us changed our view about MAD.Unlike many of us thought it isn’t a service activity, it is rather a challenging task to use our expertise in helping out businesses or organizations. So we all kick-started by forming ourselves into teams of 6-7 and went on a hunt for finding a project at NGO’s local communities. We choose to work with an organisation called Payir.They facilitate and help people in creating self-sustainable business models. They work on addressing various issues such as health education sanitation and infrastructure.
Meeting with Founders
I would say the founders are totally dedicated and devoted in working towards well being of people. Among the projects they are working on, they asked us to choose the one where we can make the maximum impact by utilizing the skills we learnt in our management programme .We choose to work on Thoorigai, a division in which a group of 8 women are working on creating bags. One of the aims is to make this business self-sustainable and help them reap the benefits of this unit and make it more economically viable.
In the first look, problems seemed obvious, we gave all of our out of the box ideas, only to realize that they are not feasible to employ because there are a lot of constraints. The problem is not just about finding market. It was also about scale of operations, skill set of people that we should keep in mind before suggesting. Anything we suggest needs to be minor incremental changes to the skill set they possess currently and not unrealistic ideas which don’t fit into their business model.
Defining the scope was the most difficult task. We faced difficulty in defining scope of our project considering the time frame we have and which aspects can we work upon. We cannot change the way they do business, but only fill the lacunas in the existing model. Reminds me of the line in the book Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid “The problem of poverty must force us to innovate, not claim "rights to impose our solutions.”
Our First Visit
In order to understand the issues faced by them in a more elaborate way, we visited the Thoorigai group at Payir.It was located away from the city amongst the lush green fields.They were really supportive and helpful as language was a barrier to communicate with them.We discussed with them about the existing business model. We were surprised when we saw their way of working. They have had registers for each type of cloth they purchased and updated as in when it was used and purchased when it is about to get exhausted. There are some flaws which we realised but still I was impressed with the way they dealt with all the aspects we study Operations, Marketing (They set up stalls in Fests), Finance (costing and pricing of bags), and Strategy (which market to target, what sells where). A group of 8 women gained employment, a source of income, more than everything their morale is boosted up with the support of Payir. They are also enhancing their skills by attending training programs and in turn sharing their knowledge with the rest of the crew.
Like Mahatma Gandhi said the future of India Lies in its Villages. I believe they are the real face of this Country. These woman who strived to make a living are now owners of a unit and are continually seeking to explore opportunities and enhance their skills. The journey to success might be arduous but every step we take is a learning that will help you reach the summit.
We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. I hope we would definitely add value as we work along with them over a period of time as a team. It gives us immense pleasure to be a part of this project initiated at IIM Trichy. It gives us a wholesome experience and help us in developing a holistic approach of looking at issues in real world.
Renu is a first year PGP Student at IIM Trichy. She has a strong penchant for writing, reading books and loves to spend her free time on Sketching and writing poems. She has zeal for learning new things and exploring life.