How do you define disability?
A certain lack that prevents a person from doing ‘normal’ things that every regular person can or a tag that acts as a blockade to every opportunity that comes along?
Thankfully, the lessening usage of the term ‘disability’ in current times is in itself a harbinger of awareness amidst people of the fact that any sort of impairment doesn’t make a person any less abled.
Various organisations across the country have been working towards the welfare of people afflicted with different forms of impairment in order to make them self-sustained and independent.
One organisation in Manesar, Gurugram, has been working towards revolutionising the employment landscape for the differently abled and, along the way, relieve them off the tag ‘disabled’.
National Association for the Blind (Employment & Training) or Nabet is a social enterprise that loops in corporates who in turn offer industry level training and subsequent employment to the folks falling under the differently abled strata.
The brainchild of two brothers, Abhishek and Arjun Mishra, who kickstarted the venture in 2011, the decision of empowering the differently abled was instilled by a personal reason.
“Our grandmother who suffered from blindness had been an elemental factor for raising our cognisance towards the state of the people who had different types of impairments,” says Arjun.
Starting in 2009, the duo approached many local companies to get an insight of the nature of skill requirement on an industry basis.
“We sought their assistance in designing and developing a course curriculum to meet specific needs for the blind,” he says.
A training methodology was then charted out to club together these needs and the necessary software that the trainees could use.
“Since the IT & Telecommunications industry is on a forever boom, our focus was primarily on these sectors where the visually impaired trainees could be employed,” Arjun adds.
In 2011, the pilot batch of 15 visually impaired individuals was launched in collaboration with Idea Cellular, under the Aditya Birla Group. Organisations like Mahindra Group, Vodafone and Jeevansathi have worked with them over the years.
“More than a non-profit organisation, we wanted to enter as a social enterprise that provided manpower for industry jobs. The difference here was that this included the differently abled, whom society deems as being non-productive. This is what we wanted to change,” he explains.
The employment opportunities provided by Nabet includes sections like contact centre, data entry, software testing and accessibility testing.
“There are two ways we carry out our processes. Either companies can outsource the jobs, where we provide our centre from where the employees can work, or they can offer workplaces themselves,” Arjun says.
So far, all the capital for the project, including setting up the institution-cum-training centre as well as equipment and other paraphernalia, has been self-funded by the brothers.
“Our aim is to give the differently abled a shot at working in the industry. Instead of losing out on opportunities just because society thinks they can’t be productive enough, we want them to have a life that they can live independently out of their own earnings,” says Usha Mishra, who is Nabet’s managing trustee.
From the initial team of two, today Nabet India has a workforce of 70 employees who have been actively contributing towards enabling better skill training and employment opportunities for the differently abled. “Though we had started out keeping in mind the visually impaired, today we have orthopedically challenged persons in our team who are being trained effectively,” Arjun adds.
The brothers’ contribution towards making the lives of the differently abled a lot better hasn’t gone unrecognised.
In fact, Abhishek has been offered the prestigious Global Good Fund fellowship for 2017 representing southeast Asia. Arjun, on the other hand, has been bestowed with the Royal Commonwealth Society fellowship for 2017 and was one of the runner’s up for Queen’s Young Leaders Award for 2017.
Of future plans, Arjun mentions being in talks with the Ministry of Social Justice to launch a centralised helpline for the differently abled that can be accessed for any kind of query — ranging from basic employment inquiries to even reporting abuse.
“We have been working on it and hopefully the project will sprout wings soon enough,” he adds.
You can reach out to Nabet by writing to them at [email protected] or call at 8506002074 / 9718903091.