India’s demographic dividend is widely acknowledged as a strength that sets it apart from other emerging economies. One million young men and women enter the workforce every month, which will add up to an astounding 240 million over the next twenty years. Rural youth make up two thirds of India’s population and are a major segment of these job seekers. At the same time, fast growing companies in retail, IT, BPO, banking and financial services struggle with finding employable staff, especially in rural areas. Research shows that only 5-40% of the staff in such companies has undergone formal training.
Sensing this opportunity, Girish Singhania, a graduate of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) -Bangalore, founded EduBridge in 2010. EduBridge was set up as a skill training company focused on training and placing youth from rural and semi-urban markets, and the company trained its first batch of students in the state of Tamil Nadu. Sudha (name changed), a girl from a village called Pallguddi near Trichy was part of this first batch and was offered a job at a financial services firm with a monthly salary of INR 8,500. This was a big step forward for her family who had a household income of INR 3,500 per month. Girish was overjoyed and was convinced that he had “cracked the code”. His joy turned to shock when Sudha turned down the job offer, suspecting that it would become harder to find a husband from her village who could earn more than her. This incident taught Girish many things about what it takes to translate training into livelihood: most importantly – the need to counsel and educate the entire family before starting the training program.
Since inception, EduBridge has successfully trained over 30,000 people and placed about 70 % of them in companies such as Axis Bank, Godrej, Reliance, ICICI bank and Karvy. EduBridge runs 25 skill development centers across the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Assam and Meghalaya with over 100 corporate partners, 7 state government partners, and 30 college/university partners. The courses that are taught include English, computer literacy, accounting and prep courses for banking exams. In an experiment conducted by the Centre for Civil Society, a prominent think tank in the education sector, students were given vouchers to sign up for a course from one of seven different training providers. EduBridge received the second highest enrollment, an endorsement of the quality of its training programs.
A recent EduBridge success story is that of Prithvi, a 20 year old youth and son of a vegetable vendor from the village of Salaganahalli in Kumta, Karnataka. He joined the training program conducted by Edubridge and IBM Daksh. Soon after, Prithvi was placed in a call center where he earns INR 7,200 per month, enabling him to double his household income. Prithvi has since become a role model for the children and youth in his village and Edubridge’s vision is to scale and create 1 million Prithvis across India by 2022.