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How persons with disabilities are changing the landscape in retail - My Take by B S Nagesh, Founder, TRRAIN

In My Take this week, B S Nagesh, the founder of Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN), speaks about the growing inclusion in India's retail industry

India is a land of shopkeepers. We have more than 10 million retailers with 43 million retail employees serving 1.3 billion Indians. Nowhere in the world is there one retailer for every 130 citizens.

Promising future

In the last 20 years, modern retail has exponentially grown and taken 10% share of the market. Today, modern retail employs more than three million employees directly. And if we take the ancillary industries like security, housekeeping, and logistics, these numbers will only double. Most of these jobs are customer-facing, and therefore help the youth to build their personality and develop self-confidence in dealing with customers.

The very nature of the retail industry has opened a big opportunity for creating jobs for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in our country. Out of the various roles identified in the retail industry, almost 31 roles were mapped to people with locomotor and speech and hearing disabilities, thus creating an opportunity to engage millions of such youth within the industry.

If the modern retail brings in inclusion and employs between 2-5% of such youth we will have close to a 100,000 jobs created.

Growing awareness

When we started our journey in TRRAIN, with the launch of Pankh, an initiative that creates sustainable livelihoods for PwDs in retail, our first centre in Hyderabad was an eye opener as all the students of the first batch got absorbed in Hypercity and did a fabulous job. Some of them even got promoted to a cashier's role within three months. We were pleasantly surprised when our floorwalker youth from Ahmedabad got the job of a customer service agent at Vodafone and was declared the best employee of the branch within a few months.

From four to five retail organizations employing such youth, we have seen around 150 retailers adopting disabled people in their work stream. Organizations like DMart and Future Group have even created an inclusion policy. The Landmark group and Reliance have created sub-programs and celebrate the success of our PwD candidates. We have honoured many PwD youth for their exemplary work during our TRRAIN Retail Awards.

Interactions with hearing, speech, and orthopedically impaired employees in different job roles from service associates to cashiers have led to both sensitization and appreciation from customers as well.

I believe PWD inclusion in the retail work place has seen just the tip of the iceberg. In the next 10 years, our dream is for the retail industry to employ one lakh or more such youth.

ALSO READ: Employment in retail boosts economic growth for persons with disabilities

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