Entrepreneur Chumki Datta is giving disabled people the opportunity to be seen as equals
Since 2018, Vriddhi Training and Production Centre founded by entrepreneur Chumki Datta has been offering skill training and jobs to people with disabilities to enable them to be financially independent. Founder Chumki Datta says this is to help disabled people overcome traditional stereotypes.
Until some years ago Shambuprasad Patnaik watched his sister longingly as she got dressed and left for work every morning. He longed to do the same but being a person with moderate intellectual disability, few job opportunities were available.
Few jobs for intellectually disabled people
Then in 2018, Shambuprasad’s mother Sanjukta heard about Vriddhi Training and Production Centre. This is a skilling centre for people with intellectual disabilities launched by social entrepreneur Chumki Datta. The venture is supported by the Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Department, Government of Odisha.
Chumki, who is a wheelchair user, wanted to empower the disabled community. “In 2003, I injured my spine in a car accident and became a wheelchair user for life”, says Chumki, who has business interests in varied sectors like hospitality, designing and advertising. She realised there were few skilling and employment opportunities for disabled people, especially those with intellectual disabilities.
Vridhi was started with the idea that clinical care alone is not sufficient for a person with disability. They also require comprehensive rehabilitation, including skill training to make them economically independent. It would encourage the differently abled people towards social participation and enable independent dignified living as well as make society conscious about social security and justice. – Chumki Datta, Founder, Vriddhi Training and Production Centre/Vice President, National Body for Women Cell of Federation of Disabled Rights
Vriddhi trains & employs disabled people & family member
Chumki’s approach is to train and employ disabled people and their parents, preferably the mother. “This is because some people with intellectual disabilities have behavioural issues and the presence of a familiar person, especially the mother, can help comfort them”, explains Chumki. “This was also a chance to empower women who don’t get such opportunities easily”.
Currently Vriddhi employs 25 people, including family members. The team is well known for making handmade soaps, bakery products, gift items, pickles etc. There are two parallel units – training and production. The training process is continuous, and people are free to join the unit or start their own businesses.
Shambuprasad and Sanjukta joined in 2018. Sanjukta is happy that her son has something productive to do. “It’s a self-help group and the profits made are shared among the disabled youth. Shambuprasad gets about ₹ 2,000 a month. The money is not much but he enjoys himself and has something to do everyday”.
Vriddhi has outlets in many corporate parks. It recently expanded to Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Chennai in partnership with major outlets. The team frequently participates in exhibition programs.
“This invigorates them to be continuously marching in the direction of being economically independent and self-reliant”, says Chumki, who won the President’s Award in 2017 for her efforts.
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