Wednesday, September 01, 2010

XLRI bakes job idea for mentally challenged

Jamshedpur, Aug. 30(The Telegraph): While on their way to stratospheric pay packets in the global mart, XLRI students have not forgotten to create job opportunities for the less fortunate.

Business management students of the elite B-school have proposed an innovative livelihood solution for mentally challenged students of School of Hope — an idea both tasty and practical — a bakery enterprise unit for sustained income throughout the year.

But why a bakery?

“As a part of our course on organisational behaviour, we tried to develop a sustainable employment model for mentally challenged students. And through our visits to the school, we realised that special students are good at repetitive work. Keeping this in mind, we came up with a few broad employment ideas, including a bakery,” said Akshita Agrawal, a first-year student of Business Management.

Among the various proposals given by the B-school, students and school authorities of the School of Hope zeroed in on the idea of starting a bakery rather than papad-making unit or a nursery as the former could be set up within school premises.

The B-school students will suggest all necessary requirements to start the project.

With an initial investment of around Rs 3.98 lakh, the annual maintenance cost would be Rs 11,500.

With the assumption that a small-scale bakery would need around 6-8 people for back-end preparations and one person at the display counter to assist customers, financial logistics have to be worked out so that each of the nine employees can be paid a salary in the range of Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 per month.

Initially, the start-up bakery would be expected to serve 50 customers per day.

School of Hope principal Shyamala Raju appeared keen to start the project soon.

“About 30 per cent of our 170 students are adults who are in urgent need of employment, but most conventional job openings are closed to them. We are excited about the idea of the bakery because its operations will be simple enough to be managed by them. It is also a financially sustainable proposal, as there is a daily demand in the market for bakery products such as cakes, confectionary and biscuits. The school is willing to invest on the project, train the students to run the bakery as a business venture and employ the trained students. I am eagerly waiting for the proposal drafted by the B-school students,” said the school principal.

For the B-school students, the entire exercise has been a unique experience, because they are working on a live project outside the confines of the classroom.

“Participating in class on organisational behaviour and management is easy, but students now need to move out of class and learn to deploy the principles of teamwork and management in real life. Students were asked to pick up a live project and do something socially useful. The bakery enterprise is their brainchild and they are creating a detailed proposal on it. Other student groups working on various other social projects as well,” said M.G. Jomon, senior XLRI faculty member who teaches organisational behaviour.

The School of Hope already has in place certain vocational training projects such as making candles, rakhis and greeting cards, but these are all seasonal enterprises. For year-round income generation, the school has established a stitching section and a loom, and the bakery will be a welcome addition.

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