Mrida provides consulting and implementation of end-to-end solutions for integrated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives for leading corporate houses. The IL&FS MPowered Village at TahTajpur is the first such initiative undertaken on behalf of the Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd.
Mrida conducted a household level BaseLine Survey, covering all 110 households in this un-electrified village in Bareilly District of Uttar Pradesh, to understand their needs and arrive at the interventions that would have maximum impact. The concept of the IL&FS MPowered Village arose from this survey.
DC Solar Microgrids
TahTajpur today boasts of three 240 Watt DC Micro grids powering many of its households, with energy efficient LED bulbs and mobile charging facilities – lighting rural lives, facilitating education, allowing extended working hours for livelihood and income generation, and so on.
The First Mrida E-Hub
An innovative solar powered package of education, entertainment and e-Commerce facilities under one roof, was set up at Tahtajpur. At its core are a LED nano-projector, multimedia technologies and software for education and entertainment. A laptop computer with an internet connection, and a colour printer complete the package. The E-Hub is housed in a room appropriately furnished with work benches, seating arrangements, and boards. It has LED Lights and fans, all powered by solar. The E-Hub is operated by a Village Level Entrepreneur, carefully selected and suitably trained by Mrida to run the entire setup as a business venture, which generates a livelihood and income for him, while providing facilities for advancement and upliftment of the rest of the village.
Sanitation Drive in TahTajpur
Open defecation was a major challenge in the village; with only 30% households with their own toilets. Another 40 toilets were mapped and built/renovated, with villagers contributing a token amount, and IL&FS Group CSR funds providing the rest. Training workshops were conducted to create awareness and ensure proper utilization and maintenance of the toilets. The results have been encouraging, and the plan is to progressively extend this to cover the entire village over time. As per a survey, villagers are using these toilets and maintaining them well.
To move TahTajpur to the next level, the support of the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) has been enlisted to provide a range of agriculture, livelihood and income enhancement activities aimed at increasing household incomes and hence, the ‘Village GDP’. The VDC, local farmers’ group, youth and women will all be involved in order to broad-base the initiative. Finally, market linkages will be created to complete the supply chain.
Initiatives like soil testing, farmer counselling, bee keeping, mushroom and vegetable cultivation, agricultural yield improvement, etc, are being undertaken. Training is being conducted, at the KVK and in the village, to identify and train the villagers and guide them on various activities. To facilitate proper irrigation and improve productivity, a detailed study of irrigation practices has been carried out, and it is proposed to install better irrigation facilities in the village, including solar irrigation pump sets, in the near future. A detailed agriculture baseline survey has been conducted in villages TahTajpur, Urla Jagir & Faridapur Inayat Khan under the guidance of KVK and this will be extremely useful for carrying out all the above initiatives.
As a part of intervention, two drip irrigation systems have been installed in Village TahTajpur and Village Faridapur Inayat Khan. These initiatives are opening up whole new possibilities for the villagers so that they can create a better tomorrow for themselves.
Our Stitching Center Initiative, Village TahTajpur & Village Faridapur, Bareilly
The Stitching Center – where trained professionals teach groups of interested women folk, young and old. After a 6 month practical-cum-theoretical program, selected trainees will be provided with financial and market access support to start their own small stitching and tailoring businesses.
The support of a local NGO was utilized to organize basic stitching classes for local girls/womenfolk, as part of a skill development and livelihood initiative. Selected and interested participants in this group were also offered advanced training inputs and certification programs. The advanced training resulted in students forming a group of 8 girls for a full-fledged stitching center, M/S Raj Laxmi in Village TahTajpur. This stitching center caters to the requirement of Village TahTajpur and other villages in vicinity. An initial order for 120 sets of children’s uniforms has already been procured and executed through this center. Further, Team Mrida and IL&FS are also helping these girls to get bulk orders from offices and schools. This provides opportunity not only for livelihood and income enhancement, but also for women empowerment. Another stitching center in nearby Village Faridapur Inayat Khan is under process, where a group of 35 girls and women are trained for Level 1 stitching and further. The participants, after an internal selection process can undertake advanced stitching program and run this stitching center in their village. Moving forward, the objective is to create a group of women entrepreneurs in the village, and support them by way of market linkages – dresses, school uniforms, uniforms for corporate entities, and so on. This initiative has stitched together a happy smile for the girls and women of this village.
While IL&FS provides the initial funding, and Mrida the overall coordination, nothing comes free for the villagers. Every product and service is paid for, and entrepreneurship activities are actively encouraged and supported. Revenues from all resulting activities go into the Village Development Fund, where they are pumped back into the ongoing virtuous circles of learning, engagement, development and prosperity.
Village Development Committee (VDC)
An integral component of the MPowered Village is the Village Development Committee (VDC), a motivated, enthusiastic group of villagers – the Leadership Team of the future – selected and trained by IL&FS and Mrida. The VDC oversees all development activities in the village, including selection of VLEs, organizing various activities and initiatives, collecting the proceeds, managing funds, and so on. Mrida initially provides extensive training, guidance and support, with the expectation that the VDC will progressively take full charge of the entire initiative, thereby making it self-sustaining, Mrida and IL&FS, on their part, plan to scale up the initiative to establish many more MPowered Villages across the country.