Report by Badal Tah, Rayagada : Utkal Alumina International Limited(UAIL), a subsidiary of Hindalco Industries Limited of Aditya Birla Group has always been gender centric in promoting business women and women entrepreneurs in its peripheral villages inhabited by ultra-poor communities facing social and economic exclusion. The business models introduced by its CSR head Dr. Lopamudra Priyadarshini has been keeping pace with needs and aspirations of the communities around the company. Lopamudra, a competent motivator herself, also heads the company’s Community Relations & Sustainable wing thus being sensitive to the felt needs of the communities and looking into the sustainability, scalability and replicability of the entrepreneurial initiatives. Lopamudra has been able to facilitate a process through with a gender equilibrium reigns in the area amidst a man’s world.
One such unique and innovative project of UAIL called “UDYAMEE”, has been recently awarded along with its five promoted women entrepreneurs during 2nd National Conclave on Financing Women Entrepreneurs organized by Odisha Corporate Foundation(OCF) at Bhubaneswar. To promote 300 youth entrepreneurs from Kashipur Block of Rayagada and Thuamul Rampur Block of Kalahandi in non-farm and agri-allied sector Utkal Alumina has partnered with EDII (Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India) and launched project UDYAMEE at Tikiri, Kashipur, Rayagada. The award was conferred for the unique corporate project which is focused to promote women entrepreneurship.
Shri Tusharkanti Behera, Minister of Electronics & Information Technology, Sports & Youth Services inaugurated the programme and highlighted the role of corporates in strengthening women entrepreneurship ecosystem. Shri Hemant Sharma, IAS, Principal Secretary, Industry Department mentioned the partnership model of intervention of UAIL and EDII for strengthening entrepreneurship model in Odisha. Sharma also cited the best practices of systematic and convergence approach of Project UDYAMEE to promote entrepreneurs in rural and tribal areas. Sharma resounded on scalability of Project UDYMAEE model across Odisha.
Post-Inaugural session both Behera & Sharma personally interacted with the winner entrepreneurs and Lopamudra to understand the Project UDYAMEE’s Model and its impact at community level. Sharma talked to the Project UDYAMEE team and entrepreneurs and highly motivated the team for the effort made for the local area’s economic development.
Five successful women entrepreneurs namely Jashoda Jhodia (Sleeper Making Unit), Tikiri, Pramila Naik (Tailoring Services), Dangasil, Sanjukta Khora (Phenyl Making Unit), Tikiri, Sarojini Majhi (Puffed rice unit), Chandragiri, Aparajita Naik (Refreshment shop), Adri, Kalahandi received the awards from the Chief Guest of the occasion.
The deliberation by Lopamudra on project objective, approach and model in pursuance of creating an entrepreneurial doctrine in this region was highly appreciated by the forum. Women Entrepreneurs from project UDYAMEE also shared their entrepreneurial journey and expressed their heartfelt gratitude and thanks to the OCF and Government of Odisha for the recognition with awards. These awards has given a great impetus to celebrate the womanhood in a hinterland like Kashipur during Raja festival.
Quoting on Project UDYAMEE, the Unit Head of Utkal Alumina Mr. Mazhar Beig, a visionary of such pro-people initiatives in the area, expressed his intent that UDYAMEE should act as gleaming beacon of light in the Entrepreneurship Development and should set a benchmark for others to follow. Dr. Subrata Kumar Biswal, Regional Head, EDII and Mr. Kusala Chandra Behera, Project Leader, Project UDYAMEE were among the dignitaries joined the occasion along with the team.