Empowering Lives – DHFL and Samhita

DHFL banner 1

Dewan Housing Finance Ltd ( DHFL ) has been a close partner of Samhita since 2015. Since then, we have worked together on programmes that have spanned cause areas and impacted the lives of more than one lakh beneficiaries. Our work with DHFL has been within three cause areas – Education, Skill Development and Rural Development.

Early Childhood Care and Education – A missed opportunity

As of 2011, only 12 per cent of four and five-year olds in India were in pre-primary school, with another 48 per cent in anganwadi centres under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).  The ICD scheme is designed to provide food, pre-school education, and primary healthcare to children under six years of age, and their mothers. Unfortunately, the scheme has fallen short in addressing the educational needs of children. This has left a significant proportion of children without any pre-school experience, leading to an achievement gap between high-income and low-income students at the primary school level, which is seen to continue into later stages of education.

Of the 100 companies with the largest CSR budgets on the BSE 500 in FY15, 78 had at least one program in education. However, only 13 companies or 17% of the 78 had implemented programs in early childhood education and health in the 3 preceding years.

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) are programs that target the well-being of children below the age of six, with healthcare or early education interventions to prepare them for school.

When DHFL reached out to us to see how we could support them in managing their portfolio projects, they already had existing interventions in education. Through our research, we communicated how valuable and impactful it would be to continue to focus their efforts within the education sector – more specifically ECCE in anganwadis – rather than multiple smaller causes.

We started the project with a base study of the anganwadis: it was seen that the existing infrastructure was in good condition and there was a need to ameliorate the softer interventions such as quality of education, community investment, capacity building of anganwadi workers and so on. With the help of DHFL and expert NGOs like Gram Mangal, Dilasa, Aroehan and SEED, we designed a comprehensive capacity-building program that would enable anganwadi workers and helpers to become educators in Anganwadi centres.

Currently, we work in 2,000 anganwadis in the district of Palghar, having added 900 new anganwadis in the last quarter. Feedback from frontline workers and the government has been positive. A ripple impact of the programme has been the reiteration of the importance of Anganwadi Centres as a hub for child development among communities and within the government.

As of 2017, we have introduced a health and nutrition component to complement the education module. In the next three months, we are replicating this ECCE model in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

Skill Development –  A lifecycle approach  

DHFL’s interest in empowering the common man gave rise to an interest in skill building for India’s youth. Our research into corporate engagement in national skill development was instrumental in designing an impactful programme for DHFL.

Latest numbers have shown that the Indian government is able to train only 3.1 million of 12.8 million entrants into the workforce each year and it is vital that companies step in to close the gap. Companies shape industry demands, set trends and therefore, have a greater understanding of what is needed in various sectors.

Many companies have expressed reluctance to spend money on training as this involves high costs and trainees often leave for higher salaries after training is complete causing companies to lose out on their investment. By including skilling under the CSR mandate, companies that were previously reluctant may be encouraged to contribute to the cause.

With the help of DHFL and our implementation partner SEED, we created a skill development programme – aligned to DHFL’s business goals – for youth within the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) and Construction sectors. Knowing the importance of a life cycle approach, prior to training we mapped the skills and aspirations of the community based on which we conducted trainings. After the trainings, we connected trainees to employment opportunities and followed up with them after employment. These and other innovative aspects of our training bought us recognition from the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), at their ASSOCHAM Summit-cum-Awards.

In the previous financial year, we trained more than 2,000 youths in two centres in Maharashtra. The centres have achieved an impressive 87.5 per cent trainee placement rate, with 95 per cent of trainees continuing in the same job. In the last quarter, we have expanded to Jharkhand, Meghalaya and Assam where we will train an estimated 7,000 youth.

Rural Development – Managing Climate Change Threats

DHFL with our help, adopted 5 drought prone villages – Babhulgaon, Chincholi, Waghola, Nandra and Daregaon in Aurangabad district. In these villages, climate change and successive years of drought had resulted in immense ecological damage including soil erosion, lack of vegetation and reduction in crop yield by 70 per cent. This severely hampered the ability of the villagers to support themselves and their dependents.

DHFL Programme design

To address the ecological problem required a multi-pronged approach that would address the multiple causes and consequences of the ecological damage, as well as its consequent effects on development. With the help of DHFL and our implementation partner Dilasa Janvikas Prathisthan, we designed a 5 pronged programme to tackle this issue.

By instituting interventions within different aspects of watershed management, human development, and livestock management we have so far created 55 cr liter water storage potential.