Meet Vikash Das, who left his high-paying job at IBM to help tribals become social entrepreneurs in India

In 2014, Vikash Das, who is a social entrepreneur now, upset his parents as he left a high-profile job at IBM. With a Master’s degree in software engineering, Vikash was not meant to settle down in a four-walled office environment.

Even as he was making big bucks at IBM, his heart yearned to do something for the tribal community in India. At a time when people at his age are focussed on career making and launching their startups, Vikash wanted to become a social entrepreneur and enable the tribal communities in eastern India as well.

One of the subjects that was close to him was social discrimination. He was always concerned about the unequal treatment met out to the tribal community which led him to start his own venture-Vat Vrikshya- at the age of 25.

Vikash at the age of 25 wanted to nurture entrepreneurship among tribals, especially, women in rural India. Vat Vrikshya is a social enterprise, which aims to improve the quality of life of tribal communities through entrepreneurship

In 2014, Vikash quit his job and led a life of poor in tribal hamlets for two months.

With Vat Vrikshya, he focused primarily on creating alternative means of earning for tribal communities to ensure that families receive basic needs.

Challenges

Vikash’s family and friends were quite upset as he left high paying job and settled down in a remote village. But they gave in once they understood his vision and social venture.

However, the toughest part was to convince tribal community to be a part of his dream.

How do they do it

Vikash and his 78-member team risk their lives and work in tribal areas, even in Maoist-affected areas. They spread social entrepreneurship and are not deterred by several threats by Maoists.

Vat Vrikshya follows four steps for development of tribal communities-research, network, educate and marketing and transparency. They begin their work by understanding the tribe’s culture, problems, community’s needs, interest and expertise, and then perform a SWOT analysis to figure out what they can offer them.

Tribal women are connected with role models, such as successful women entrepreneurs from other tribal villages, enabling the creation of a market network between different tribal villages, towns and cities. Vocational training is given to tribal women based on their expertise and areas of interest. The enterprise identifies market needs by interviewing potential customers about the requirements.

Results

They have increased family incomes by 300% on an average and have successfully conducted hundreds of training programmes in remote areas.

They are promoted agro-rural tourism, revived tribal handicrafts, gave a brand identity, promoted 570 entrepreneurs in different non-farming activities

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