Scottish Government supporting innovation in business development for adolescent girls in Madhya Pradesh

EDINBURGH UK, 04 March 2015 – Youth Economic Justice (YEJ) has been awarded  a grant from the Scottish Government to conduct a feasibility study in Madhya Pradesh, India, to explore potential  viable enterprise development  for adolescent tribal girls in the area.

Building upon a previous study carried out by YEJ, the International Small Grant by the Scottish Government will enable YEJ to undertake a rapid market analysis to ascertain the commercial viability of identified collective enterprises and develop businesses plans to ensure decent waged employment of young adolescent girls and reduce the risk of exploitation. Humza Youaf MSP, Minister for International Development and Europe said, “Creating new employment is an important part of tackling poverty.  This study will build on previous work of Youth Economic Justice and investigate further opportunities for the women of Madhya Pradesh, India.” The £10,000 feasibility grant will contribute to the costs of the study, which will be carried out in early to mid-2015. The detailed report will be then available in August 2015.

YEJ’s initial research was carried out alongside its partner in Madhya Pradesh, Social Action Ministry (SAM) who works with Tribal communities, one of the most marginalised groups in Indian society.  It found that the adolescent young women would greatly benefit from enterprise development.  This would enable them to earn a decent wage and raise their self-esteem and status in the community.  As a result this will prevent many of these girls from taking up precarious or vulnerable activities that provide low income and little security that has left them open to exploitation and abuse.

Garratola, Madhya Pradesh, is characterised by poverty where many of the young women from the Tribal community, lack the necessary skills and confidence to effectively engage in the formal market economy in order to relieve their dire economic situation.  In a community where 28% of the women have never been to school and only 22% have a primary school level education, the lack of education and vocational skills development contributes to their difficulty in finding gainful employment. The situation of these young women is further exacerbated by their social vulnerability, where early and forced marriage are the norm and risk and fear of violence including rape limits their freedom of movement.

Despite this, the young women are eager to engage with projects that would improve their families’ economic well-being and give them dignity. The previous study has already identified the need to upscale some existing income generating projects into viable enterprises through expanding market links and improving product quality.  Based on consultation with a variety of stakeholders, including many of the young women, enterprise development  in the areas of aquaculture, goat production and food processing will be analysed for their viability and a needs assessment undertake to ascertain the required skills the young women will need to effectively run their own collective businesses.

Young people have been adversely affected by the global financial collapse, because their inexperience and lack of networks puts them at a disadvantage.  As a result more young adults are neither working nor studying.  This is a catastrophe in places like South Asia, where the population of young people is rapidly growing, according to the World Bank. Groups like the tribal adolescent girls in Madhya Pradesh live in the one of poorest states in India, which is why it is crucial that the outcome of the upcoming study helps to understand challenges faced by this group, whether be it unemployment or to bring innovative solutions to the way local partners approach the planning and delivery of enterprise development programmes.