Chinmay Jain is the Cluster Coordinator at Ambuja Cement Foundation (ACF)
and has been instrumental in driving ACF’s partnership with Hindustan Zinc
Limited (HZL) on the ground in Rajasthan.
Built on a foundation of trust, the collaborative partnership is
producing outstanding results in the area of skill development in remote
pockets around Udaipur, and is now set to make waves in the area of Water
Conservation, as the partnership expands. Chinmay shares the journey, key
challenges and the bright future ahead.
The rural and remote areas of Rajasthan have been witness to the mining activities of Hindustan Zinc Limited for more than 35 years now. During this time, they recognized the severe issue of unemployment prevalent among youth in these areas, with the primary culprit of this unemployment, being a lack of skills.
To address the issue, Hindustan Zinc Ltd joined hands with ACF under a 5 year partnership to establish Skill & Entrepreneurship Development Institutes (SEDI) in Dariba (Rajsamand) and Agoocha (Bhilwara) in Rajasthan. With a 14 year history of addressing skill development ACF’s SEDI is at the forefront of providing training and employment employment opportunities in rural areas. Acting as the implementing partners, ACF got to work targeting local unemployed youth who are less literate, and have lost, or never received an opportunity to further their studies.
Developmental challenges are often complex and can never be tackled via sole efforts. Often partnerships can add value and bring more synergy to tackle the problem - by pooling resources, skillsets and ideas, two ‘giants’ came together in this regard to make an impact.
And that is exactly what happened in the first year of implementation – with results in both training and placement. Whilst the initial training target was to reach 680 youth in total, ACF managed to train 723 youth of the community and achieve a record placement percentage of 89%.
In the second year of the partnership, ACF faced a real challenge - COVID-19! However even this did not stop progress, with the team ‘unstoppable’ as they transitioned to digital modes of instruction and started training online. A COVID-19 volunteer program was also launched to incorporate volunteerism values among trainees, and prepare volunteers to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, 273 trainees took to the field, working as ‘Covid Warriors’ in the community.
Secrets of Success in Partnerships
The partnership of HZL & ACF has seen a whopping 2500 youth trained in Rajasthan in just 3 years.
So, what makes a partnership between 2 large corporate CSR teams ‘work’? ‘Ethics’ are first and foremost, central to the success of things. However there are a number of other essential qualities that those hoping to foster strong, collaborative partnerships in the future should embrace:
Ø Quality – There is a need to emphasise ‘quality’ and foster that culture in everything that you do. After all, investors want to see quality and results in their programs.
Ø Transparency – Implementing agencies should always emphasise strong and clean financial reporting, thereby ensuring the proper utilization of allocated funds spent on the project.
Ø A Team of Experts – There is a need to engage a highly professional, skilled and dedicated team of experts who look after the proper execution of a project. People are your greatest asset in development work.
Ø Strong Reporting – A strong system of monitoring, evaluation and reporting that effectively & qualitatively documents the progress of developmental interventions effectively, is a must.
All these points lead to trust building between partners, which leads to the multiplicity and expansion of projects.
Expanding the Partnership
With success in ‘Skilling’ well underway, together, the two partners have been exploring other thrust areas to collaborate in, and plans are being drawn up to initiate work together in Water Conservation – a key issue facing the country in general & that region in particular
Cluster Coordinator, SEDI, ACF