LIVELIHOOD GENERATION AND CAPACITY BUILDING
S-ILF is working to change the lives of the leprosy-affected by empowering them to build a sustainable livelihood.
Our Livelihood program is designed to enable people to free themselves from the generational cycle of poverty and stigma. We work with beneficiaries to develop locally relevant and sustainable sources of livelihoods and provide them financial assistance to developing these enterprises. Our activities have evolved over the years and vary depending on the local context in terms of natural resources, skills with the community, aspirations of the people and the opportunities in the local markets. S-ILF supports persons affected by leprosy in building their skills, capacities and assets for leading a life of dignity and security. We also promote women’s entrepreneurship to ensure that women from the colonies are empowered, live in dignity, and their households have secure and resilient lives and livelihoods.
Given the stigma associated with the disease, people and their families once affected by leprosy are generally deprived of opportunities to earn a decent living in a dignified way often depending on begging and donations for their survival. For them, employment or self-employment are not easily forthcoming because of both stigma and lack of skills. Social mindsets need to undergo a major change before we can see people once affected by leprosy being able to work for wages.
Till then self-employment is the way forward.
S-ILF believes that it is important to create opportunities for self-employment, which are on one hand market feasible, sustainable, and profitable, and on the other match the skills and aptitudes of the persons undertaking them. To ensure this, financial support offered by S-ILF goes hand-in-hand with capacity development for sustainable livelihood generation.
Capacity development through training, workshops and exposure visits is essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of the microenterprises. Our aim is to strengthen the technical skills and morale of the grantees so that they can within a short period of time sustain their enterprises on their own. This is achieved through microenterprise development training, business orientation workshops, enterprise formulation, bookkeeping, customized training and fostering on marketing linkages, providing constant guidance through mentorship and finally by monitoring closely to ensure progressive and productive livelihood.
Financial assistance is provided directly into their bank accounts cutting off thereby all intermediaries and facilitating banking practices.
Funding is staggered and disbursement is based on achievement of milestones. As a result, together with the active participation of mentors and the beneficiaries, S-ILF is deeply involved in inculcating a dignified sense of ownership and accountability among the beneficiaries, towards their livelihood projects.
Taking into account the previously approved grants, S-ILF has till today worked on a total of 191 approved projects reaching out to 170 leprosy colonies in 18 states across the country positively impacting more than 1,800 leprosy-affected families.
Due to the stigma associated with the disease, the people affected by leprosy cannot readily access opportunities to improve their economic and social well being. Low acceptance in society makes it difficult for them to find formal or informal wage-based employment. The need to depend on begging, alms and donations for meeting their basic needs not only erodes their dignity and self-confidence, it makes the transition into self-employment a risky and difficult proposition.
S-ILF thus focuses on economic empowerment by not only providing financial assistance for sustainable livelihood generation but also invests in leadership and capacity building, technical project related training as well as providing mentorship support to the leprosy-affected people in their efforts at self-employment.
SUPPORTING OUR BENEFICIARIES THROUGH training
For the success of the project, it is important that the beneficiaries develop and take full ownership of the projects proposed by them. To equip them to develop proposals and handle the projects on their own, S-ILF conducts training at different stages of the project and continues to mentor them as and when needed.
TRAINING FOR SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHANGE (TSEC)
Training for Socio-Economic Change (TSEC) is the first training the colony community attends in the process of developing their livelihood projects. Its aim is to orient the people on the need for socio-economic change. The primary focus is on microenterprise development training and developing viable livelihood proposals.
STAKEHOLDERS ORIENTATION WORKSHOPS (SOWS)
The beneficiaries of the projects that are approved for funding are then provided with a training on S-ILF’s funding mechanisms, financial management, roles and responsibilities, marketing etc., for the sustainability of the enterprise. They are also initiated in S-ILF’s livelihood programs, entrepreneurship, good practices, livestock management, finalizing action plans and business plans.
In the TSECs, the participants learnt different aspects of developing a business proposal like market research, identification of viable livelihood options, marketing, costing, pricing, and sales projection through classroom sessions. The participants enthusiastically participated in the sessions.
On completion of this training, the participants submitted their proposals for which they conducted market feasibility with the help of S-ILF’s local NGO partners. This ensures that the projects are selected by the proposal owners themselves and that they have the rudimentary understanding of the requirements of the projects they want to undertake.
Discussions and interactive sessions during the workshop enabled the beneficiaries to learn how to develop their microenterprise. One major outcome of such training was that they overcame the fear of speaking in the public, which proved to be an effective way of building confidence. The beneficiaries also shared their learnings during the training and registered their involvement in all the activities.
The beneficiaries showed keen interest especially in assignments which required a greater level of involvement, focused discussion and group activity such as – SWOT analysis, prioritizing, planning and budget development and business plan development.
TRAINING AND EXPOSURE (TAE) MEETINGS
Training and Exposure meetings provide specific training to the beneficiaries following project approval.
The State level meetings are organized with the objective of providing a platform for the beneficiaries of the enterprises to share their experiences, present success and conduct discussions to find viable solutions to the challenges faced by them in running their livelihood enterprises.
MICROENTERPRISE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT (MELD)
MELD meetings are aimed at bringing out and developing leadership qualities in the beneficiaries who need added support to scale up their enterprise. The first MELD in 2014-2015 was conducted in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh for four colonies in April 2014. The second one was conducted in Bihar in Dec 2014. The third one was conducted in Andhra Pradesh in November 2014, the 4th MELD was in West Bengal in January 2015 and the 5th MELD was conducted in Tamil Nadu in February 2015.
In addition, community-level meetings were organized by S-ILF and mentor organizations in the central and northeast region of Jharkhand in June 2014. The meeting was followed by a two-day workshop in Ranchi with the Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs) practising in the tribal areas. Fourteen RMPs and three NGOs participated in the workshop.