During a recent visit to Panchkula, Haryana, located in northern India, we had the pleasure of meeting 22-year-old Jyoti, a budding entrepreneur and clothing designer. Jyoti dropped out of high school after completing her 8th standard, as her father lost his vision and suddenly had to rely on the income from his children. She supported her family during this challenging time; however, given her limited education level and social restrictions preventing her from traveling beyond her village, she opted to stay home rather than look for a job. In India, about 37 percent of youth between the ages of 15 and 29 entered the workforce during 2021 and 2022, according to findings from the Periodic Labour Force Survey. However, many young women like Jyoti are left out of India’s growing workforce due to limited education, lack of skills, and social restrictions.

Jyoti looking at her phone and using edtech app

Three years had passed since she left school when Jyoti learned about Udhyam Learning Foundation and its work with government-run Industrial Training Institutes (ITI). Udhyam offers students the opportunity to learn trade skills and foster an entrepreneurial mindset, equipping them with the skills to turn their trade into a business. Encouraged by her parents and three brothers, Jyoti decided to pursue tailoring courses at Udhyam and learn to design and sew clothing. With instruction from Udhyam, she also built the soft skills necessary to become a successful entrepreneur, enabling her to turn her passion for sewing into a successful business.

Now, she runs her own tailoring business from home, assisted by her cousin, aunt, and mother. Every day, she wakes at 6:30 to clean her sewing machine and begin her projects for the day. She visits a local boutique run by another family member where she sells her designs, which include wedding dresses and traditional garments like lehnga choli for Indian festivals.

Jyoti sewing using her electric sewing machine

In-person training meets online education

To address the gap in skilling for young Indians like Jyoti and shape their financial behavior and capabilities, Accion partnered with Udhyam Shiksha to bring Ovante — an edtech program created by Accion and supported by FedEx — to 120 entrepreneurs as a part of Udhyam’s entrepreneurship module. Students in these courses develop an entrepreneurial mindset, gain leadership experience, and practice public speaking and other business skills. As a digital complement to Udhyam’s in-person training, the Ovante program gives students an added boost of confidence in using digital tools for their business needs.

Through Ovante, Jyoti learned how to position her business with her growing customers, increase her productivity by planning her day, and budget her cashflows in order to save enough to open a shop in the nearby market. She completed Ovante’s courses online on her smartphone via the Ovante app, available in Hindi, English, and Marathi. She also uses her smartphone to research design styles and tutorials, manage digital payments on Google Pay, promote her business, and take orders from customers on WhatsApp. Ovante’s digital content complemented Udhyam’s offline and in-person approach, allowing Jyoti and her peers to learn on the go during their spare time.

The power of $100

In addition to the training courses, Accion and Udhyam offered students access to a small grant to help them kickstart their entrepreneurial journeys. Jyoti received $100 from Accion and Udhyam, which gave her the capital she needed to purchase an automatic sewing machine that not only allows her to be more efficient with her time, but also produce finer finishes to her clothes than her previous manual machine. Along with her courses on Ovante, this also built in her the confidence she needed to dream big. Jyoti plans to open her own store one day, called Jyoti’s Boutique, and has already started scouting for shop locations to rent in the nearby village square and calculated how many months it would take for her to save up for her down payment. With a small amount of capital, entrepreneurs like Jyoti can put their business on a path to success.

Jyoti is an inspiration to her family and neighborhood girls who also want to learn from her and support their families. Learn more about Accion’s capacity-building programs and read how we use edtech to enable young entrepreneurs to strengthen their businesses and livelihoods.

group photo in front of stores
Accion Advisory team members visit Jyoti in Panchkula, where she sells her designs. 

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