Like every country in the world, India was hit hard by COVID-19 and the impact on the economy has resulted in a loss of over 21 million salaried jobs and over 30% of those working in the informal sector as daily wage earners. The present situation has put an immense challenge in front of the government and it will take at least two to three years for the country to recover and reach pre-COVID levels. These challenges, especially the lack of employment, have forced many to rethink their options and look at entrepreneurship as the answer to income generation and means to support their livelihood.
With the present challenges, our local partner NICOG has also altered their approach to help women in slum communities in the city of Kolkata. NICOG has been successfully running a beautician training program and has been providing placement to the graduates in salons in the city. Because of COVID-19, most salons have reduced their staff strength and are not in a position to provide employment to new graduates. In this situation, NICOG has altered their program to provide business training along with the present beautician training and is also training the women on providing their services to clients at the comfort and security of their homes with properly sanitized equipment and following health precautions. This program will enable the graduates to adapt to the changes brought about by COVID-19 and equip them to start businesses of their own. We hope that this program will not only provide the graduates with opportunity for livelihood but will also enable them to provide employment for many others in their community.