The last 2 years have been difficult for India because of the impact of COVID-19 and related economic challenges. During this time, India’s GDP fell by over 24.4% and the unemployment rate rose to 20.9%. However, the country is now in recovery mode and is expected to reach pre-COVID-19 levels of growth by the end of March 2023.
Even though the economy is growing, the unemployment rate is still at a high of 8%--which for a country with 1.4 billion people is a great challenge. During this time, the government is pushing infrastructure spending and is also taking some additional measures to promote businesses, making this a great opportunity for new businesses to start and establish themselves.
Partners Worldwide South Asia and our partners in India have been actively supporting our business network through the challenges introduced by COVID-19 and we are continuing our efforts to ensure that our members and partners are also able to take advantage of this recovering economy. We are being intentional about how we act now as the next two to three years are expected to be challenging. However, they are also filled with opportunities for India and can bring back the employment and economic opportunities that we lost as a country.
Our partner Kiran Social Enterprise has been working with a few tribal communities in the State of West Bengal for a few years now. They have been trying to look for alternate sources of engagement for the community members as the only opportunity present in that area is farming and most of the young people from the community are forced to move to already overcrowded cities in search of work. Kiran realized the focus of infrastructure development of the government, which has also resulted in expansion of nearby cities like Kolkata and Kharagpur, and this has increased the demand for construction material. Kiran has now started a brick-making training program for young people from the tribal community to meet the increasing market demand and is planning to run it as a business. They have already received multiple orders for their bricks and are already able to engage five young people in the business! They are hoping to expand and grow the business by mechanizing parts of the process like using mixers and hydraulic compressors to increase the quality of the product and the efficiency of the process.
This project has the potential to create more employment for the local youth and also to help Kiran move further towards operational sustainability as it serves local communities in Kolkata and Medinipur.