AEA’s iLEAD programme helps youth become resilient


Initiated in 2005, Aide et Action’s skill development initiative, iLEAD has trained over 2,45,000 youths across India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Philippines. On World Youth Skills Day 2020, we bring to you resilient stories of three young women from India who with the support of iLEAD, challenged poverty and gender stereotypes to make a mark in their professional careers.

All about nuts and bolts

Satrupa completed her class-XII and, got married into a joint family. She always wanted to contribute to the family’s income. Inspired by her father-in-law – who was a motor mechanic – and her curiosity towards nuts and bolts, she too aspired to become a motor mechanic – a profession unconventional for a woman to choose in India. “My father-in-law, who passed away after I got married, always wanted to open a garage but in vain. I decided to fulfill his dream. I enrolled myself in the automobile course at Initiative for Livelihood Education and Development (iLEAD),” she says. 

In the 75-day comprehensive training programme, Satrupa learned to spotting problems, servicing vehicles, and many more. Moreover, she also received training in basic computer education, spoken English, and a few sessions on personality development. This decision to take the course from iLEAD made her unstoppable. 

Soon after completing the course, she started her career as an assistant supervisor at a car care unit in Bilaspur, Chattisgarh. Later, she was shifted to the technical support unit where she was responsible for diagnosing problems in vehicles and servicing two-wheelers. Noticing her hard work and determination, iLEAD encouraged Satrupa to open a new garage which was thankfully accepted. “I accepted the offer, prepared a business proposal, started to look for a place for my garage. The setup, from branding to toolkits and other equipment, was in place. The iLEAD team was always there to guide me, be it account handling or maintaining the stock register. Now I have been successfully running iGarage for one year and also training youth from neighboring villages,” she says.  

Typically, Satrupa’s day begins at 8 am and involves interacting with customers, attending to their complaints, and repairing two-wheelers. “I am lucky to receive support from my family and well-wishers. It took me some time to gain the confidence of people as they had never thought that a woman could also do such tasks, which are usually done by men. My husband has been my biggest support; he also helps me in managing my enterprise now,” Satrupa says. 

The young entrepreneur has also been able to help her family in many ways. “We used to live in a kuccha house. Now, we are constructing a pakka house. All this is possible because of iLEAD,” she says. She earns around INR 10,000-12,000 a month which, she says, is much more than a conventional job would have offered her. 

Balasuk gives the right strokes to her dream

Poverty forced Balasuk to discontinue her studies after completing Class-VII. At the age of 11, she tried hard to find a job so that she could support her family in whatever way possible. A few years later, Balasuk tried to enroll in a private institute to learn a beautician course. This attempt too was short-lived as the institutes demanded exorbitant fees. At this time, she came to know about iLEAD skill training centre. She immediately visited the centre in Shillong and enrolled for the beautician course. Three months past, Balasuk was sent for on-job training at a parlor in Rynjah in Shillong. There was no turning back for Balasuk as she earned her first job in the same parlor with a salary of INR 800 per month.  

Even though the salary was less, it never stopped her from doing what she loves the most. She knew she had to master the strokes to earn name and decent salary.  In two years, Balasuk got a raise of INR 1,800. Her salary is now INR 2,600. Her ease at job also made the owner entrusted her with the responsibility of managing the parlor. Gradually, Balasuk realized that she was ready to open her parlor. But due to lack of monetary resources, she could not pursue that. At this time, she came to know of the financial grant that iLEAD was providing to help trained skill youth start up their ventures. She immediately applied for the loan. Now Balasuk is a proud owner of “Bala Beauty Parlour” at Pohktieh, Shillong. She is now earning INR 21,000 per month.

“I am very thankful to iLEAD for transforming my life immensely from just being a school drop out to becoming a successful entrepreneur. I can never imagine that iLEAD could make me what I am today. Now I can support the education of my younger brother and sisters,” says a smiling Bala.

Chief Minister recognizes Sonu’s selfless services

In an endeavor to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19, a 28-year-old woman is stitching masks and distributing them for free. Hailing from Mavli village in the Panchawati circle of Udaipur, 28-year-old Sonu Gurjar had received a stitching course under the Initiative for Livelihood Education and Development (iLEAD) programme conducted by Aide et Action.

 “I found that there is a shortage of masks in our neighborhood. Since I know how to stitch, I began stitching the masks at home and distributing them free of cost among the needy. I am thankful to iLEAD programme of Aide et Action for honing my stitching skills as well as my village Sarpanch who arranged the cloth for making masks,” Sonu Gurjar said.

Sonu stitches 50 masks daily with the support of mother Kesar Devi Gurjar and sister-in-law Poornima Badgurjar. They are also distributing the masks in the nearby residential areas and at check posts. 

Recognizing her selfless efforts during this pandemic, Honourable Chief Minister of Rajasthan Shri Ashok Gehlot took to Twitter to appreciate her.