Gayathri hails from Kolar, a district in Karnataka over 60 km away from Bengaluru. She lost her father when she was a child and was raised by her mother. In her early twenties now, she joined Gurukul — a skill-development programme run by a Bengaluru-based non-profit startup, The Nudge Foundation. A few days into the programme, her mother fell sick and Gayathri had to return home. The trainers at Gurukul were sure she wouldn’t come back. Although her mother passed away, she was not ready to give up. A few days later, Cyril Joseph, a trainer at Gurukul, got a call from the girl stating she wished to rejoin Gurukul.
Gayathri hasn’t received adequate schooling, but today, she is a sales management student and dreams of becoming an accountant someday. Gayathri is one of the many dreamers, for whom Nudge was a blessing in disguise. “Every student here, has a heart-warming story,” Joseph says. His team helps them put their hardships behind, and move on in life by giving them a gentle push — a nudge.
The poverty alleviation non-profit was Atul Satija’s brainchild who spent the first 18 years of his career working for companies like Infosys, Samsung, Adobe, Google and InMobi. With an aim to put a million people out of poverty sustainably, Nudge has been a home, a school and a platform for around 1,100 students since 2015. It includes two major programmes — Gurukul and N/Core. Gurukul is a 100-day long fully residential programme, which offers students training in sales management, data entry, beauty services, plumbing and driving. On the other hand, N/Core looks at incubating non-profit startups.
All the right skills
Gurukul was born out of the team’s understanding that many of the skilling programmes in India were shallow. “India is adding nearly a million people to the labour market every single month, that means 12 million people a year. In the next 15 years we would be adding 180 million people — that is half the population of the US and almost twice that of Japan. Fifty percent of them are school dropouts, 23-25% of them come from extremely poor backgrounds and a vast majority is unemployable,” Satija explains the scale of the problem.