From Local to Global and The Quantum of Rajasthan are two case studies taught at Lovely Professional University in Punjab, JK Laxmipat in Rajasthan, and the Institute of Business Management and Research in Madhya Pradesh.
The subjects of these studies, registered with the Case Study Society of India, is Shipra Bhutani, Director of Quantum Career Academy, whose story as a professor-entrepreneur is quite engrossing.
Shipra’s entrepreneurial journey began with the usual questions people ask women who want to step away from the ‘normal’. From suggesting that she stick to a woman-friendly venture like a salon or a boutique to asking she wanted a loan in the first place, she has been asked it all.
But Shipra wanted to start a skilling centre to impart vocational training to women and help them be financially independent. Her mantra is straight and simple and somewhat her life’s story too: “If you are educated and have a job, take some time out to empower another woman who is at a weaker position than you.”
She learnt to value education very early in life when she lost her father at the age of ten. As a BITS Pilani graduate and an Economics and Business lecturer at BIT Mesra, Jaipur, Shipra decided to use her privilege to develop opportunities for others who have it tougher than her.
Today, Shipra looks after 40 Quantum Career Academy centres and her venture has helped more than 20,000 women who are prisoners, war widows, sex workers, and manual scavengers, etc.
There’s more to life than your past
Shipra noted that women prisoners are at a more vulnerable position as they are often abandoned by their families. On top of imparting vocational training sessions to become beauticians, cooks, as well as learning how to make bamboo and paper-based products, she came up with an e-commerce platform called Aashayein, The Jail Shop, where women prisoners can sell their handmade products to earn some money.
The entrepreneur, now the chairperson of three industrial training institutes, aims to provide dignity with labour and show that there is more to their lives than their past.
“I wanted to tell these women that they are the masters of their destiny and their future, and this can be made possible only through education,” said Shipra, who is also a member of the Rajasthan State Council and Education Panel of Confederation of Indian Industries.
At the academy, run in partnership with the National Skills Development Corporation of the Government of India, training is provided across electronics, electrical, handicrafts, mining, and apparel, with participation from around 6,500 women annually.
Besides, she also extends employment opportunities to rural youth in Jaipur, who learn English and other industry-specific skills for three months and are then connected to retail stores and MSMEs in the city for work.
Shipra believes that skilling is an art that has endless potential and can be earned only with hard work and practice.
Heart of a Social Entrepreneur
Shipra wasn’t actively seeking entrepreneurship but was looking for a way to fill a social gap. The first scope arose when she noticed that while many of her students graduated, they rarely get employed in their field of studies.
This is because industries have very different demands than what one learns at college. Soon, Shipra set up a skill enhancement centre for students to familiarise themselves with industry trends. This included classes on cloud computing, web designing, and digital marketing, and students would receive a certificate upon completing a course.
One thing led to another. Now, her latest venture is a mobile app SkillconnectIndia, which matches skilled manpower with industries. Launched in 2016, it now has a mine of data of around 50 lakh individuals from the government of Rajasthan.
Once someone downloads and registers as a potential employer, they gain access to the large set of skilled candidates from government-certified training institutes and skill centres.
The businesswoman takes inspiration from the likes of Ratan Tata, Dhirubhai Ambani, and Aditya Birla.
According to her, no profession can reward you like being an entrepreneur, especially if it’s for social good.