Every achievement has a hidden story which can be as fascinating and thrilling as the success element inbuilt in it. UNNATI’s story is very similar. UNNATI is all about bringing a social transformation in the society by equipping the underprivileged youth by providing employment. It is about creating socially conscious citizens through value education, thereby enabling the youth to stand tall.
As the story goes, UNNATI as an idea was pitched by a few well-meaning individuals who were looking for answers to 3 pertinent questions which would change a lot of things for the youth and subsequently his/her family, the community and eventually the Nation!
The journey of SGBS Trust started as early as 1978 in a small way but gained significance around the mid-80s when it started three focussed programs, namely Shiksha, Utsav, and Funeral services.
The popularity of the organisation grew rapidly in the 90s because of its cultural and social activities creating a huge impact on society. The learnings from the Shiksha program clearly showed that many of the children who were supported, dropped out of school before completion of their secondary education. This triggered the thought within the group to create a program which will ensure that these youth are gainfully employed, thus closing the loop.
Unnati was thus initiated as a training cum social transformation program for the underprivileged youth who were less educated and unemployed. The initial thought while starting, was to train around a hundred youth every year and get them jobs. The program was started in a 2-bedroom house in Indiranagar, Bangalore. The first five years saw us train around 320 youths but we soon realised the power and impact of the program.
The year 2008 was momentous as we brought up the 22000 sqft UNNATI Centre on a Govt. CA site allotted to us near Byppanahalli Metro, NGEF Layout, Sadanandanagar, Bangalore-38. The idea of making the Centre so posh was to ensure that it inspires the underprivileged youth to feel proud of getting trained in such a facility. It was conceptualised to be an IIM for the poor. The number of youth trained started steadily increasing and very quickly we were doing over 600 youths per year. During this period, we had ensured that all our processes and curriculum were standardised with a futuristic approach of scaling up.
In the year 2011, SGBS UNNATI Foundation, a section 8 company (Not-For-Profit) was formed to scale the operations of the Unnati program and take it to many more centres across the country. The initial idea was to hand over the entire process and content and train the participating NGO to establish a centre and replicate. We realised that this model had its own drawbacks and to make it effective we had to drive the program ourselves.
The year 2014 -15 was path-breaking in the sense that Axis Bank Foundation came forward to help us (Over the next 3 years) with almost 12 crore funding to scale up. A lot of effort went into fine-tuning every aspect of the program and to create the ‘UNNATI WAY’ and the model and open up 30 centres across the country.
The UNNATI logo and approach were beautifully defined by Mr. Dharen Chadha and team Cracker and Rush (led by Ashutosh and Ruhi). The various discussions on brand strategy helped UNNATI to understand the way forward as also the market requirements better. UNNATI in many ways became a thought leader in the area of skilling and more importantly continued to focus on employability skills and 100% job guarantee.
To strengthen the operations at the main centre, A Boys Hostel was built in the year 2016 and a Girls Hostel subsequently in the year 2018. These are state of the art buildings which help us maintain our image as a premium institution catering to the lowest strata of society.
A very special offering in the form of the UNXT Program was designed and promoted for the final year Govt. College youth in the year 2017, in a small way, by training around 200 youth. The instant success of this program helped UNNATI scale UNXT in the next 2 years of 2018-19 and 2019-20 and train over 15000 youth in various Govt. Colleges in Karnataka. This program is as powerful as the Mid-day meal scheme which was started in Govt schools many years ago. We see a similarity by which this program can be scaled at a negligible cost, across the country, to help the Govt College youth become gainfully employed. The coming years for UNXT is going to be extremely exciting with a lot of focus on content, delivery, standardisation and replication happening. The vision to train and employ 1 million youth is well within our reach as we embark on this UNXT journey.
UNNATI has achieved a lot of success in ensuring IT intervention and implementation in many aspects of the operations of the organisation, including LMS and data capturing. We definitely stand among the best in the industry, with a lot of digital content and IT interventions in every area, to reduce costs.
One of the great strengths of UNNATI has been the volunteers who work with passion on pro bono basis and actually lead verticals. This has helped the organisation to bring down the operating costs of the organisation and make UNNATI a lowest cost model program in the country. This is true for UNXT as well.
In the days to come, we hope to expand our operations to many more States taking forward UNNATI’s VTP program and UNXT forward keeping in mind our goal of training and placing 1 million youth. UNNATI is not just about knowledge transfer but also about getting the youth to become responsible citizens, instil in them values, make them better human beings, kindle in them the need for continuous learning, get them job-ready, make the youth understand the larger purpose of education and above all definitely not allow them to stop at that. As of 2020, UNNATI has trained over 45,000 youth and placed over 35,000 youth. We aim to grow exponentially and reach 1 lakh youth each year in the next 4 to 5 years.
Another Innovation and Entrepreneurship venture by UNNATI titled ‘SUGAM’ - Spark Unnati Grassroot Accelerator Mission, supports aspiring graduates to become innovators and design thinkers. This is a complete eco-system with amenities for an entrepreneur to work-on. SUGAM supports and assists young aspiring entrepreneurs in their journey from ideation to marketplace by facilitating through functional space, infrastructure, live projects, and mentoring. We started the program in February and are looking forward to greater momentum in 2021.