SWAN (Skilled Workforce Advancing Nation) Livelihood is a Delhi-based startup that aims to build workforce capabilities through specially designed training programmes and counselling sessions. Our mission is to bring smiles on the young faces while also creating a welcoming environment in the workplace with satisfied employers.
Why and how did you start SWAN?
Meghna Joshi, the founder of SWAN, has an eclectic academic background that includes Honours in Business Economics during graduation, and a post-graduate degree in Environment and Development.
The collective experience of working in the Corporate and Development sectors, as well as managing the operations of various skill development centres, enabled me to gain a deep understanding of the pain points of youth coming from all the sections of the society. It also led me towards a thorough understanding of the issues confronting employers who hire young people. In my efforts to resolve these issues through a systematic process, skill development became my passion, which eventually led to the formation of SWAN (Skilled Workforce Advancing Nation).
SWAN began operations in January 2020 by empowering youth from economically weaker communities by developing a training curriculum focused on comprehensive in-class training, followed by connecting participants to employers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when all TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) institutions ceased operations, inevitably affecting the job aspirations of innumerable youth, we attempted to expand our online training programmes by bringing more youth into the ambit of our skilling programmes – from youth in lower socio-economic areas both rural and urban India to college students and even working professionals (both early stage and late stage).
What makes SWAN special? How does it impact people’s lives?
Our organization’s underlying mission is to alleviate the pain points that youth face through training and mentorship, as well as to prepare them for a harmonious and fruitful relationship with employers.
However, for myself, my co-founder, and our staff, the main source of inspiration is seeing the smiles on the faces of the youth we support. We work hard every day to improve the quality of our young workforce through innovative training and counselling sessions. Since its inception, and even during lockdowns, our operation has maintained, and even expanded, to online training workshops where we can ensure that our students are developing professional skills in preparation for the Post-COVID world.
- Capacity Building: Hand-holding Support (Program Implementation) to Non-Government Organizations (NGOs)/Grassroots Organizations.
- Specialized Trainings: Providing experiential trainings/workshops and up-skilling programmes to help people realise their full potential by increasing cognitive capacity and improving skill-set.
- Industry Connect and Mentorship Support: A direct mentor-mentee connection with Industry Experts and Counselling Sessions.
- Community Development Programmes: Mobilizing support for communities living below the poverty line for the upliftment of youth/women, as well as initiating policy level interventions to bridge the rich-poor disparity.
What have been your biggest success factors?
Patience, resilience, an innovative attitude, and self-confidence are some of the virtues that an entrepreneur must nurture in order to sail through adversity. Self-belief and consistency in work can work wonders, and they have assisted us in obtaining support from various stakeholders and forging meaningful partnerships.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced launching and running the organization?
Setting up the venture proved to be a challenging task. Putting together a team, reaching out, convincing, and branding the act all appeared to be easier on paper. Natural occurrences over which we had no control began shortly after the first month of getting our act together. When we began in January 2020, the extreme cold, incessant rains, and widespread protests in the city were enough to test our patience. The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the complete lock down exacerbated the situation. These difficult times also taught us the importance of patience and staying focused on our goals. Sustained and dedicated efforts, as well as the support of family, mentors, and peers, made the journey to our goals a breeze. We were able to carve out a niche in the minds of the surrounding communities and were repeatedly reminded of the real and significant lack of avenues and mentorship support in communities, as well as the challenges associated with the technical divide that still exists in an urban – rural setup.
Which do you think is most important: the right product, the right market, or the right team?
All three form a crucial aspect to sustain the operations of a venture. The product is considered suitable if it can address the customers’ or market segment’s pain point and if they are willing to buy it. As a result, one should always think deeply in order to find answers to the question Why?
Why do you want to create a specific product for the target market segment? How will it alleviate the pain points of customers? Why will they be willing to buy them?
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Since our inception, we’ve expanded to include both classroom and virtual training sessions. Looking ahead, we intend to expand into e-learning to reach a larger number of people with skill-based learning, as well as begin our in-class, community development sessions in the areas of skill development, education, and women empowerment. Future projections appear brighter as skill development gains traction, as evidenced by the SDGs-2030 (Sustainable Development Goals), which advocate for technical, vocational education and training (TVET), decent work opportunities and assistance to young adults.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are just getting started or want to get started?
Believing in your abilities and in yourself will get you a long way.
Please visit SWAN’s website at https://swanlivelihood.co.in for more information.