Tech for Tribals is a unique program to make tribals of India “Aatmanirbhar”. TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI has funded this nationwide program that focuses to bridge the gap between tribal entrepreneurs and urban markets. The project aims at the holistic development of tribals with a focus on entrepreneurship development, soft skills, IT, and business development through Self Help Groups that operate through VanDhan Vikas Kendras (VDVK).

An important source of livelihoods for tribal people is non-wood forest products or Minor Forest Produce (MFP). MFPs provide both subsistence and cash income for an estimated 100 million people who live in or near forests. MFP forms a major portion of their food, fruits, medicines, and other consumption items and also provides cash income through sale. Tribals derive 20-40% of their annual income from MFP on which they spend a major portion of their time.

FIRST @ IIT Kanpur has been entrusted to run the skill development program of tribal youth across Chhattisgarh and Kerala to help them build their enterprise by commercializing the products using MFPs. This program will mainly entail three aspects of development for sustainable entrepreneurship which can be considered as the three pillars – Engagement, Capacity Building, and Market linkages. This will lead to the path of commercialization of the tribal entrepreneurs.

This skill-building and empowerment of tribals are achieved through training in the following areas:

  • Introduction to SHG based Entrepreneurship, success stories
  • Entrepreneurial Competencies, SHG process management, Communication
  • Locally available NTFP based Business Opportunity Identification of Value Added Products, Round the Year capacity utilization
  • Product positioning – Grading / Sorting, Branding, Packaging, Product certifications
  • Equipment and Processing Technology, Project Report preparation
  • Market Survey, Distribution Channels- Retail sales, supply contracts with manufacturers
  • Good Manufacturing Practice(GMP), TQC, Hygienic Operations management, Profitability
  • Business Management, Operational and Financial statements
  • Business Plan Preparation, Bank interactions
  • Business Strategy & Growth, Digital literacy, leveraging IT, Achievement Motivation and positive psychology; Wrap up

The training also comprises of exposure through onsite demos on best practices in manufacturing, Total Quality, Hygiene, and standards to be followed in the market. The relevant branding and implementation of best in class packaging solutions are expected to add value to the indigenous Minor Forest Produces and subsequently propagating entrepreneurship among the tribals. The expected outcome shall be successful, aspiring and confident tribal entrepreneurs ready to compete with the best products in the market with feasible business plans.