Bridging the gap: SAP and UNDP foster digital skills and social entrepreneurship in rural Karnataka

 Bengaluru, India: In an initiative to empower women and youth, SAP Labs India and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India has collaborated with the Government of Karnataka to facilitate increased access to career guidance, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities and promote 21st-century skills.

On World Youth Skills Day, Ms. Manjushree, IAS – the Mission Director, National Livelihood Mission in Karnataka initiated the Code Unnati’s registration drive for women participants from the grassroots to undergo various interventions. This includes continuous experiential training to build enterprise awareness, a development program imparting basic enterprise planning, and Community Cadres (Unnati Sakhi’s) mentorship and handholding support.

One of the major objectives of this initiative which is called Code Unnati is to impart digital literacy to women and youth from rural Karnataka. Digital literacy is one of the key 21st-century skills required to improve their employability. Owing to disruptions in offline learning, the project learning modules were digitalized to provide timely guidance to participants.

Code Unnati engages with academia, government institutions at the state and district level, incubation centers, civil societies, and other bodies to create a sustainable impact. Through the following initiatives the project will reach over 20,000 youth and 5,000 women in Bangalore Rural, Raichur, and Dakshin Kannada districts over the next three years:

Imparting digital literacy, entrepreneurial skills, and digital financial education for women and youth

Connecting youth with government incubation centers and providing them with opportunities to participate in design thinking workshops, innovation challenges, and boot camps

Women would be supported through community-level mentorship and handholding support to start or scale their micro-enterprises. The project will raise awareness about various vocations, industry and professional linkages, and employee volunteering.

More than 300 women are expected to initiate their own businesses in three years and enhance their income by an anticipated 10 percent within 18 months of the program’s initiation. Karnataka has been at the forefront of creating digital opportunities while nurturing one of the country’s most mature IT and start-up ecosystems. This initiative is further working towards strengthening the enabling ecosystem with a focus on skilling.

It will also provide 15,000 students with 21st-century skills training coupled with Entrepreneurship Development Programmes in the target districts. These students will have opportunities to attend design thinking workshops, demos, digital skills championships leading to scholarships and employment opportunities. SAP will lead directly lead the strategic mentorship for all the initiatives.

Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP, and Managing Director, SAP Labs India, said, “Technology has enabled everyone to stay connected, especially during the pandemic. The demand for digital skills will increase and a plethora of entrepreneurial opportunities will emerge. Our mission of making the world run better and improving people’s lives well aligns with UNDP’s global goals. We are happy to see ourselves in the role of equipping women and youth in Karnataka to make them future-ready, and thus ensuring diversity and inclusion.”

Ms Nadia Rasheed, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP India, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened many existing inequalities. Empowering women and youth to access sustainable livelihood opportunities is critical to ensuring an inclusive and sustainable recovery. With the Government of Karnataka and SAP, we intend to leverage our collective strengths to expand opportunities for young people and women and to help make communities more resilient.”


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