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This Ex-Google Employee Equips Underprivileged Youth With Soft Skills to Make Them More Employable

The/Nudge Foundation in Bangalore is alleviating poverty among youth by equipping youngsters with soft skills that make them more employable.

Between 2006 and 2010, when 38-year-old Atul Satija was working at Google’s Gurgaon office, he came to the realisation that he wanted to work in the social sector. Despite being offered a job where he could relocate to either Japan or Mountain View in the US, Atul chose to stay behind so he could make a tangible positive impact on underprivileged communities in the country.

He started volunteering with a Gurgaon-based organisation called End Poverty, which works to alleviate poverty. Soon enough, he became the president of the board at this organisation. After relocating to Bangalore a few years later, he set up a non-profit called The/Nudge Foundation in 2015.

This foundation focuses on early intervention to alleviate poverty among 18-25 year olds, who are provided soft skills training to make them more employable.

Young graduates from The Nudge Foundation.
Young graduates from The Nudge Foundation.

Atul Satija, the CEO and Founder of The/Nudge Foundation, spoke to The Better India about what it takes to ensure the livelihoods of 300+ students through soft skills training.

Angel Preethi used to live in a small town in North Karnataka. A year ago, she enrolled herself in a residential programme with Athul’s foundation. She had studied only up to Class 7 but she did a beautician’s course during her stay with the NGO.  Soon after that she was hired as a receptionist by a high end salon called Uber Med Spa in Bangalore. Atul says, “As our student she was so good at her job that she managed to do club membership sales of Rs. 1,00,000.”

On November 8, 2016, 67 underprivileged women also graduated from Nudge’s flagship Gurukul programme with 100% placement in two streams – beauty services and data entry.

When asked to explain why the Gurukul is a residential programme, Atul says, “If youth have grown up in a vulnerable environment that could be dangerous at times, how do we condition their minds to feel safe, independent and secure? To understand this better we started conducting surveys among people from disadvantaged backgrounds and speaking with NGOs. We realised that there were a lot of non-profit organisations that work to equip underprivileged people with soft skills but the learning process was not immersive at all.”

With this in mind, the Nudge team created three foundation programmes – economic, learning and life. The residential Gurukul programme is run under the life foundation.

There are four Gurukuls located in various parts of Bangalore, which usually house 300 students altogether at any given point in time.

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The Nudge team

The/Nudge Foundation routinely reaches out to people living in slums, as well as rural areas of North Karnataka like Raichur and Belgavi, through their direct admission scheme. The indirect admission scheme involves staying in touch with NGOs and local religious leaders who help enrol underprivileged students in the Gurukul programme.

Since more than 70% of the students studying and living at the Gurukul are female, how does the organisation convince their families to let the women live away from them? Atul says, “Admitting women is three times more difficult and expensive because there are many decision-makers in a woman’s life and any of them can refuse to give her permission to move to our Gurukuls. For their extended family and friends to trust us to take care of them for four months of their lives is also a difficult process. But we assure them that our residential facility is very safe – we have 24×7 security and CCTV cameras everywhere.”

As the students get ready for their careers, the Nudge team invites various organisations for an open campus recruitment process. Companies like Lakme, YLG, VLC, and Green Trend interview the students and select them.

Atul says, “The employers know that the students have been trained by professionals and usually like our students. Our growing economy with a 400 million skill deficit provides real opportunity for them to escape the cycle of poverty through gainful employment, but imparting hard skill training alone is proving to be insufficient. We hope that our life, learning and economic foundation equips them to lead fulfilled lives.”

You can get in touch with The/Nudge Foundation at: www.thenudge.org

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