In a quest towards self-sufficiency, Delhi-based central university Jamia Millia Islamia is not only planning to grow food material on the premises but is also set to put up factory outlets for uniforms and bottled water!
The University has a self-funded ‘Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ that initiated the self-sufficiency programme under the name, ‘Aspire’, which functions under MSME ministry.
These factory outlets aim to help the university become self-dependent and also provide employment opportunities for school dropouts.
Director Zishan Khan told TOI that the intent of these programmes is “to provide entrepreneurship training to the economically weaker sections, school dropouts, and help university students earn a livelihood through training.”
The University has a bakery, a bottling plant, and a tailoring and machine embroidery system.
These workshops are not operated by amateurs, but by students and dropouts trained by experts.
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In the bakery, for example, the students have been training under Shamshad Ahmed, a baker, to work the machinery that bakes bread, cookies, cakes, muffins etc. Ahmed, who has been a baker for nine years now, says, “There are currently three batches of students with around 30 in each who have shown great enthusiasm as many of them want to open their own units.”
Jamia also has a tailoring unit where girls who have dropped out of school learn appropriate skills under the guidance of a professional. The girls are charged a small fee of ₹3000 to enrol for the training.
Khan believes that the university is a vast market for sales in all units. The canteen and students’ hostels generate good demand for baked products, clothes, and other food items. They are also planning to set up kiosks apart from these ‘markets.’
“We will be providing these products and the mineral water at cheaper rates. This is being done only for the benefit of the students, and providing them with hygienic and accessible products. We want to make the centre self-sustainable when we start generating revenue,” Khan told the TOI.
The water produced at the bottling plant has been sent for testing, and they plan on rolling out the operations on a large scale by next week.
Khan also added that the initiative was the brainchild of the VC of Jamia, and the vision was for it to become “much like many international universities that have their own companies and manage their own funds.”