Empowering rural development is the mission of EO member’s Vishal Chordia latest venture.
I am one of the founding members of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) chapter in Pune. As a member of EO, my story very much relates to the organization’s five core values—Cool, Boldly Go, Thirst for Learning, Trust & Respect and Make a Mark.
It all began with the interaction with the Hon. Minister of Industries Shri Subhash Desai, at an EO Pune learning event where he was invited as the speaker. Thereafter a news article on the dying industry of the famed Kolhapuri Chappal (hand-crafted leather slippers) was published in The Times of India in February 2016, and my communication with the Minister of Industries, Maharashtra, started.
A detailed presentation to the Minister was made. The presentation was on the issues that plagued the Kolhapuri footwear industry and my suggestions on reviving it. Meetings with state officials and experts followed.
Taking into account my genuine interest in making an impact on the lives of Maharashtra’s rural artisans and entrepreneurs, coupled with capabilities and understanding of the rural landscape, the Minister arrived at a decision to give me the opportunity to head the Maharashtra State Khadi and Village Industries Board (MSKVIB) on September 2017.
My personal interpretation of this journey—boldly stepping up to take on the challenges and sincerely attempting to make a mark socially—is a leaf out of the EO storybook.
MSKVIB is an organization of 700,000 rural entrepreneurs across the state.
It’s been a year since I took over as the Chairman (Minister of State) of the Maharashtra State Khadi and Village Industries Board. Having traveled widely across the state, visiting distant locations, to see what can be done to help strengthen the rural economy that is the fundamental strength and backbone of any economy and also impacts the masses. My primary aim is to ensure that the happiness quotient of the people stays high, as most other things follow.
The “out-of-the-box” style of thinking nurtured at EO helps me innovate the rural business landscape by redesigning the products, restructuring of the business model and redefining the future.
High on my agenda is employment generation and entrepreneurship creation. I truly believe Mahatma Gandhi’s view that “India lives in the villages,” and that strengthening the village industry is the best way toward nation-building. “Gramodyog” (village industry) needed a recognizable brand, which has now been created in the form of “Mahakhadi”.
Having realized that good products and skills are plentifully available but need to be harnessed through a platform, “MahaKhadi” was created with the aim of starting a public movement that provides dignity to the rural entrepreneurs.
My basic strategy to take MSKVIB forward is the 3 S Agenda: skilling, scaling and selling.
Mahakhadi is being developed so that goods made in Maharashtra by rural industries get better visibility. The brand will cover all handicrafts and handmade artifacts and will provide the rural artisan dignity and self-esteem.
The first dedicated Gramodyog retail outlet will be set up on the premises of MSVIB’s offices in Pune, featuring customer friendly across all district headquarters.
Training for GenNext
The challenge is to familiarize the younger generation with traditional arts and crafts. The aim is also to encourage entrepreneurs who will provide employment in that area, leading to economic self-sufficiency. Hence there is emphasis within my team on skills development. As a first step, we have gone online so that information about all projects and schemes is available easily.
Having received applause from the Governor and Chief Minister of Maharashtra for the efforts put in, for me personally, the first year has been all about studying, observing, absorbing and striking a dialogue. The next two years will be the completion of identified projects, deepening and widening of the board’s geographical presence and to further maximize our outreach. We will also focus on policy formation and making fundamental changes that will make the board future ready.