Enabling the Disabled
Shanti Raghavan gave up a high-flying corporate career to work at skilling the disabled and finding them jobs.
Shanti Raghavan's was a textbook success story. She studied engineering in Mumbai and New Jersey, acquired a dream job in the US and married her former classmate Dipesh Sutariya.
But she found herself exposed to a different world when her brother Harish was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that leads ultimately to loss of vision. Her husband and she helped Harish undergo mobility training for the blind, following which he was able to complete his MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and secure employment with a top business group. But Raghavan's exposure to this new world changed her. She now wanted to help more than one Harish.
Thus was born EnAble India, aimed at skilling the disabled, to run which Raghavan quit her job with GE in 2004. It works with 11 different kinds of challenged people, including those suffering from visual, hearing or motor disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and more. "We want the disabled to become economically independent," she says.
"Becoming a financially productive member of society is a transformative act for most of them. Nor do we expect charity hiring by businesses. We want the disabled to provide business value."
EnAble India, which concentrates on the private sector - since the government provides 3 per cent reservation for the disabled anyway - has so far touched the lives of more than 150,000 disabled people. It has placed more than 5,000 disabled people - 26 per cent of whom are women - across 600 companies in 27 sectors, including banking and finance, food and beverages, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, telecom and IT.