KOLKATA: A handful of talented but marginalized women – underprivileged, sex workers, trafficked and transgender – received support from an unusual neighborhood to rebuild their lives. Namit Bajoria, businessman was the pillar of hope for these women, and some young children, for whom ‘Kutchina Krritika’ turned out to be a “friend in need”.
Since 2014, Bajoria, the founder of Kutchina, has been helping talented but disadvantaged women and girls to become social entrepreneurs with the project. Kutchina Krritika is one of the first ventures by an Indian businessman to reach out to various disadvantaged people, like sex workers and transgender people, and help them become community leaders. So far, the program has benefited over 21 people across India and Bajoria hopes to increase that number to at least 50 within the next few years.
“Women are our largest customer group. Since what we earn comes from women, I thought it was important to give back to the community by helping women from disadvantaged sections of society,” said said Bajoria. “Until 2014, our main philanthropic effort was contributing to various charities. But at some point I thought, why not start our own initiative to help empower women?”
The support structure provided under the Krritika program includes funds, resources, skills development, mentorship and networking. Bajoria explained that after a detailed and scrupulous selection process, women are selected as Krritika winners because of their need and the ingenuity of their ideas for the advancement of their community.
“I am really happy that we have even been able to reach out to victims of human trafficking and sex workers and have been able to give them the resources for alternative forms of income. Our priority is not only to providing funds but also a support system to create opportunities for these women so that they can continue to recreate the process.The victim of human trafficking was able to start a vocational training center for other former victims” , Bajoria said.
Such a commercial enterprise program for the transgender community in India is rare. Transgender rights activist Ranjeeta Sinha, one of the beneficiaries of the project, said: “Considering that the LGBTQI community is still struggling for its representation, that a businessman plans to support the community as early as 2014 is truly extraordinary. It was an important step. Thanks to the scholarship funds I received, I facilitated training sessions and workshops for people in my community who, in turn, empowered themselves, professionally and financially.” Women’s rights activist Bappaditya Mukherjee, a friend from Bajoria, who had made several LGBTQI nominations for Krritika, agreed: “This was one of the first programs in India from a company that recognized and supported transgender people. The beneficiaries are grateful because thanks to Krritika, they can now not only support themselves, but also uplift their community.”
Bajoria urged budding philanthropists not to just donate money to charity. “It is much more impactful to try to get involved in the process of education and job creation, because it helps society as a whole. As soon as a woman gets a job, four or five people in her immediate family are built with her,” he says.
Discussing the future of Kutchina Krritika, Bajoria said, “During the uncertain times at the height of the pandemic, we decided not to take any more Krritikas, but focused on supporting our existing Krritikas. hopes to increase the number of our Krritikas from the current 21 to over 50. Our mission is to empower women in various fields across the country.