Udhyam, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘enterprise,’ was launched in 2017 as a pilot initiative to promote rural entrepreneurship in Uttarakhand. Udhyam aims to create entrepreneurs who generate employment for themselves and others, becoming role models and inspiring further business creation in their communities. In doing so, the project seeks to increase overall rural employment opportunities, thus providing people in Uttarakhand with the choice to stay back or reverse migrate back to the hills. 

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Pahad ke Rang

Udhyam has been nurturing the aspirations of youth in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. In 2020, a chance encounter with the visual art students of the Soban Singh Jeena University in Almora highlighted their immense potential and their yearning for more opportunities. To bridge this gap, Udhyam launched Pahad Ke Rang under the Metores Trust. This initiative supports rural artists in Kumaon by providing a platform to enhance their skills, showcase their talents, sell their artworks, and receive mentorship, fostering better careers and brighter futures. 

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Mountain folk festival

Covid took a massive toll on live music. In response, we organised Kumaon’s first mountain folk festival on September 5, 2021, at the Himalayan View Retreat in Ramgarh to promote Uttarakhand’s vibrant but lesser-known music scene. Four local bands performed Kumaoni, Garhwali, and hybrid IndiKumaoni music. The event, with all necessary precautions, was limited to a hundred people.

Khusi Ka Ek Din (KKED)

Celebrating the women of Kumaon

Life in the remote, mountainous areas of India is not a party. Negotiating the slopes of hilly terrain is difficult, with limited transport options and roads often not reaching remote areas. Now, imagine carrying fodder and heavy wooden logs from the forest everyday without a break. This describes the monotonous and demanding life of most mountain women. From starting fires, cooking and cleaning, to tending animals, and caring for family, women place everyone before themselves, aging prematurely from the relentless hard work. The concept of “a break” or cherished “me-time” is practically non-existent. To provide these women much needed respite from their daily chores, Udhyam and the Metores Trust conceived Khushi Ka Ek Din. Between October 2023 and February 2024, this one-of-a-kind event was held on a massive scale, covering 15 rural locations and 165 remove villages across the Kumaon region.



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India And Bharat Together (IABT)

India And Bharat Together (IABT) is an applied research non-profit currently working in Uttarakhand and towards empowering young people in rural and small-town areas with the agency to redefine their aspirations and pursue sustainable livelihoods.

Through a combination of direct interventions such as livelihood support programs and youth mentoring, as well as timely research studies to inform policy and practice, IABT works towards a country where geography no longer determines the future of our youth.

Research in rural parts of India has also shown that young people’s aspirations are limited to what they see around them. Where they are born, who they know, and what they’ve seen around them – these factors play a large role in defining their eventual livelihood pathways.

Other barriers like financial vulnerability, poor infrastructure, and community norms further prevent rural and small-town youth from securing the agency to make free decisions and pursue their aspirations, however limited they may be. These disparities have been further compounded by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, which has forced the abrupt closure of economic and educational activities that previously engaged rural and small-town youth.

In 2019, IABT and Udhyam undertook a study of youth aspirations in 6 districts of the Himalayan state. Our study was based on insights on youth career options, the driving forces behind them, and the barriers that the youth face in taking actions toward fulfilling these aspirations. In 2020, IABT in collaboration with Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI), conducted a rapid assessment on digital learning across Higher Education institutions in the Indian Himalayan region during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a team, our collective experience of working with young people over the last few years has shown us that having a ‘skills first’ approach severely limits the potential of young people who do not have the exposure, agency, or awareness to pursue livelihoods that are appropriate for them in the long term.

Hence, we follow an ‘agency first’ approach through our model of building agency – the ability to make free and informed decisions about their own futures – through awareness generation, individualized mentoring, and exposure to local livelihood solutions and local role models. Through our two-phase model, rural youth develop agency to pursue sustainable livelihoods.

It is only after young people are able to make free and informed decisions about their livelihood and career choice that we work on building ability through skilling and enabling access to opportunities in employment (in the private sector, social sector, or self-employment through entrepreneurship). Our ‘Khojshala’ career exploration workshops provide youth with awareness about local livelihoods and exposure to role models, empowering them to redefine their aspirations and consider entrepreneurship.

‘Margshala’, a fellowship for aspiring and early-stage rural entrepreneurs, builds youth role models by equipping them with knowledge, skills and tools to start or expand a local business in sectors which are supported by local natural resources, such as agriculture, tourism or digital livelihoods.