Hello everyone. My name is Spiffy, I’m an interplanetary journalist stationed on Planet Earth for Ladderworks. I’ve been interviewing social entrepreneurs from all over the world. Today I’m in India, interviewing Arjun Mishra, the co-founder of NABET—The National Association for the Blind (Employment & Training) Manesar. They are working on SDG #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. Let’s hear what he has to say!
Spiffy: Greetings Arjun! What challenge are you addressing?
Arjun: NABET India works for the employment and empowerment of persons with disabilities. We identify jobs that can be proficiently performed by the differently-abled and get these jobs outsourced from companies and get these performed by the disabled. Differently-abled constitute over 70 million people in India and over 80% of these people are unemployed. Lack of jobs makes them excessively dependent on donations and charities, even though they are competent and ambitious about leading a better future. Nabet identifies this innate desire and works in partnership with leading companies to solve the problem of unemployment.
Spiffy: How do you see the future of this issue?
Arjun: There is an urgent need to look beyond the disability of a person and make them a part of mainstream society. In spite of the tremendous economic progress of the country, a huge population of approximately 5% of the country has been left out. There is an urgent need to give a chance to this opportunity-deprived segment of society. We need more partners to join us in this journey to ensure the program grows and sustains.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do this?
Arjun: The lack of access to opportunity, in spite of them being capable of leading an economically independent future, is the biggest motivation behind starting Nabet. We identified job opportunities where the differently-abled can be gainfully employed with work that a disabled person could perform proficiently, their disability notwithstanding. We offer skill training in participation with corporate training partners, to ensure that maximum employment upon completion of the training program
Spiffy: How are you working to create a more equitable world?
Arjun: Project Vijay is our flagship program in which we work to create a more equitable future for the differently-abled and help them in becoming equal and contributing members of society. We have disrupted various industries and identified positions where the differently-abled can be gainfully employed. Nabet has created jobs for differently-abled and skill trained over 10,000 people through our program. The program is to be scaled in different parts of the country and is getting NGOs from across the country to align with the mandate of employment generation. We also support our aligned NGOs in curriculum development.
Spiffy: What’s a time you’ve faced failure and how did you overcome it?
Arjun: Failures have a greater contribution to teaching an organization and a person than success. I have had many instances of failures in my life and have learned a lot from them. I remember, for a very long time, I was trying to find new projects for my special talented friends but were getting rejected over and over again. I was getting very frustrated and even contemplated giving up on the idea. I guess destiny favors the brave—just then, one of the leading MNCs in India responded to my request. After that initial start, I got more and more success going forward. I felt all the rejections were adding up and the almighty was testing my resolve. Those failures are the scars that create great memories, in hindsight.
Spiffy: I believe you can learn from anyone and I love lessons from kids, peers, or even pets! So what’s something you’ve learned recently?
Arjun: I learned the importance of serving, without expectations, from my nephew. He learns to sense the vibes among people and knows when someone needs emotional support. I feel like this is a very precious skill, even though it’s difficult to map monetarily. A leader—while ensuring productivity and performance—should also attempt to ensure their team is at a good place emotionally so they can perform to their potential.
Spiffy: Thank you so much for the insight! It’s been a pleasure, Arjun.
Arjun Mishra, co-founder of NABET India, is a very passionate social entrepreneur with immense experience in creating sustainable solutions for the employment of persons with disabilities. Arjun has received numerous international honors and takes immense joy in working for a better tomorrow for the differently-abled. (Nominated by One Young World. First published on the Ladderworks website on July 15, 2021)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Elias Ross Trupin. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.