I have been working with Technology and Action for Rural Advancement (TARA), the enterprise incubation wing of Development Alternatives Group for the last four months. This seems like a good time to elucidate what TARA does. Development Alternatives was founded by Dr. Ashok Khosla, in the year 1982, with a mission of creating models that generate sustainable livelihoods in large numbers. Dr. Khosla still serves as the Chairman of the organization. (To understand more about DA, you can also take a peek at here.) Today, I will be talking more about TARA, since this is the place I have and will be working mostly in.
TARA is a social enterprise, which primarily incubates business models, builds capacity and manages processes to bring about scalable economic, social and environmental change. TARA majorly provides TFMC (Technology, Finance, Market, Capacity) support to the beneficiaries. TARA works under three domains: Sustainable Enterprise, Capacity Building and Community Development. I am a part of the Sustainable Enterprise Domain. Our domain works majorly in setting up scalable enterprise, in aggregation and cluster development, in incubating products and technologies and in providing last mile access of basic needs. The current work here is majorly focused in Bihar, UP, Delhi-NCR and Haryana, with recent forays into Telangana. Most of the work done is in a collaborative model, where usually TARA serves as the technical agency or the implementing agency.
Awareness drives for bridging information gap regarding women entrepreneurship
The Capacity Building domain works primarily as the name suggests, in building capacity or skills. They work on various technical skilling programs in close collaboration with NSDC and the Sector Skills Councils. Also, they provide WASH trainings among various segments of the society. In addition, this domain is currently working in women empowerment through charting career paths for young girls and women through an online portal called ‘Pankh’ which serves as a virtual career counselor.
The Community Development domain works primarily in overall sustainable community development in arenas of livelihood, finance, etc. Alongside TARA, there are separate enterprises that TARA had incubated and that are now part of the DA ecosystem. There is Jal-TARA (the water testing and purification service provider), TARA Papers (a recycled handmade paper and paper products unit), TARA Nirman Kendra (the eco-building materials production unit), TARA Akshar (the wing that looks after education primarily among women and school dropouts), TARA Gram store (the one-stop shop for artisans to showcase their products made out of recycled materials), TARA Looms (the weaving unit), and TARA Machines (the green technology solution provider for building construction, waste recycling, and recycled paper production). As an organization, the Development Alternatives group practices on ground what it preaches. This can be seen across the organization, from the technology solutions it promotes and enterprises it sets up, to their own buildings.