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How IT Skills Bridge Two Unlikely Worlds

How IT Skills Bridge Two Unlikely Worlds

“iMerit delivers not just human-powered computing, but human-empowered computing. ”

– Radha Basu, iMerit CEO

iMerit has multiple centers around Kolkata, but perhaps the most unique is our Metiabruz center. Though all of our work is committed to training and employing women and youth, our Metiabruz center is entirely dedicated to the employment of women.

Over 90% of iMerit Metiabruz Center employees are women.

These are pretty staggering statistics for a technology company anywhere, and even more so given the context in which we’re working!

The Metiabruz neighborhood is a semi-urban, community in Kolkata, where women are typically not allowed to work far from their homes. Often, women and girls in Metiabruz are not allowed to get a proper education, facing issues such as forced marriage once they turn 18, and limited educational options. However, iMerit’s center is working to change these attitudes and show that women can excel in tech workplaces, while honoring their family and community commitments. When iMerit chose to build a center in Metiabruz, there were no other office jobs available to women in the area. It was a long process, but together with supportive women, men and families from the community, iMerit was able to break ground on what is now a center employing over 250 women.

Today, women working at iMerit Metiabruz are able to earn stable, good wages, and help support their families.

View from our Metiabruz office

View from our Metiabruz office. © iMerit.

Parents and guardians who know about the positive effects education and employment have on women and youth no longer pressure their daughters to get married at a young age. Women and girls have proven themselves to be helpful to their families in ways previously thought impossible, and have begun to revolutionize the community for the betterment of women.

Eight hours by train outside of Kolkata is Ranchi, Jharkhand.

Located in one of the poorest states of India, Ranchi is a city in which there are very few stable, well-paying jobs. Many turn to coal mining – both illegal and state-sanctioned – which has incredibly negative effects on the environment and on the health of Jharkhand residents and migrant workers. Others turn to family farms, or unstable wage labor. Still others are drawn in by Maoist rebel groups in the area that promise safety or stability in exchange for allegiance. Youth find it particularly difficult to find work. They often travel hours each day or move to different cities entirely in search for job. Even before it comes time to seek employment, youth in Ranchi do not have many educational options, meaning that gaining skills for the new economy is very difficult.

The thought of developing IT skills and jobs in this complex, rural context seems impossible.

Yet here, just like in our Metiabruz center, we see women and youth flourishing as they gain skills and carry out digital projects. iMerit created the first tech center in Ranchi, after our sister foundation, Anudip, began a skilling center here as well. iMerit employees in Ranchi, just like in our other centers, receive ongoing training and mentorship. By making these educational and employment options available, iMerit has impacted the lives hundreds of youth around the area. They report pride in the ability to support their families, and feelings of empowerment.

Market in Ranchi. © iMerit.

These two worlds are different, but both are home to hundreds of thousands of bright youth ready to meet and exceed the needs of the new digital economy.

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