International Partners: 60 students from IVUSA, Japan
Amrita Partners: 60 1st MBA students, School of Business
Village: Perumbalam, Kerala
Project Duration: 1 month
Identified Challenge & Aim: With a lack of consistent and sustainable employment as well as a lack of access to sustainable housing, many rural fishermen communities find themselves in cyclical poverty and spiraling debt. This study aims to understand and identify areas for potential economic growth, social development, and methods for building sustainable homes.
The Study/Innovation: The team conducted field visits and a situation analysis to identify key areas for growth. The students focused on economic empowerment through the development of new jobs; skill development through vocational training; and income generation through a sustainable business model that enables villagers to better market their products. Students learned that the main source of income comes from catching and selling fish–an occupation which is not always reliable and cannot supply a steady and substantial income. Furthermore, many villagers live in areas that do not have structured roads, making it difficult to transport materials to build homes. Many residents are currently living in thatched huts or half constructed houses without a sturdy roof, causing many to suffer during the summer and monsoon months of the year.
The team then studied the social development of the village by conducting an impact analysis on the existing pension and scholarship schemes run by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s parent NGO – the Matha Amritanandamayi Math. This was followed by a panel discussion with members of the Perumbalam panchayat. Led by panchayat president, Sri K.S. Shibu, the panel discussion looked at current challenges and possible solutions in the areas of economic empowerment, social development, health literacy, infrastructure development, and educational development. Proposed solutions were presented keeping in mind the potential impact on the village’s surrounding environment.