As we step into 2021, we can’t help but look back at 2020 and what a year it has been! It has tested us on so many levels: as individuals, as businesses and as a community. When the whole nation, and most of the world, went into lockdown, those who lived on the fringes of poverty were worst affected. Hordes of people were left with no choice but to make their way back to their villages, leaving behind jobs and homes in their cities of work. This has reaffirmed the importance of augmenting livelihood opportunities for communities in their native geographies.
These recent events have reinforced our strategy to work on rural livelihoods. Since 2006, Axis Bank Foundation (ABF) has engaged with rural communities, supporting their efforts to improve and stabilise their livelihoods. Our core theme of “Sustainable Livelihoods” is focused on improving the livelihoods of rural communities and developing the skillsets of rural and peri-urban youth, including those with disabilities. To this end, ABF collaborates with NGO partners that have experience at the grassroots-level in the areas of rural livelihoods and skilling. In addition to this, we collaborate with like-minded funding agencies, corporates, and various committed government bodies, ensuring the effective implementation of development goals, keeping in mind scale and sustainability.
The pandemic has given us the opportunity to validate, rethink and redesign. As we do this, we must not lose sight of what has been and is working well. Through our efforts to bolster rural livelihoods, over the years we have learnt that community-initiated and -led natural resource management forms the bedrock for stable rural livelihoods. Diversified streams of income, or a basket of livelihoods, provide households with multiple income sources to facilitate cash inflow throughout the year. Strengthening stewardship and leadership at the grassroots empowers communities to visualize and spearhead their own development agenda. All of this, of course, requires patience and catalytic capital.
As a grant making organization, our experience of working with rural communities has reinforced our belief in creating stable livelihoods. It takes several years of effort to align resources and build capacities and build we must.
Beginning of a new year is a time for making those small commitments to ourselves and this time in our lives its even more important that we do. I hope that as we go along into the year and beyond, we make better choices for ourselves and for those who we are responsible for. But importantly, we expand the boundaries of whom and what we consider as our responsibility.
I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2021.