1M1B - Re-engineering ways to create grassroot impact during COVID

Anjana Rajguru
·3-min read
Cutters in the 1M1B tailoring unit in Lakkavaram village
Cutters in the 1M1B tailoring unit in Lakkavaram village

1M1B, 1 Million for 1 Billion is a UN-accredited non-profit, social innovation, and entrepreneurship initiative aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that helps develop future skills and create jobs, and undertakes income enhancement initiatives for under-served communities globally.

With COVID, they had to re-engineer their ways of working to continue making an impact at the grassroots while helping address issues arising due to the pandemic.

Opportunities and Impact

Globally, there was an acute shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and sensing a need there, IM1B pivoted and transformed a modest under-utilized tailoring center in Lakkavaram village in Andhra Pradesh (AP) into a PPE manufacturing unit. Abhiram Natarajan, Senior Fellow-1M1B who was on coordinating on-ground activities to set up the unit, informs “We were struggling to keep the tailoring unit afloat since 4 years but with COVID, we saw a huge opportunity that could not only solve the PPE scarcity problem but also help the village women who were below the poverty line to earn a decent income. We quickly trained the women in making PPEs and we received a big order from the A.P. government worth Rs 70 lakh a month to manufacture the kits”.

1M1B delivered its first order of 50,000 PPEs in April 2020. This helped 240 women who were reeling in poverty to bounce back. The women worked tirelessly from the safety of their homes to produce 15,000 masks, 6,000 shoe covers, and 5,000 lab coats every day. The cutting was done at the unit and due safety measures like social distancing and daily sanitization were put in place to ensure the cutters were protected. Most of these women’s husbands and fathers were migrant workers in cities who returned home and were jobless with zero income. The unit helped create a livelihood for 240 families.

1M1B tailoring unit members working from home
1M1B tailoring unit members working from home

Student Saviours

IM1B also works with several schools in India and conducts social entrepreneurship programs called Future Leaders where students are trained to undertake projects that have a propensity to create a social impact.

Some students of the program took it upon themselves to help people impacted due to the pandemic. Manav Subodh, the Co-Founder of 1M1B, informs “The pandemic got the best out of these students and it is amazing that they found ways to help the needy even in these trying times. Two girls from Chirec school in Hyderabad raised more than Rs.2.5 lakhs which was used to provide essentials to 100 low-income families”.

“Another student had gone to visit his grandparents in Ananthpur when the lockdown was imposed. He was stuck there for 60 days and at that time, he decided to be of help to charitable and government hospitals in Ananthpur that were treating COVID-19 patients from low-income families. He raised one lakh Rupees and supplied PPE kits and equipment to these two hospitals. Similarly, over 65 students from other schools in Bangalore like TISB, NPS, NAFL, and DPS North who were part of the 1M1B Future Leaders program raised over 20 lakhs rupees for various relief work and distributed 700+ food and medical kits during the 2 months of lockdown".

1M1B has shown that if you have the will to help, the way finds itself.

Image Courtesy: 1M1B

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