Dr. Gayathri Vasudevan, CEO, LabourNet Services, is a doctorate in Development Studies with more than 23 years of consistent work for the less privileged in India.
Primarily a research scholar on gender issues, she has spent the initial years of her career in the villages of India, exploring at the grass root level. During this period, she also consulted with UNDP, UNICEF, NORAD, Work Bank, among others, related to development initiatives for the underprivileged.
In 1999, Gayathri joined the International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, with an intention to make a difference for the poverty-stricken nations of the world. She co-founded LabourNet in 2006 with a vision to enable livelihoods and enhance quality of life through Education, Employability and Entrepreneurship. Her untiring efforts have already touched half a million lives, empowering men and women to earn a decent living and become entrepreneurs. Gayathri has held several advisory posts in the Government including Member – Aadhaar (UIDA), Member – BOCCW, Govt of Haryana and Member – Rashtriya Mahila Khosh (RMK). Besides this, she is Member of Recognition of Prior Learning Projects, DGET and CII – National Skills Committee and National Sports Committee as well as Chairwoman of Indian Woman Network (IWN) Southern Regional Council Karnataka.
Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
As an individual, I have always been keen to do something that would bring about positive incremental changes in the socioeconomic status of the less fortunate segments of the population in a holistic way. A full-time research on gender issues took me to rural India that provided a firsthand experience of the life and day-to-day challenges faced by the people in our villages. In order to continue my work in the socioeconomic sphere and develop long-term strategies to better lives of the less privileged worldwide, I joined the International Labour Organization (ILO). Eight years later, LabourNet, a social enterprise established for enabling livelihoods, was founded.
Presently, I drive the vision and mission of LabourNet, striving to fulfill my dream of empowering the youth, especially women, through Employability, Education and Entrepreneurship.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
LabourNet began its journey as a training organization imparting vocational training to men, women and youth in urban and rural India. Over time, we have broadened our spectrum of solutions. Currently, our solution framework encompass facilitating equitable education and employment through multi-trade skill development, certification, employment and sector-specific entrepreneurship, HR staffing and business solutions with long term impact on community through strategic partnerships.
In the coming days, we are focusing on international partnerships. We look forward to extending our knowledge and expertise globally and becoming valuable training partners for corporates that wish to impact livelihoods through CSR initiatives in skill development. We wish to promote highest quality in our deliveries across all verticals. While our skilling interventions are equipping individuals with the necessary skills to earn a livelihood, we make sure that they are actually able to utilize their skills in the form of employability with the help of our staffing solutions. We are hoping to provide similar assistance to those who wish to begin micro enterprises after completion of their training.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
LabourNet’s vision was ahead of its times when I co-founded it a decade ago. The biggest challenge I faced in the beginning of my entrepreneurial venture was to convince our target audience in our model. Without substantial precedents, it was difficult for individuals, corporates and government to envisage our strategy. However, as our model began to bear fruit, we were able to go back to our clients with concrete results to substantiate our claims.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
LabourNet’s vision and mission has always been my personal mission. Therefore, finding it take shape and turn into reality is what I consider as a personal achievement. While there is more to look forward to in the coming years, I am happy to observe that we are working in the right direction.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
Right from the beginning of my career, my focus has always been to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged by bringing a holistic change in their livelihoods. There is scope for development in rural India that has been my primary objective and my work has revolved around this. I cannot imagine doing anything but this. Seeing myself where I am and what lies ahead, I would not want to be anywhere else.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
I look up to Muhammad Yunus as my biggest inspiration. He has taken groundbreaking strides as the founder of Grameen Bank that motivates me to continue with my work as livelihood enabler.
What does the future hold for you?
LabourNet’s model integrates education and health with employment and entrepreneurship to ensure lifelong livelihoods through sustainable growth. We are looking forward to empowering the men, women and youth of India with the help of this well-rounded model. We are also poised to take our expertise to the international market through meaningful partnerships with entities that have shared goals and objectives.