On the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on December 3rd, Dr. Reddy’s Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, was conferred with the prestigious National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in New Delhi by the Honourable President of India. Dr. Reddy’s Foundation received the award under the category ‘Best Placement Agency for Persons with Disabilities’ as recognition of its contribution to the empowerment of persons with disabilities through its community initiative ‘GROW for Persons with Disabilities’ (GROW PwD). The Honourable President of India Smt. Droupadi Murmu presented the award to Satish Reddy, Chairman, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., and Dr. Reddy’s Foundation. Other members of the team who attended the felicitation ceremony included Shamik Trehan, CEO, Dr. Reddy’s Foundation, and Srilakshmi B., Lead – PwD, Dr. Reddy’s Foundation.
In 1999, Dr. Reddy’s Foundation (DRF) initiated the Livelihood Advancement Business School (LABS) initiative for skilling. In 2010, LABS was extended to include a programme for persons with disabilities (LABS PwD). In 2016, LABS PwD was re-modelled as GROW PwD. The programme currently caters to 11 different disabilities, including physical disabilities, vision impairment, speech and hearing impairment, intellectual disability, autism, and others. The programme operates in 16 states and 39 locations, and trains around 5,000 youth every year. GROW has successfully trained over 27,000 persons with disabilities so far with an employment placement rate of 65%. As a sixty-day full-time programme, GROW provides training in core employability skills to aspirants for entry-level jobs across sectors. All training centers are supported by sign language interpreters to deliver training to the youth with speech and hearing impairments. An exclusive IT platform has been developed to maintain students’ databases, and an algorithm helps match aspirations with available jobs. DRF has also partnered with the Skill Council for Persons with Disability (SCPWD) for greater visibility and impact. It aims to provide advanced level training for graduates with disabilities to place them in multi-national companies, taking training deep into rural areas for skilling and employment opportunities within the local community. This is carried out through a hub-and-spoke programme and also sector-specific training especially in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) sectors.