09 December 2019

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Dr. Nirmala Prasad: The Power of being Different

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MOP Vaishnav college for women in  Nungambakkam, Chennai  is committed to the goals of attracting and supporting top caliber women students, and is the only college functioning in the city with an exclusive Entrepreneurial Development cell to boast.. The ED cell was formed in 1998, and is the brain child of the principal Dr Nirmala  Prasad. The latter believes in the ideology that women ought to be different and not shackle themselves to just home or a 9 to 5 corporate job, but ought to learn how to strike a balance between home and career by venturing into more entrepreneurial ventures.

The ED cell was formed in MOP Vaishnav college under the guidance ship of Canara Bank. The General Manager of Canara Bank was Mr Fernandes who offered all support , guidance and assistance  in forming this unique venture, first of its kind ,in a college in the city. Ms Sumathi Iyer , head of women entrepreneurship cell of Canara bank , too played a crucial role in the inception of the ED cell.

Ms Rosy Fernando, the head of the department of commerce and dean of student training and development, secretary of the ED cell, was most supportive and encouraging in sharing with us information about the ED cell and its various projects. “If intellectual advancement enables a woman to think for herself, financial security empowers her with the freedom to act “opines Ms Rosy Fernando.

Vocational and skill based training is imparted to the students of this college, that gives an added edge over others in facing stiff competition in securing placements as well as performing jobs. Twenty one special vocational skills are offered as a compulsory project for the students. They may select one each during their tenure in the college, plus select more vocational training projects, if they are able to complete it within a span of three years. To name a few, cake architecture, web designing, anchoring and photography, writing for FM radio,media presentation, TV news production, etc are some of the special training courses offered.

The first project undertaken by the ED cell after its inception was the Innovative Self Employment Venture competition . Students came up with innovative ideas galore.Abhiramika, a student of MOP, completed a project called Vector Vibes , successfully. It involved undertaking and making presentations of and on behalf of the government. One should note that it was way back in the nineties when computers were relatively new to government offices ,  Abhiramika came up with this project in mind. Yet another student came up with a venture to popularize diamond jewellery among the upper middle class , thus shattering the myth that the same was exclusively only for the elite. Now, with t he assistance of the entrepreneurial cell of Canara Bank, this student entrepreneur has transformed into reality her dream project and is the proud proprietor of her own diamond shop in the city. The judging panel for the innovative self-employment project comprises of a banker, experts in the industry, a marketing person, an entrepreneur and an academician. The same panels help in identifying and funding these budding entrepreneurs to make their dreams come true.

MOP has an entire database of women entrepreneurs who have come out with creative ideas and been assisted to set up business.For instance, in fields like cosmetology, flower bouquet making, tribal art, madhubani paintings, continental cookery, the list goes on.Experts in all these arenas visit MOP to give lectures and teach them the skills of their choice.Seminars, workshops and exhibitions are conducted. Students learn communication, presentation skills, analytical skills, gain confidence and a sense of achievement gets instilled in them.

 The much needed hands on experience for grooming the student entrepreneur is provided through the annual conduct of the MOP Bazaar,.This is functional every year in March.Initially , the college hosted 44 stalls. Now , the count has gone up meteorically to an amazing 110 stalls.The MOP Bazaar is modeled on the lines of the trade centre. By taking care of the manufacturing, service and retail aspects of entrepreneurship, students learn to look at the big picture.They learn to think across disciplines, join hands and pool in ideas, self help and importance of team work is emphasized.

Thus, within three years, a graduation student gets incubator training to become a full fledged successful entrepreneur.They learn to source the material, handle customers,and assess the market_ much needed skills for an entrepreneur.During MOP bazaar, minimum profit grossed from each stall is Rs 2000 and a maximum of 25000 in just two days. Thus, the students learn to make profits.

A unique experience to convert knowledge into practice is provided at the college. Bsc(N&D) run a health cafeteria, Bsc (ISM) manage the information system of the college, Bsc electronic media  develop e –content and manage the campus tv, BA. journalism bring out the college newspaper MOP Yuvashakthi.
 The four pronged methodology helps them to get good placements._ internship, industry-institution synergy, institutional membership, and  placement.

By undergoing internship in their chosen fields, and submitting a project report, students learn to accept the challenges of the industry.Concerted efforts are taken by MOP to have n industry institution interface.Impressed by the competence and work culture of the students, many companies offer job placements even before completion of graduation. Heads of SME associations from all over the state and governmental institutions are invited to speak and guide these budding enterpreneurs.Officials of EXIM BANK talk about fair trade practices and export procedures. Entrepreneurially inclined films are telecast regularly_ films like GURU and October sky..

MOP has till date mentored more than a hundred successful women entrepreneurs, truly a rare achievement. Mini Mehta was a Bcom student with a very creative bend of mind and keenly interested in creative jewellery making.Rosy Fernando, secretary of ED Cell, identified her talent,helped her to get into a design institute in Surat,.On completion of the course,Mini returned to Chennai, and with the ED cell of MOP, started her own jewellery outlet at Mint, Chennai. Ms Madhu, a VISCOM student, conceptualised and formed her own multi media enterprise_ Fanti cart. A maths graduate runs her own textile printing workshop in Mylapore.

Mentoring is an important aspect of the ED cell. Mr Mahadevan of Hot breads visits MOP  to identify and mentor personally, anyone interested or inclined to start a bakery or confectionary.

 Dr Nirmala Prasad does not intend to stop with just mentoring her students. She aspires to extend this to the underprivileged sections of the society , thereby inculcating in MOP ians the lofty ideals of social entrepreneurship too.MOP has adopted schools and during brief vacations, MOPians go to theseschools and teach them vocational skills,.. Thus, seeds of entepreneurship are sown in the young minds. Avvay home in Adayar, Nungambakkam corporation school,  Assumption school,  are a few institutions adopted by MOP. Students learn cosmetology and jewellery making as vocational skills here. Seminars in financial literacy in free enterprise too is imparted here.Funding for these social entrepreneurship is undertaken exclusively by MOP.

Akrithi, is a company run by students of Bcom corporate Secretaryship.This Company is into conducting event management programs Dividend is declared each year and students and faculty are the share holders…

The ED cell helps students to interact with MSME bodies and officials.

It is Dr Nirmala  Prasad’s dream to mould students on entrepreneurial lines and deviate from the trodden path._ be entrepreneurs and provide employment to millions and to broaden the Indian economic scenario. MOP Vaishnav is a member of the National Enterprise Network.

Ms Rosy Fernando, secretary of the ED cell, was motivated herself to do research on entrepreneurship and has submitted her thesis on entrepreneurial potential in students. The ISTD students cell functions here. The Indian society for Training and Development is a national body formed for the e purpose of training and developing executives, and entrepreneurs. The student’s cell. Under the patronage of the parent body ISTD Chennai chapter, has grown from strength to strength.

 We wish the students and staff of this great institution all success in moulding and creating women entrepreneurs of great repute and caliber.


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