Gitali Thakur

Upaya Invests in Kolkata-based Maitri Livelihood Services, Promotes Expansion of Sahayika Caregiver Program in India's Northeast

Upaya Social Ventures is proud to announce that it has invested in Kolkata-based caregivers training and placement company Maitri Livelihood Services Private Limited (Maitri).

Maitri recruits, trains, certifies, and creates fair and dignified employment opportunities for women from vulnerable backgrounds in East and Northeast India through its flagship “Sahayika” (one who helps) initiative. The company will receive funding and business development support through Upaya’s LiftUP Project framework.

“Domestic workers are vulnerable to socio-economic exploitation because they are unorganized and poorly skilled.  At the same time, millions of employers find it difficult to get skilled, reliable, trustworthy domestic workers. Maitri’s Sahayika programme is hence designed to assure dignity,  recognition and fair wage to domestic workers. While doing so, Maitri is also addressing a pressing problem faced by millions of families in urban India.” said Maitri’s founder and Managing Director, Gitali Thakur, an Assam native and 13 year veteran of livelihood promotion. “The company is building a safe ecosystem for women who would otherwise be vulnerable to an informal sector fraught with exploitative agents and little regulation,” said Thakur.

The Sahayika initiative is designed to build both the technical and interpersonal skills needed by domestic workers. Sahayikas receive training on a variety of home-based care services including cooking and housekeeping, child care (including health and safety skills), and geriatric and patient care. The company also verifies that the prospective employer’s household does not have a history of issues with domestic service workers, sets clear expectations for the nature of work, and briefs the family on the prospective Sahayika’s background, skills, and employment preferences. Furthermore, Maitri takes this time to educate each Sahayika on her employee rights including a regular salary, paid leave, a bank account, and other benefits enjoyed by her formal service sector counterparts. This extra effort creates trust and an open communication channel between Maitri, the Sahayikas, and the family.

Maitri is currently placing Sahayikas through two centers in Guwahati, Assam. It is also in the process of launching four new centers across Assam and Kolkata. Each center places a minimum of 25 Sahayikas per month.

“Maitri’s creation of dignified, stable jobs with opportunities for skill building makes it a natural fit within Upaya’s LiftUP Project framework,” said Upaya’s Director, Business Development Sreejith Nedumpully. “Maitri’s commitment to its Sahayikas allows each woman to not only earn a higher wage but also possess a greater degree of dignity and self-respect,” said Nedumpully.