‘Giving up is not an option,’ says Pavithra from e-Vindhya InfoMedia

With full dedication, Pavithra YS of e-Vindhya InfoMedia, made her mark by creating job opportunities for people with disabilities for its operations in data management, data entry, processing and conversion

Seven years ago, Pavithra YS started Vindhya e-InfoMedia in Bengaluru as a unique social-economic BPO (business process outsourcing) unit with a unique workforce of differently abled people. It is probably the only for-profit organisation, which, as a matter of policy, employees mainly people with disabilities (PwD) as its production staff. Today, two-thirds of Vindya’s employees are people with disabilities, so much so that sign language is the official language at Vindhya. Last year, the company had a turnover of Rs4 crore and Pavithra aims to double it to Rs9crore this year with its unique workforce. Though the turnover is low compared to the number of employees, she declined to disclose the company’s profit figures.


Vindhya’s clients include Airtel, IBM, Titan and Wipro among others. Her unique initiative won Pavithra, the managing partner of Vindya, many awards and recognitions. 


Read an excerpt of her interview to Hitisha Jain of Moneylife (ML):


ML: Tell us about your business and how it was started?


Pavithra YS (PYS): To achieve the goal of enabling employment for people with disabilities (PwD) and ensuring that they can become the bread winners for their family Vindhya was founded on 4 July 2006 with two employees on board. They say small drops of water make an ocean, so what started as a company with two employees has now grown to be a 500+ strong organization today and is emerging as one of the key providers of outstanding customer services to channel partners. Vindhya e-Infomedia provides IT and ITES services by connecting the world with people with disabilities.  We deliver high quality, reliable, scalable back office and contact centre solutions. Our team works collaboratively to craft solutions that address the requirement of business and ensure superior customer satisfaction.


ML: What inspired you to set up this organization?

PYS: Vindhya wanted to bring together business and philanthropy. Persons with disabilities are mostly ignored by mainstream society and they have very limited opportunity to join the mainstream. Providing employment opportunities to them, and helping them emerge as confident and competent individuals in this world, was a burning problem and we decided to address this need through Vindhya.


ML: How do you deal with the glitches that are often a part of starting a new business?

PYS: Glitches are part of any venture, as a team we are very strong and never looked back. We created a better environment today mostly because we learnt how to deal with the glitches that we faced initially. In the process we have learnt a lot more about disability. Sign language was one of the essential means of communication with the hearing impaired, which we made the official language at Vindhya. We also realised that people travel to work from far off places, so we also created accommodation for them.


ML: What drives you to work every day?

PYS: My employees, their dedication and commitment are a true inspiration of many and that’s the main driving force for me to work every day.


ML: What plans do you have for your business?

PYS: We are in a growth phase at present. From being a small company we are now a mid-sized organisation. On the business front, we would like to venture into more complex business segments and take up challenging assignments and also mark our presence across the globe. Vindhya at present employs around 600 employees. The goal is to increase it to 5,000 Vindhyans by the end of 2020.


ML: Who are the main supporters?

PYS: We are funded by Michael Dell and Susan Dell Foundation and Accion Investors.  And most importantly, my customers and my employees (Vindhyans) are my supporters.


ML: Why is it important to encourage entrepreneurship in India, especially among women?

PYS: Entrepreneurship is primarily an opportunity whereby you can make a difference through your ideas and vision. The difference can impact may a small number of individuals to a big population. One of the best things entrepreneurs do is to stay motivated and embrace challenges that surround themselves with encouraging people who support their pursuits.


Historically women have always been underplayed in this male dominated society. For centuries, women have been confined only to four walls of the home. Currently we are in world where we have made significant technological advancements and are taking big leaps forward. We always talk about gender equality, so what better forum to make it happen than providing an opportunity for a women entrepreneur to come forward in this world and make a difference. Also women are known for their multi-tasking, patience, ability to motivate and create a better environment, which is all required for an entrepreneur to grow an organization.


ML: What are your main sources of finance?

PYS: The Company started with self funding. Later, we took a loan from a public sector bank. After that, the company is supported by Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.


ML: What were the biggest challenges you faced as a woman entrepreneur?

PYS: To be very honest, there was no challenge as a women entrepreneur but I faced challenges as an entrepreneur, like anyone else. I have a highly supportive husband, who is always with me without giving me a reason to think about gender in performing my duties at work.

ML: What are the best ways to connect in your industry – which national and local networking organizations, conferences have you found most valuable? 

PYS: I have been part of a lot of events and felt that most of them focus on networking. Among them Sankalp is one such event which is been very educative and powerful and also others like the NASSCOM forum are also good.

ML: What plans do you have for the future for your company?

PYS: Vindhya is focusing towards becoming a largest social enterprise by being the best BPO’s, providing quality support to our customers and we would definitely focus on expansion and the same is already on plan.


ML: What are your tips for women entrepreneurs trying to make it in a competitive world?

PYS: One important thing is to please focus on your organisation’s profitability, as you need to sustain, so make some money. As a women entrepreneur we miss on the networking aspect, please make use of this. Finally, do not give up!


(In the run up to International Women’s Day on 8th March, Moneylife will run a series of Women Entrepreneurs who have made a mark. If you know women who ought to be featured in this series, do write to us with details at [email protected]. And if you are a women entrepreneur wanting to expand your business and grow, do keep in touch with our not-for-profit entity at foundation.moneylife.in - we have some news in store)

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    thakur kailash

    5 years ago

    pavitra ys,a very commendable job not only for self employment rather creating sizable job opportunities too ,say ,at present 600,specially unenabled humanbeings,really,gladdening the allmighty god.hope u might be feeling
    inner peace & job satisfaction.
    alas,u can extend ur activies to bhagalpur.district & commissionery of bihar state ,wherein the deprived people do require yr generous hands &
    feelings .
    i m keenly interested in serving suffering humanity,but no technical know-how.
    i m a retd.class-one officer with no family responsibility & possessing sound physique & mind.
    could u think to serve the people of bihar,we shall be very thankful to u & yr parents & i will manage the office as i possess vast administrative & banking experiences.i do possess teaching experience at post-graduate level too.
    i m hopefully waiting for yr positive response.
    thanks & regards.
    kailash thakur,ex-professor &retd.joint commissioner aged 67yrs

    How banks create their own NPAs

    Handholding of a new borrower increases business possibility for future. Banks can be strict as a lender at right time but should be ready to act as friend and guide of the borrower, when required

    I have always believed that banks need to do handholding, especially of those entrepreneurs who are new and need counselling about running their business. They need to closely monitor the account once they sanction a loan and make sure that the money is utilised ONLY for the purpose for which it is lent. Any mis-use must be spotted quickly. This will help them in managing difficult accounts that may turn into non-performing assets (NPAs) at later stage. Banks seem to think that the borrower needs them more than they need him. This is wrong thinking. They both need each other equally. Having a good borrower is in the interest of the bank and also having a friendly bank that tries to understand the business of the borrower and help him establish, is in the interest of both of them. And when I say friendly, I am not suggesting a bank that gives in to every wish of the borrower!

    I have come across a case recently where the bank seems to be terrorising borrower for some reason. I must confess here that I only know the borrower’s story. The borrower imported some machinery. The machinery took two months of installation. Even after that some problems arose and the production commenced only after about nine months. The bank should have actually offered moratorium to the borrower, but strangely insisted on repayment right from the beginning. I suspect that the instalments were paid from the cash credit account, which was allowed be used for this by the bank. Working capital is for the operation of business and if no activity was taking place why was it disbursed at all?

    As the production stabilised, the company realized that it lacked working capital. The company also made the mistake of supplying goods and ignored receivables. The receivables became bad after some time.

    The bank then invoked the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002, (SARFAESI Act) and sent a legal notice to the borrower asking him to clear his cash credit account. The borrower somehow managed to raise some money from distributors and offered to clear the account by 31st March. As per the agreement, he started paying up. However, the bank kept threatening him with seizure of assets. The company wrote to the bank giving details of repayment schedule. Curiously and completely illegally, the bank refused to accept the letter. Bank has no right to refuse for accepting a communication by its client. The client panicked.  They should have sent the letter by registered AD and also should have mailed it to the bank. He should have taken up the matter with the branch as well as the Banking Ombudsman. But the power of the bank is so much he was plainly afraid to do this.

    This bank has also appointed an agency to deal with clients who owe money to them. So the concerned officers probably have no say in the matter. The matter should be handled by the branch, which made the loan, but it was being handled by a third party and bank’s office in Pune/ Mumbai.

    It is my understanding that the borrower has not done things in a way he should have. The bank did not monitor the account at all. They seem to have visited the factory only once. When there was the prospect of the account becoming bad, it became apparent that the bank panicked and started using strong arm tactics basically to save itself.

    The point is the bank should have taken more interest in the account. This is small scale industries (SSI) unit as the total investment is under Rs3 crore. They should have made sure that a reasonable moratorium on term loan was given. The borrower had no idea about this. Bank should have made sure that working capital was not disbursed in one go and should have monitored the usage of the limit closely. Bank seemed to be happy that the borrower was paying instalments of the term loan without being bothered about the source of the money. Had they monitored the account things would not have come to this stage.

    The company has now stabilised production and marketing activities. They will now need the working capital. It is at this juncture they find they will have no working capital! This will adversely impact their cash flows from which alone they can regularly pay the instalments of their term loan!

    From my experience as a banker and in the field of non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), I have learnt that it pays to be in constant touch with a borrower. The borrower must be encouraged to tell you the truth. He would do that only if you are able to convince him that it is also in lender’s interest that the borrower does well. Handholding of a new borrower increases business possibility for future. Be strict with the borrower at the right time. Be his friend and guide when required.

    I have always maintained that banks create their own NPAs. This is one example of it. Once bank has accepted a proposal as bankable, it must strive to see that it remains bankable.

    In many private sector banks, the training required in this area appears to be pathetic. The loan marketing (I hate that word) and sanctioning is done by someone who has no role in monitoring the loan! This is a systematic system risk that the banks seem to be glad to accept!

    I am sure there are numerous such stories in every bank. I get to hear some sordid things that are happening in the nationalized banks as well.

    Banking has to cautious only. I am an orthodox banker who believes that we must start suspecting every borrower and see how he can cheat us and then plug all those possibilities. Sanction a loan only after this. And once it is sanctioned, closely monitor new accounts for first few years. This is the time when many new entrepreneurs fail.  And many fail because their banks are unprofessional and fail them!

    (Prof Anil Agashe teaches at Symbiosis and other management schools in Pune).

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    Dayananda Kamath k

    4 years ago

    You havr given the golden rule for bankers which they hsve abandoned. That is the crux of problem for todays banking crisis


    4 years ago

    I totally agree with Prof Atul Agashe's assertion
    Problems Arise From,Not knowing enough.
    Not asking relevant questions. Failing to analyse all the relevant data.This culminates in POOR CREDIT DECISIONS that lead to,Approving unsound loans.and Rejecting perfectly sound credit.

    Simple Indian

    6 years ago

    For quite sometime Banks have been falling over each other to woo businessmen and private enterprises for big-ticket investments or loans, ignoring the more disciplined and safer individual investors. This has led to higher NPAs, as Banks sanction loans to businesses at a consideration, hoping for higher stakes in future. This has come to light in various scams involving unscrupulous businessmen and Bank staff being hand-in-glove. Banking is all about trust, and PSU Banks have gone from bad to worse, particularly since private Banks have come up.
    Sadly, even RBI and other regulatory mechanisms haven't helped curb the delinquent behavior of many of the Banks known for repeatedly breaking RBI's and their own rules.

    Hemlata Mohan

    6 years ago

    Almost 50% of NPAs are created by banks themselves by not understanding the transactions/ the credit requirements and TIMELY as well as ADEQUATE dispensation of credit.
    The understaffing in banks and the reluctance of employees and/ or lack of skill only compounds the problem . Credit monitoring and supervision , which are so critical are given the go by for maintaining day to day routines. Staffing and right staffing, to be precise, has not been commensurate with the growth in business. This sorry state of affairs is going to be more acute as many of the old , experienced staff are retiring in the next 4 years!

    Yerram Raju Behara

    6 years ago

    A development banker never ignores the health of either the enterprise or entrepreneur. Unfortunately, these are countable few. I cited a large number of cases in my book co-authored with R.R. Pujari: 'the Small Entrepreneur - Starting and growing (2009). Unfortunately, bank supervisors that can't get entry into a corporate without appointment twist the arms of the hapless small entrepreneurs with the aid of SARAESI Act. But there are bankers and banks and progressive bankers take correct view and also help the borrowers rehabilitate, though exceptionally.
    This happens because there is no legal exit route for the small entrepreneurs. Second, banks though tied up with the CGTMSE, still do not lend without collateral up to the designated threshold limits only to behave in the manner described by Prof Anil Agashe.

    Gopalakrishnan T V

    6 years ago

    Banks do create NPAs because of the NOn performance by its Directors, management and other human resources. Directors sanction loans based on their personal preferences, whims and fancies,management ignores the dissatisfactory performance by the indisciplined borrowers, other human resources themselves do not perform nor allow the auditors to perform their duties.Smart borrowers know all these, they exploit by looting the banks. RBI has only very limited say and they only identify the NPAs after it comes to light in their won way. Government knows the entire game and it keeps mum as it has a stake in the formation of NPAs.

    Ramesh Jaradhara

    6 years ago

    I agree with Prof Anil Agashe that banks create their own NPAs. To a large extent it is true in PSBs because the staff handling lending activities are not professional in their outlook and attitude.As an officer in PSB I understand that while considering a loan proposal much of the emphasis has been given on aspects like collateral security, third party guarantee, etc., instead of analysis of future prospects, adding value to bank's client base, friendly relations with the customer.Staff efficiency is the essence of good business in banking. Mediocrity is the rule not an exception in PSBs.The recent happenings in UBI proves it.

    Increase agriculture exports instead of resorting to floor price ideas
    India must ensure taking the opportunity to push its export, targeting, particularly the Middle East, Africa and South Asia instead of resorting to ‘floor price’ ideas, which may not work all the time
    According to the statistical data available, thanks to the timely monsoon, which was good and evenly spread out, the Agriculture Ministry projects a record foodgrains output of over 263.20 million tonnes, as against last year's bounty of 257.13 million tonnes.  Rice production has been projected at 106.19 million tonnes and wheat at 95.60 million, coarse cereals at 30.11 mt, pulses at 19.77 mt and oilseeds at 32.98 mt.  Whole sale inflation is reported to have eased to an eight month low of 5.05% for January in food prices, mainly vegetables, with retail inflation also reached a 2 year low!
    After China, India is the 2nd largest producer of wheat, with the main production being concentrated in UP (31.93%), Punjab (18.21%), Haryana (13.37%),  MP (12.16%), Rajasthan (9.82%) and Bihar (4.98%).  Domestic consumption has been estimated at about 85 to 90 million tonnes (mt).  It may be borne in mind that India is the 3rd largest consumer in the world, after China and the European Union. Though China produces about 121 mt, imports are likely to be around 9 to 9.5 mt this year. India is likely to export about 5.5 mt.
    As at the beginning of last year, the total storage capacity of Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies was estimated at 72 mt, consisting of 53 mt of covered space and 19 mt under cover and plinth (CAP).  According to Tejinder Narang, a grains trader and analyst of repute, government needs only 30 mt in the central pool by June 2014 for targeted public distribution system and flour millers. The disposable and exportable surplus may vary between 23 mt  and 28 mt and, at an economical cost of Rs20,000 a tonne, the wheat stocks could be worth Rs56,000 crore or roughly $6 billion!  
    The international market price hovers around $270-275 a tonne and India must ensure taking the opportunity to push its export, targeting, particularly the Middle East, Africa and South Asia instead of resorting to "floor price" ideas, which may not work all the time.
    One of the well developed markets, for instance, for Indian agricultural products, has been Iran, which has been cooperative and understanding enough to accept, part payment, in rupees, for their oil supplies to India. Indian soya bean production has been estimated at 12.2 mt, out of which as much as 1.91 mt, in the form of soya meal, has gone to Iran, which has become the largest buyer.  Japan and the European Union (EU) also imported the soya meal.  In view of the very large harvests of soya bean in both Brazil and Argentina, reported in the press, it is in our interest to press ahead with supplies to the traditional Indian markets of Iran, Japan and EU, and the advantage gained so far, should not be lost, should the Latin American suppliers resort to push the prices down!
    In the meantime, there has been a lot of debate about the excess sugar in the country and the urgent need to export raw sugar. The industry sought the government assistance for subsidy, and to overcome various troubles faced, the Food Ministry proposed an export subsidy of Rs2,000 per tonne, while Sharad Pawar, Agriculture Minister recommend Rs3,500 which, finally, was settled at Rs3,333 by the Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs, confirming that this rate will be reviewed after2 million tonnes have been shipped out of the country.  This subsidy is likely to result in our total raw sugar export of about 4 mt.
    One other area, where success has been noticed, is in the production of pulses in the country, which has now reached a record 19.8 mt in 2013-14 (estimates) against 18.4 mt last year. Gram or Chana harvest has also been projected to reach 9.8 mt (against 8.8 mt).  The only fly in the ointment has been the ban on export of pulses (except for kabuli chana) for the last several years. This ban should now be lifted, without any fear that our competitors may undermine our sales efforts. The production of pulses the world over has increased.
    The most important thing to remember is the irrefutable fact of the very large number of Indians living and working in the Middle East.  While exact figures are not available, millions of them toil in the harsh climate there and remit their hard earned foreign exchange back to the country. It is especially for them, there needs to be a consideration of relaxation of rules pertaining to what they need, pulses or other items of day to day use, and such bans should not apply!
    (AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
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