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PepsiCo Foundation and Smile Foundationempower rural women in Kancheepuram District through Project Thiramai

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Kancheepuram, May 10, 2017:As part of its community development initiatives, PepsiCo Foundation in association with Smile Foundation, held a convocation ceremony to felicitate 235 women students graduating from its vocational training program called Project Thiramai.

Started in the aftermath of the 2015 Chennai floods to equip underprivileged women with skills for improving their livelihood, Project Thiramaiprovides free vocational training to women across 12 villages in Kancheepuram district, and is funded by PepsiCo Foundation. Women beneficiaries from the first two batches of the course were felicitated with certificates and a free sewing machine.

The convocation ceremony was presided over by Thiru MC Sampath, Hon’ble Minister for Industries; and Thiru P Thangamani, Hon’ble Minister for Electricity, Excise & Prohibition, Government of Tamil Nadu. Other dignitaries attending the ceremony included Dr. K N Ramachandran,Hon’ble MP, Sriperumbudur, Mrs. K Margaratham, Hon’ble MP, Kancheepuram and Mr. S. Pugazhenthi, Hon’ble MLA, Madurantakam.

Mr. SanjeevDham, Chief Operating Officer, Smile Foundation said: “It gives us great pleasure to see the positive impact that we have managed to create in Kancheepuram district through the community development program in aasociation with PepsiCo Foundation. Rehabilitation work in the aftermath of the any natural calamity is critical to help cimmunities regain their standing. The women who have chosen to attend the program have faced many diversities in their life. Many of them are physically challenged, and yet they have all come forward to empower themselves through the skill development program. We saute their spirit and congratulate our first batch of women graduates and wish them all the very best for their future.”

Project Thiramaiis currently providing a vocational training course in tailoring through four training centres, with certificates and free sewing machine to be given to beneficiaries at the end of the course. The program also aims to provide graduating students with employment opportunities with business houses in the area. The women graduating from the program have been offered
employment with garment manufacturing facilities in the area, and can choose to work from home or to work at a manufacturing facility.

Ms. PoonamKaul, Vice President – CSR, PepsiCo India said:“We are proud of the brave women from Kancheepuram district who have chosen to be economically empowered. A key focus of PepsiCo Foundation’s community development and rehabilitation initiative with Smile Foundation was on livelihood enhancement for underprivileged families in villages around our manufacturing plant in Mamandur. This was a key development need expressed by the people in these villages, and so we looked at options to empower women in these families to support and improve livelihoods. There are several garment manufacturing units around this belt, but there was a dearth of skilled tailoringworkforce in these villages. Project Thiramai provides the necessary tailoring skills to women to help them bridge that gap, opening up opportunities for them to take up employment at these factories or to work from their home as entrepreneurs, if they so choose.”

PepsiCo Foundation launched a unique community development and rehabilitation programme across 12 villages such as Mamandur, Thabalmedu (Palamathur), Natarajapuram, Nelvoy and Salavakkam among others, focused on healthandlivelihood enhancement, implemented by Smile Foundation. The initiatve has been running three programmesacross these villages – Smile On Wheels mobile health vans, a School Health Programme and Project Thiramai for Women Empowerment through Vocational Training.

As part of Project Thiramai, four vocational training centershave been set up in Mamandur, Nelvoy Road, Salavakkam and AP Chathiram. The curriculum of the three-month programmehas been designed by professionals and it includes training to stitchi different garments for children and ladies.The training also includesrepair and management of the sewing machine so that students are not dependent on external help,whichis costly and time-consuming.While designing the curriculum, special attention was also paid on the holistic development of these women. Yoga and meditation classes, as well as awareness on nutrition were also made part of the curriculum so that their entire family could benefit from the program.

PepsiCo India has been a partner and a contributor to the growth of Tamil Nadusince 1989. PepsiCo India and its partners have five manufacturing facilities in the State, creating employment for more than 15,000 people through manufacturing, sales and distribution initiatives. The company currently works with more than 400 farmers across the State for better cultivation practices and sourcing. Its Direct Seeding initiative for rice has helped farmers reduce the water consumption by 30%, and helped save 1.5 billion liters of water in Tamil Nadu alone in 2015.

Further, in times of distress in the State, PepsiCo India has been at the forefront to provide relief. During the floods of 2015, PepsiCo India mobilized its sales team and factory staff to deliver relief to people. Over 1.4million liters of Aquafina water and 38,000kg of Quaker oats were distributed during the time.

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