The World Bank has identified empowerment as one of the key constituent elements of poverty reduction and a primary development assistance goal. NITI Aayog, in its ‘Action Agenda Draft’ released on April 2017, stressed on the importance of promoting equal participation of women in the Indian economy. The Aayog’s 2017-20 agenda also stated that women tend to be paid less, work in less productive jobs, and are over-represented in unpaid care work. Various CSR activities by companies have provided a platform as well as vocational courses and employment opportunities to the underprivileged.
The Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies has initiated an extensive CSR programme to assist the underprivileged.
Vivek Mungat, a visually impaired person from Delhi, told BE, “I did not know what to do with my life and did not want to be dependent on others. I took the vocational training course at Shasight, started by Shahnaz Husain. I got the opportunity and confidence to earn my own living. Now I am employed at a Shahnaz Salon and am happily independent.”
Shruti Sarkar, 23 years, who hails from Cooch Behar, West Bengal, told BE, “After I completed their ethnic beauty care course, I started doing door-to-door beauty treatments. I was so happy when I handed over my first month’s income to my mother. Today I earn around `9000/- per month.”
BE’s Ankita Chakraborty spoke to Shahnaz Husain, Chairperson and Managing Director, Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies on the CSR activities initiated by her company.
Q. You are a beauty icon. What motivated you to start a skill development programme for the underprivileged? How are they trained?
I had set up my beauty training academy in 1975 because I knew the importance of vocational training. I also wanted to empower the physically challenged to make them financially independent and started free beauty training courses for the speech and hearing impaired in 1984. It was inaugurated by the late President of India, Gaini Zail Singh. Later, we started Shasight, for the visually impaired. Since we have a beauty training academy, we decided tie up with government projects for skill development for under-privileged women in beauty and wellness sector. My academy in Delhi does the lesson planning, training and certifying of these students. We also distribute free tool kits, so that they can start home-based businesses.
Recently, I became a Harvard Case Study on Brand Creation. Harvard conducted my video interview on its “Creating Emerging Markets” project, which will be a subject and part of curriculum for Management students. Earlier I was a Harvard Case Study and now I am a Subject.
Q. With Shamute and Shasight, you offer free beauty training courses to the speech and visually impaired. How far are they successful?
A. We offer free beauty training courses to the speech and hearing as well as the visually impaired. At the end of the course the students are given the Shahnaz Husain Beauty Diploma Certificate that helps them to find jobs and lead meaningful lives. We also employ many of them and provide help in finding suitable jobs. I have also written a book on beauty, which has been put in Braille. I had also taken the visually impaired students to Rashtrapati Bhavan to receive blessings from the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, after they successfully completed their course. Recently, Harvard University conducted my video interview on its “Creating Emerging Markets” project, which will be a subject and part of curriculum for management students.
Q. How are you involved with the cancer patients?
A. An article which I had read on cancer and the side effects of chemotherapy had a deep impact on me. It said that cancer cases are expected to surge in the next 25 years. Chemotherapy, the treatment given for cancer, has several side-effects and one of the most visible and distressing of the side effects are related to hair loss and skin problems. We started our research and formulated out Chemoline products based on ayurvedic ingredients. Subsequently, we have sent our Chemoline products free of cost to cancer hospitals like Sloan Kettering, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre, Dharamshila Cancer Hospital, MNJ Cancer Hospital and Tata Memorial among others. We have made this a philanthropic initiative and an integral part of our CSR activities.
Q. What is your business model and the main USP of your products?
A. Our business model is a unique franchise system and offers an established business model which derives the benefit of advanced research and development. The USP of our products is that we have an integrated system of clinic chain and range of products, which rely on each other. Our products have also grown out of our clinical treatments. We have become known for our therapeutic products for the treatment of specific skin and hair problems, and for ayurvedic beauty care as well.
Q. What are your expansion plans?
A. Our future plans include expansion in economies like the USA, the UK, the UAE, Canada, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Russia. Currently, the Shahnaz Husain Group operates in over 100 countries with exports, franchise salons, spa, shops, beauty training academies and as direct product distributors.