the gen initiative

the gen initiative

At a glance


  • Education
  • International development
  • Training / employment support
  • Women
  • Young people

Other details

Geographical remit: 


The GEN, (the Grassroots Empowerment Initiative) is a small charity (income below £100K pa) that works in the Tijara Block in Rajasthan India in partnership with a small Indian NGO called End Poverty (EP) as  implementing arm.

GEN was founded in 2003 and helped to launch EP as an independent nongovernmental organisation in 2009.  GEN and EP have worked together  in the area since then.  We operate on a very cost effective basis, and now have a number of projects which assist with the elimination of poverty  by providing disadvantaged villagers with skills and experience  that help them to tackle community based needs.  Our aim is to enable them to take charge of their own lives and improve the lives of their families

Our largest project is the Kishori Shishka programme (KSP) which provides a short term intensive education (literacy, numeracy, health, horticulture, drawing and painting, exercise,  etc)  to unschooled teenage girls in contexts that are acceptable to their parents  i.e. classes run by women known to them,  and held near home.  We have just achieved over 1650 girls completing  programme since 2010, and are looking to expand the programme Parents when consulted recently  were particular satisfied that having completed the programme their daughters can manage household budgets,  keep milk and other farming records, make phone calls, help with filling out forms, and can find useful information.  The girls themselves value being able to read books that are available through our mobile library and are also keen for more education

We also have projects in handicrafts development, improving faming, setting up self help groups, and village development.


GEN (the Grassroots Empowerment Initiative), a UK based charity works in partnership with an Indian NGO, End Poverty (EP), has been working in about 50 villages out of 187 in the Tijara Block in the Alwar District of Rajasthan since 2009 when EP was founded with GEN's support.  The number is growing and each year more villages in the Block are seeking to engage with EP. 

As of now Gen has no paid staff - all are volunteers and  EP has a field team of four who represent the main population groups in the area and a head office management team of three.  Together they oversee the work of around 10 teachers and 10 craft work supervisors. EP also has several long term volunteers, some of whom are teachers.

The Tijara Block is off the beaten track even though it is in the middle of the ‘golden triangle’ of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.  Villages are poorly served by services from the District, State and National authorities and access to villages is difficult.  Government services do not meet nationally agreed standards.   Schools are of poor quality and understaffed.  Health centres are minimal.  Water supplies are limited to hand pumps which are under provided against national standards.  There is no sanitary provision.  In most villages there is no electricity.  The population in the Tijara Block is made up of:  Meos, a Muslim group whose needs are even more underprovided than those in other rural areas (70%); resettled Sikh communities (10%);  and various groups of Hindus, mostly from  scheduled castes (20%).  In all of these segments of the population women and girls are the most disadvantaged group because they have minimal access to education, employment, health services and income generation opportunities compared to men in the community.

Over 90% of the 255,000 population (2011 census) in the Block are dependent on farming for their livelihood. Land holdings are small and farmers lack scientific knowledge of farming.  Many are illiterate or have limited literacy . The literacy rate among women in particular is 37% (2011), well below the national average.  In the villages we serve it is only 31%.  A very low rate of girls in the Block register for or attend primary school, largely because parents are unhappy on two counts.  First that their daughters would be  taught by male teachers in mixed classes and second that the unaccompanied journey to school is seen as high risk and unsafe for young girls.

  To date the work of the GEN/EP partnership has included:

  1. Establishing and supporting village development groups  i) to take the lead in village initiatives to improve social and economic conditions including negotiating with officialdom for services the villages are entitled to, and ii) to act as consultative routes for EP on new and ongoing projects
  2. A successful project to provide catch up education to adolescent girls who have either never attended school, or only for a very short time (around 1200 girls have completed our education programme since 2010).  This covers literacy, numeracy, creative and expressive skills, horticulture for income generation, sewing as a vocational skill, health and environmental awareness, games and sports,  among other things.
  3. An income generation initiative for women farmers through handicrafts production. The handicrafts project gives them a chance to raise some independent income (currently 10 village based handicrafts centres engage around 80 women farmers).  Girls from i) above can move on to this scheme
  4. A rural tourism initiative based on a feasibility study done with help from Leeds Metropolitan University’s Department of Responsible Tourism.  This has led to development of a visitors guide based on an eco-survey of the area done in 2013. This year a pilot series of one day visits has been launched for local and foreign visitors to see our projects in the area and to meet, greet and eat with villagers.
  5. A growing number of agricultural projects including a dairy training programme enable farmers to upgrade the quality of their dairy products, a project to set up mini orchards to diversify land use and raise income, a range of projects to help farmers to increase productivity eg training in cotton production, training in soil improvement
  6. Over 10,000 saplings such as guava, citrus, and kinoo have been distributed to small and marginal farmers in the past 5 years in the interests of income generation and water conservation
  7. Several pilot projects to test approaches and acceptability, such as a literacy project for adult males who wanted to do the same as their daughters (see i above),  health projects to support state government health initiatives.

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