There was a listed participation from 145 organizations and agencies in this exhibition cum conference event. The event was efficiently managed by the UBM people. It was interesting to note that there were a large proportion of young visitors to the exhibition and they were enthusiastic to be part of the development initiatives. The corporate participation in the conference was rather formal. The earmarked point of contact during the lunch on both the days and a hosted dinner on the first day can be termed as failures as there was little scope of sharing or explaining the ideas and few interested people in view. At the same time the corporate did have their scouts exploring silently within the exhibition arena. A few of them could be located through tactical discussion. But the larger public sector undertakings were quite conspicuous by their absence (though I located one personnel from Indian Oil Corporation more so because he was an Odia person and incidentally have two family persons with disability). The major feeling was as if the corporate are still grappling with the principle of CSR as a duty - a responsibility that should not be looked as a charity.
Looking from the other angle it was a good exposure for the organization both in terms of making the presence of the organization known to the wider national setup and opening up market prospect for the products made by persons with disability thereby promoting brand "Anmol". Various other agencies were also interested to resource the organization on skill-set and expertise on livelihood development. It was also tempting with offers to expand the operational area beyond the state of Odisha. I really felt the absence of our second line leaders for whom it would have been a nice learning experience.
But the silver lining of this sojourn was the support of Ms. Shefali, a real Mumbaikar who volunteered to be in the stall for the first day. A gentle yet articulate young lady managed the talks and sale of products with so much ease as if she had been with aaina for a long time. More over it was not an off day in the office but she took a day off to volunteer for aaina! My thanks to her and I wish we could find such young people in more numbers with sensitivity towards developmental concerns.
There were a few business points to learn also. The products were very well appreciated for its simple yet innovative makes. The file folders were a real rage. People also appreciated the finishing quality of the products. I wish I could have carried more of the products. I feel compelled to narrate the incident about people in queue for some of the products in case the earlier person did not turn up. Well the exhibition did end but it gave direction to start work in new dimensions of sustainability.