READ India Centers; Enriching Lives Around Us
With having significant operations in St. Thomas Mount, Chennai, India for more than 60 years, IFF felt a more cohesive community development outreach was needed to give back to the small farm holder community in the surrounding area – specifically a program that that focused on increasing education and employment opportunities for women and children.
As a company, we strongly believe in the short- and long-term benefits of improved literacy, empowerment and economic development opportunities for the communities where we operate and beyond. We’ve carried out similar outreaches with community development partners in Latin America and Haiti and understood the far-reaching benefits of such programs. In February 2018, we partnered with READ India, a non-profit organization, to establish a community library and resource center that provides enrichment programs for those living in rural areas near the IFF facility in St. Thomas Mount. The center offers career training through tailoring and computer skills development and facilitates outreaches focused on women’s empowerment and health awareness.
After just a few short months, the center’s library grew from having a catalogue of about 1,000 books, periodicals and newspapers to – today- housing approximately 1,200 books. Additionally, the facility offers access to seven sewing machines where more than 90 women have received skills training on tailoring and stitching to help generate employment income. In the computer lab, more than 230 children and adults have received computer training and nearly 20 children are learning to speak English as another language. Notably, the women participating in these courses have the added support of an on-site nursery that provides childcare, free of charge, while they conduct their studies.
IFF has plans to open two additional centers in India.
Stuart Maxwell, VP, Strategic Workforce Planning, Talent Acquisition, Diversity & Inclusion: [email protected]
Through our work with the READ center, IFF is continuing community-focused efforts that are aligned with our global values. Having been a part of this initiative from the start, I understand how valuable these resources are to the women and families in this community. I am glad we are supporting those who are in our own ‘back yard’ and are actively investing in the next generation of a global workforce.