Bridging Gap Between Traditional Education & Real-world Skills: Nishtha Yogesh, Hunar Online Courses

Speaking to BW Education, founder and CEO of Hunar Online Courses Nishtha Yogesh, shares her inspiration behind starting the venture, expansion plans, success stories and more

What was the idea behind initiating 'Hunar Online Courses'?

Growing up in India, the disparity in opportunity for women was something that was extremely evident and troubling for me. In parallel, through my mother, I witnessed first-hand the transformative impact skilling had on the lives of the women. A new skill provided confidence, a source of recognition and a path to financial independence. As I grew older, I always wondered if there was a way to provide outcome-based skilling opportunities to women across the country and support them through their journey to financial independence. I specifically wanted to focus on the underserved and forgotten segment of Indian homemakers, so, with the support of my friends and family, I embarked on a journey to develop our initial course offerings. In May 2018, we launched Hunar Online Courses. Since then, Hunar has blossomed into a thriving community, consisting of over two million women and nurturing the dreams of 45,000 students. What's remarkable is that 30 per cent of these individuals have not only learned valuable skills but have also become entrepreneurs. Their average monthly earnings now exceed Rs 50,000, a testament to the incredible potential that resides within every woman. Our students come from diverse backgrounds and geographies - homemakers seeking to explore their passions, young girls wanting to unleash their creativity and working women striving to enhance their skills, from all tiers of India. Each of them represents a story of resilience, ambition and the pursuit of dreams. 

What all kind of skills are offered on the platform? Shed some light on the affordability aspect. 

Hunar provides a diverse range of creative courses in the fashion, food and beauty categories. Our courses are focussed on product creation and skill development. We offer more than 55 vernacular, video based, government certified courses ranging from garment making, embroidery, tie & dye, bag making, jewellery design, baking, chocolate crafting, bridal makeup, etc. including business courses like boutique management & fashion, food & beauty entrepreneurship. 

Apart from our course content, students get access to dedicated student guides and faculty members for one-on-one doubt clearance, access to live sessions with celebrity mentors like Neeta Lulla and many other industry experts, a free starter kit with material required to learn the course and lifetime access to our network and community. 

Hunar also offers government-approved programmes, enabling participants to obtain certification from the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and receive top-notch industry-level training sessions to transform their skills into thriving businesses. 

Our courses are very affordable - ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 8,000 for a 6-months course. We also provide flexible payment options and scholarships.   

Tell us about the assessment and marking process.  

We depend on a combination of intensive student video analytics tracking, assignment submissions by students and personalised faculty evaluation for assessment. 

What kind of industrial exposure is provided to the learners, considering the dynamic and ever-growing Indian market?

At Hunar, our goal from day 1 has been to provide learning that is outcome focussed. We provide learners with valuable industrial exposure in the dynamic and rapidly expanding Indian market. Our approach is designed to bridge the gap between traditional education and real-world skills. 

Our courses are tailor-made featuring video content by industry experts in multiple languages. These courses are supported by live classes that are trend focussed and master classes from industry experts. Additionally, we offerentrepreneurship modulesthat equip our students with essential skills and training coursesto kickstart their businesses. Upon finishing a course, Hunar Online further provides support to kick-start your career through our showcases, our internships and our seed fund.   

What is your USP? Who are your major competitors and what differentiates you from them?

As evidenced in our tagline, Hunar Tumhara Saath Hamara, our most significant moat is our support ecosystem. Our product is built for flexibility, you can learn anytime, anywhere and in the language of your choice. As you begin the course, you receive a starter kit that contains the material you need to start making products and you are assigned dedicated guides & faculty members to support you. After your course is completed, you receive support in starting your business and career. We understand our audience deeply and cater to their every need. 

Hunar is here to genuinely teach, ensure students learn and ensure students are successful. And we remain with our student, steadfastly, throughout their journey. 

What challenges have you come across and what are your expansion plans?

The last 4 years have been the most rewarding and most difficult of my life. As we build Hunar, we faced many challenges, the most significant of which was establishing trust in our platform. The Indian homemaker segment is not one that believes in digital businesses easily, a problem compounded by the rampant digital fraud in our country. Ensuring our students that come from across the country, trust us with their money, their dreams and their careers has been a constant challenge for us. Borrowed credibility form our brand ambassador and investor Shilpa Shetty and our many student ambassadors speaking on our behalf has helped us overcome this challenge. 

Over the next year, we are focussed on expanding our product offering to include interiors and photography courses and we hope to become a community of 1 crore women soon.   

Share some success stories. 

Himja Slathia – Pune, Maharashtra  

A homemaker from Pune who had the passion for creating unique fashion, which led her to Hunar Online. She learnt Indian Garment Making course and completed it successfully. With the support of her husband, she could manage her work as well as family and she has even participated in our first-ever national showcase, Filmy Fashion. Now she is the proud owner of her own designer collection called ‘Himja Slathia Designs’ and earns an Rs 1 Lakh every month.  

Sarifa Khatri – Kutch, Gujrat  

Hailing from Kutch, Sarifa was a student when she joined Hunar. Her father owned a tie and dye unit, which was shut down eventually. She revived this family business by learning the Tie and Dye course on the Hunar Online App. She has now created collections of garments and home décor products in her own factory. Her designs are unique due to the way she folds the fabric and creates unique dyed patterns. Her skill helped her restart her father’s business and keep the family business going.  

Sandhya Datla - East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh  

As a farmer's wife from a small village in Andhra Pradesh, Sandhya had been under societal pressure to just be a home maker. After completing her Garment Making Course with Hunar, she started her business with our Entrepreneurship Programme and says that now she can prove to her family that she too can be a designer and entrepreneur. Her brand 'Vasavi' is doing well online and on WhatsApp & Instagram.  

Vinita Kumari – Kolkata, West Bengal  

Vinita was a Math professor but eventually quit her job to focus more on the upbringing and education of her daughers. Now, 3 decades later, she has found a way to turn her hobby of Garment Making into a profession with Hunar! She has started her small workshop and takes orders for stitching. She's running a successful business of designer Formal Wear for women. 

Do you have any suggestions for budding artists/students?

My suggestion to all budding learners is to believe in themselves and to act. Embrace your passion and pursue your goals with commitment. Share your work with the world, whether through social media, exhibitions or online platforms, as showcasing your creations can lead to valuable feedback and recognition. Today, opportunities are unlimited and challenges can be overcome, provided we have the right mindset and attitude.

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