Companies

Bridging digital gap: Pepsico India to provide used laptops to staff

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on July 31, 2020 Published on July 31, 2020

Pavitra Singh, CHRO of PepsiCo India

Gesture aimed at supporting online education of their children at home

Mohammad Parvez is worried about his 10-year old son Rooshan Ahmed’s declining focus on studies. A Class 3 student at a private school in Jabalpur, Rooshan spends nearly 2-3 hours on online classes everyday using his mother’s basic smartphone.

“He is unable to concentrate and often gets irritated, straining his eyes to focus through the small mobile screen window,” Parvez said adding, “the mobile phone software hangs often and is unable to open some of the PDF files sent by the school.”

A few hundred kilometers away, Rahul Kumar Singh is also going through the same ordeal. His 7-year old son Vishnu Singh, who studies in Class 2 at a private school in Patna, struggles to hold the mobile phone for his hour-long classes everyday. But their concerns have vanished now. Area sales in-charge of Jabalpur and Patna respectively, Parvez and Singh are among the 500 plus frontline salesforce employees of PepsiCo India, who will get a refurbished laptop free of cost.

Free of cost

In its effort to support the online educational needs of children of its frontline salesforce and plant employees, PepsiCo India has come up with an initiative to collect used laptops from its HQ employees, format, refurbish and offer them free of cost.

The pandemic-led rapid shift to online education has exposed the grave inequities in the Indian education system. While the privileged few were quickly able to adapt to online tools for learning, a vast majority of less privileged children were left out by the digital divide.

Last month, a Class 9 student in Kerala’s Malappuram district died due to suicide allegedly upset for not being able to join online classes due to the lack of a smartphone.

“With this whole crisis of pandemic, everyone was moving to online education. But not everyone is privileged enough to buy a laptop for their child’s education,” said Pavitra Singh, CHRO of PepsiCo India, adding, “That’s where the realisation came that there are a lot of people out there struggling. So we decided, we do our bit to support and bridge the gap our employees are facing.”

PepsiCo India intends to send 500 plus refurbished laptops to its employees in six locations which includes Mumbai, Bengluru, Kolkata, Gurgaon, Pune and Punjab. It has already shipped more than 100 laptops to the shortlisted employees in the first batch.

A good cause

But implementing the initiative amidst a stringent lockdown wasn’t that easy.

“Initially we were apprehensive because with lockdown and work from home it was difficult for employees to come to office to surrender their used laptops,” Pavitra said, adding, “But it was so heartening to see employees themselves come forward even on weekends as they realised that it is going for a good cause.”

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Published on July 31, 2020
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