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PeriFerry: Giving India's transgender community a shot at education

Neelam Jain and Nishant Agarwal are making education and careers accessible to India's transgender community

Published: Feb 12, 2021 04:00:08 PM IST
Updated: Mar 19, 2021 08:55:39 PM IST

PeriFerry: Giving India's transgender community a shot at education

Neelam Jain | 26
Nishant Agarwal | 28
Co-founders, CEO and COO, PeriFerry

It started off as a social initiative pitch for an ‘Analyst Impact Fund’ competition at Goldman Sachs where Neelam Jain was working as a financial analyst. While the pitch for educating and skilling transgender people and getting them placements was appreciated, it didn’t get through. But after months of research, Jain had become passionate about the cause, so she quit her job and started PeriFerry in May 2017.

Nishant Agarwal, 28, who had been working in his family business but wanted to do something that would also help others, soon came on board as a partner.

“The socioeconomic issues of the trans community versus the rest of the LGBTQ+ community are very different. A lesbian, gay, queer person can find access to jobs and education, but the trans community’s issue is amplified. They get thrown out of their families at a young age, don’t get access to basic jobs, and even if they do, they get teased,” says Jain. The company also offers sensitisation workshops to support organisations in building an LGBTQ-inclusive culture and environment.

In the closely-knit trans community, it has been a journey of word of mouth for PeriFerry that for months went by without any job applications on its website, and “then suddenly, a bunch of them spoke about us and every week we started getting 10 to 20 applications”, recalls Jain.

It has helped place over 170 transgender people and sensitised over 19,000 corporate employees to date. Its clients include ANZ, ThoughtWorks, Walmart Global Tech, Accenture and Vodafone.

“They hosted an extremely engaging workshop on LGBT inclusion for our leaders... after that, there was really no stopping. We hired a bunch of trans persons through them and started them off in the tech department. Almost all of them still continue to work with us,” says Pragati Sharma, talent and culture consultant at ANZ.

While the services for the community are free, corporates are charged. The organisation broke even 18 months after it started operations. It has seen a revenue growth of 88.5 percent a year from 2017-18 to 2019-20.

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Next up is a partnership with the National Skill Development Corporation. “We have already done a pilot and will be initiating other programmes,” says Jain.

PeriFerry: Giving India's transgender community a shot at education

(This story appears in the 12 February, 2021 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)