Born in Kohima, she completed her BA from Nagaland before going to Mumbai to pursue her MA in English. She also has a BFA degree in Interior Design from New York. She has studied and worked in many thriving hubs around the world like Mumbai, Hong Kong, New York and Dubai but she has found her true calling back home where she has started a human resource development agency – The People Channel.
It all started when she took a sabbatical from working in the USA and came back to Nagaland. ‘During that time I travelled across Nagaland and met people at various events. I realised that there were so many educated and creative young people with a degree who were not able to find the job they really wanted, just because they were all looking for opportunities in the government sector. In 2003, I travelled and met various rural level entrepreneurs and self help groups and shared with them simple business processes and ideas on how they could improve their products. I realised that no matter how much you shared these ideas, most people who have never experienced life beyond the Northeast couldn’t shake off the dust of the slow paced life we have and find it hard to comprehend changes that are constantly happening around the world.’
‘During this time I was also burdened with the thought that the knowledge I had gained from my experiences was meant to be shared and I had to find a way to do that. After a year of experiencing this and investing in farming, I had the opportunity to participate in the Hornbill Festival in 2004 with a cousin. We opened a few stalls and introduced many new things for retail, working with artists, local weavers, juvenile delinquents, women’s groups and even old people, and I am happy to say that since then, many vendors picked up our ideas and it has continued in the following years. That year, I was asked to accompany Dr Vijay Mallya around the Heritage village. That chance encounter changed my future in Nagaland and sealed my stay in the Northeast and The People Channel was established in 2005,’ she revealed. Soon after, they sent their first batch of skilled people to work with Vijay Mallya, as part of the now- defunct Kingfisher Airlines. ‘We want to be the channel that connects both the right candidates and the right employers with each other, help in the negotiation of salaries, benefits and opportunities for young people looking for jobs.’
Like all success stories, this one was also full of challenges but Rozelle faced them head-on. ‘Finding resources and the right infrastructure were the primary problems I faced in Nagaland. The lackadaisical behaviour of people in general, especially in the Governmental organisations, was most frustrating. For people in Nagaland, receiving funds to start a business is a nightmare and financial institutions are just unfriendly. Even if grand projects are quite feasible and can be carried out, the projects are scaled down so much in order to receive the little funding, that it has been a challenge trying to expand or set up something which is really worthwhile. Unfortunately, most of the Northeast has not been seen as a destination for investments by most funding agencies, except to build some small-time entrepreneurs. Another great challenge I faced is the lack of willing people to help budding entrepreneurs especially with taxation works. It was a shock when employees of certain departments I went to had no clue how to answer my queries as they themselves were not up to date with the changes in rules or they simply chose to ignore it as it meant less paper work for them. I dream of the day when any information we need is procurable within a few minutes versus days and weeks. I dream of the day when infrastructure logistics in the Northeast is so smooth that doing business will be a pleasure. I dream too that someday soon my internet connectivity is so good even in the most remote areas, that I can go live in the most rural places and help people there without having to send an exodus of people into urban areas only.’
A single mother to a teenage daughter, Rozelle comes from a ‘family of strong women’. ‘My mother and my two sisters along with my maternal grandmother have been the reason whyI am able to think so independently. My parents have at times not understood what I want to do, but have always encouraged me and my sisters, with their occasional “But”. Not having brothers was such a bonus! We were treated like sons and daughters rolled into one. We were taught all things that girls who will run homes one day will need to know and at the same time we were taught what men are expected to do to take care of their families. We have a number of memorable events in our lives where we quite forget that sometimes women in our region can still be marginalised as being inferior.’ Rozelle is very close to her parents and siblings, all of whom, including her daughter, support and encourage her work. ‘It’s a noisy house when we all gather together with our children, for our annual visits whether in the Northeast or around the world.’
She says that aspiring entrepreneurs from the Northeast should think big. ‘Think big even if you have to begin small, be committed and don’t throw in the towel at your first hurdle, for all things take time to flourish!’
School of Lifestyle Vocational Skill Enhancement
Part of ‘The People Channel’, it was started in 2013 to provide pre-employment training that helps make candidates employable and job ready. ‘ It isn’t enough to have degrees and certificates if we prepare people to be non thinking and non analytical. We have to prepare our young to be able withstand anything come what may and be proactive, eager to learn and gain experience. Much of this should be introduced in schools but for those who have missed the bus early on, SOLVSE is a great prep place for discovering who they are and to prepare for any job they have in mind,’ shares Rozelle.
Written By: Meeta Borah
This article first appeared in the August 2016 Issue of Eclectic Northeast