Fragrant employment opportunities created for the visually impaired of India


Delegates to the recent IFEAT (International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades) Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, heard how the fragrance industry has come together to help train those with a visual impairment in the artistry of the world of fragrance.

In a fascinating lecture at the conference, the work of COFVI (The College of Fragrance for the Visually Impaired) was described by Sheetal Desai, Managing Director at CPL Aromas India. Ms. Desai explained how groundbreaking research, carried out by the Institute for the Blind of India, revealed those with a visual impairment have great affinity and heightened abilities when using their olfactory senses. These valuable skills are always in high demand in the fragrance industry.

To help enrich the lives of the visually impaired, the College of Fragrance for the Visually Impaired was founded in 2011, enabling students, who suffer from sight problems, to receive an advanced education and to find valuable employment within the fragrance industry.

The extensive education program covers four main areas. Raw material smelling and identification skills are taught, along with product evaluation. Technology training includes the use of JAWS software (Job Access With Speech), MS Outlook Office and e-mailing. Students develop skill in Braille and also learn many personal development techniques, useful in both social and employment settings. Qualified students graduate with certification for the Visually Impaired in Sensory Evaluation. The program makes a significant impact on all those who attend COFVI.

The college is an initiative funded by fragrance industry partners. The one-year education program is entirely free to students, who travel from across India to apply to the College for admission.

Sheetal Desai warmly thanked the generous backers for their cooperation and support of COFVI including Anthea Aromatics, S H Kelkar, Eternis, Aeropharma and CPL Aromas.

Speaking at the conference, Kamna Mago, Marketing Manager for CPL Aromas in India, spoke of the ‘amazing will and desire’ the students of COFVI have for learning and self improvement.

She went on to share the heart-warming story of Mr. Shankar Jaybhay, a man whose life was dramatically changed for the better after attending the college and learning many valuable skills.

After completing his education at COFVI, Mr. Jaybhay has been engaged to work at Anthea Aromatics Pvt Ltd as a chemist in their Quality Control department. He has now moved to the main manufacturing facility and assists in the QC of finished goods, in huge quantities; a role of huge importance. On a happy personal note, Mr. Jaybhay enjoys financial stability, has married and has now started a family. This is one of many good-news success stories since the launch of COFVI.

Success rates are high at the college, with all students from the first two years intake successfully employed or placed within the fragrance industry.

COFVI continues to work hard to deliver training and employment opportunities for the visually impaired of India.