November 12, 2019

Solving Problems, Building Livelihoods

Investor: Dharma Life
Project: Empowerment of Women
Location: Kodinar, Gujarat
Duration: 2015-Ongoing

It's a familiar sight in rural villages - Women crouched over mud stoves with smoke billowing into their faces, as they cook for their families. It comes at a cost & it's usually their health, which is impacted from inhaling large amounts of smoke while cooking. There is also collateral damage with family members suffering from a range of eye problems & the blackening of kitchen walls.

What if there was a way to solve this problem, and generate a livelihood for these women at the same time? This was the approach taken by Dharma Life, an organization that delivers quality products and services for social impact and drives comprehensive social development, through its rural entrepreneur network.

It was in 2015 that Dharma Life and ACF joined hands to solve problems and build livelihoods for women affiliated with the Sorath Mahila Vikas Sahkari Mandal in Kodinar Gujarat. Dharma Life had the products and know how, whilst ACF had the on-ground reach & relationships with women. And so the association commenced.The Sorath Women's Federation decided to replace the unhealthy clay stove by promoting the light, easy to use & clean induction based Prestige Chulhas among its 2509 members . Loan options were extended to the women for this stove that allowed them to cook faster and save time. This trickled down to them having more time for their children and for other productive work. With a 2% commission on offer for every product sold to the federation members, there was additional motivation to get women to make the healthy change.

An army of Dharma Entrepreneurs emerged and with the success of the stove project, they set their sights on tackling other local problems such as hygiene during menstruation. Soon enough, they began to promote cost effective sanitary napkins at a subsidized rate and encouraged women to use it for better hygiene purposes - and the federation members received Rs. 3 for every box sold. In fact, ACF facilitated the donor organization to provide 8 lakhs as a revolving fund to the women's federation to promote high social impact products in the villages and create awareness of the benefits.

As part of the Internet Saathi Project that included 50 Internet Saathi trained by Google, the federation also employed 50 bicycles each having 2 smartphones, 2 tablets with power backup worth Rs. 50,000 to create awareness on the use of smart phones by the women members. Training was also provided to the federation members to educate school children on health and hygiene and the correct ways to wash hands. For every child trained, the women received Rs. 2.50.

Changes are afoot for the betterment of women in these villages - their health, their economic empowerment and their pride is a testament to this incredible collaborative project.

Impact till date
  • 131 villages reached
  • 9519 boxes of Sanitary Napkins distributed
  • Over 2000 social high impact products of Solar Lights, Pressure Cookers, Mixers sold by women
  • 32,343 children trained from 65 villages in hand washing
  • 23591 women from 65 villages covered under an initiative on menstrual hygiene management
November 12, 2019

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