Digital Solutions for Women-Owned Enterprises

Digital Solutions for Women-Owned Enterprises

Background

A decline in rural jobs, the one-sided burden of unpaid care work, along with other structural and underlying issues, such as unequal pay structures, have compounded the decreasing female labour force participation of India—56.1% of working women in India were self-employed as of 2014. There are 8.1 million Indian women-owned enterprises as per the 6th EC, making up 13.7% of enterprises in India. Only 20% of these report their Gross Value Added (GVA) as over INR 5,000 per month compared to 73% of men-owned enterprises.

There are multiple different approaches that have been used to promote and address the variety of barriers faced by women-owned enterprises, ranging from programmes driving financial inclusion to the provision of skilling initiatives. Of the plethora of different approaches to solving for these barriers, e-commerce and digital solutions offer a new and potentially scalable pathway to potentially solve for some of these issues and generate market linkages for these women-owned enterprises. Digital solutions are only just beginning to be explored in India and could provide a scalable means of linking women to markets and job opportunities. The effect size of such interventions (both in India and internationally) could extend beyond market connections and livelihood linkages, to providing layered social empowerment outcomes.

Sattva_Woman-market-india

Sattva organised a roundtable to understand this potential through three lenses — the viability of e-commerce as a solution, the enablers it provided that could solve for specific barriers, and the feasibility of implementing such a solution at scale. ‘Digital Solutions for Women-Owned Enterprises’ takes forward the insights from the roundtable to better understand the potential of e-commerce in growing women entrepreneurship.

Key Findings

1. The high potential of B2B e-commerce
The B2B customer segment of e-commerce offers high potential for women-owned enterprises to access markets and scale as it helps producers procure bulk amounts of raw materials at a lower cost, and have larger order sizes and more predictable revenue.

2. Three B2C sectors with opportunity
Three sectors in B2C e-commerce provide maximum potential for integration of women-owned enterprises. These are:

  • Sale and manufacture of apparel and home furnishing
  • Retail sale of food and beverages
  • Hyperlocal services like hairdressing and beauty services, or repair and alteration of clothing

3. E-commerce enables enterprises in multiple ways
E-commerce platforms can enable enterprises to access larger markets, understand market dynamics and tailor their products/services, get easier access to credit and other inputs, and improve their technical and business skills.

4. There are five key enablers that need to be provided or developed in order to ready women for integration into e-commerce

  • Willingness to participate in e-commerce
  • Functional and technical skills
  • Access to and usage of mobiles and technology
  • Market intelligence and business support
  • Access to working capital and inputs

5. Similarly, there are five enablers required to achieve readiness at an ecosystem level

  • Developing infrastructure in partnership with telecom providers
  • Creating a favourable policy and regulation environment
  • Adding a gender lens for e-commerce platforms
  • Reducing entry barriers on e-commerce platforms
  • Facilitating technological access for women (by developing familial and community support)

The full report can be accessed below.
Digital Solutions for Women-Owned Enterprises – Full Report

Our research shows that even though the e-commerce sector in India is experiencing major growth, the effects of e-commerce growth have been concentrated amongst a few of the larger vertical and horizontal players, with the bottom of the pyramid not yet having any real benefits.

There are a few industries that show high promise for women entrepreneurs to integrate with e-commerce value chains, such as; restaurants/online food delivery, groceries, and the manufacture of textiles and home furnishings. Additionally, the operational models of e-commerce platforms provide a host of enablers that address the constraints faced by women entrepreneurs and women-owned enterprises, building a solid market case for the potential of incorporating women into these value chains. However, in order to truly incorporate women into these value chains, there is a need for mentorship, hand-holding support, financial and digital literacy and technical guidance to be provided. Further, there is also a need for infrastructure to be strengthened, a supportive environment to be developed (by addressing normative and social constraints as well as by enterprises providing support). Favourable government policies towards e-commerce growth, like we’ve seen in other countries such as China, and enabling its decentralized access are also necessary for these women entrepreneurs to thrive in parallel with the rapidly growing e-commerce space.

Would you like to partner with us to further the conversation around the potential of e-commerce in growing women entrepreneurship? Write in to knowledge@sattva.co.in.

Business Case for Gender Mainstreaming in Cotton in Maharashtra

Business Case for Gender Mainstreaming in Cotton in Maharashtra

Background

India is the largest producer and second largest exporter of cotton in the world, providing direct livelihood to 6 million farmers, and indirect livelihood to about 40-50 million people employed in cotton trade and processing.

Women perform a majority of the tasks involved in cotton cultivation, but play a limited part in agricultural decision-making, have low involvement in market-facing roles and little control over profits. Typically, women cultivators don’t have land titles in their name, and are often ignored stakeholders in farm-related interventions. They also have reduced access to agronomic training programs and information, and agriculture extension services provided by the government.

To further understand the potential of women cotton cultivators in driving improved business outcomes and profitability in cotton production, Sattva and IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative conducted a gender analysis of cotton cultivation in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra between September 2018 and January 2019. This included exploring and quantifying the gender division of roles, responsibilities and access to resources, current farm practices, and the labour burden of male and women cultivators in the production process. The study sought to understand current gaps in cotton production and identify opportunities that could enable ecosystem players, cotton value chain actors, businesses, and programme implementers to make well-founded decisions based on a business case for strengthening the involvement of women cultivators.

Key Findings

1. Social norms impact the way women cultivators engage with the agricultural ecosystem

  • Tasks undertaken by women cotton cultivators are perceived to be ‘lighter work’, even though these tasks are highly manual, drudgery-prone and time intensive.
  • Women cultivators spend more farming days (80-90%) on the field compared to men (10-20%) through the cotton production cycle. In addition, women cultivators spend 8 additional hours engaged in household tasks daily. While household responsibilities are unpaid, the economic contribution of women cultivators on their own field also goes unmeasured.
  • Social norms limit mobility and the ability of women cultivators to take on front-facing, ‘high value’ roles. They also limit access to productive resources such as land, extension services, tools and finance, that are relatively easier to access for their male counterparts.
  • Women cultivators were typically paid INR 150 per day and men were paid INR 200-300 per day. Lower levels and reduced control over income limit the level of empowerment women cultivators can achieve.

2. Tasks undertaken by women cultivators directly impact the quantity and quality of cotton produced

3. The time spent by women on the field can be leveraged to implement integrated pest management

  • While engaged in weeding and fertilizer application, women are on the field during the early schedule of pest monitoring (June to September)
  • The time spent by women cultivators on the field can be leveraged to monitor for pests and reduce the incidents of pest attacks


4. Though women undertake majority of the tasks in cotton production, primary decision-making still lies in the hands of male cultivators.

  • Women cultivators were more likely to say that decisions were made by both men and women. Male responses for the decision-making category ‘both’ are consistently 8-10% points lower than women’s responses.
  • Even when decisions were taken together, there could be varying degrees of participation by the women cultivators. The final decision was almost always taken by the male member of the household.


5. Despite their role in cotton production, women cultivators have limited access to resources.

  • 33% of the women cultivators had attended any training in the last two years. Yet, if training was provided to women, there was a 30-40% increase in adoption of best farm practices.
  • 16% of the women cultivators surveyed held land titles in their name.
  • 15% of the women cultivators surveyed had accessed any government schemes, with lack of knowledge cited as the main limiting factor
  • SHGs remain an un-leveraged source of financial support for cotton. While most farmers depended on store credit, only 28% of the women cultivators shared that they get credit for cotton from SHGs.

The study found that solving for the restrictions and challenges faced by women cotton cultivators has the potential to achieve improved business outcomes, including an increase in the quality and quantity of cotton produced, ultimately increasing household incomes. It also results in better social outcomes such as increased participation of women cotton cultivators in decision making.

The full report can be accessed below.
Business Case for Gender Mainstreaming in Cotton in Maharashtra – Full Report

Approach and Framework

The gender analysis framework developed by Sattva helped build an understanding of the gender division of roles and responsibilities on the farm, participation in decision-making, and access to productive resources. The framework also analyzes the underlying gender and socio-cultural norms which could influence the division of roles and access to ecosystem support. The study is the first to build a business case for gender mainstreaming in the agricultural value chain.

Using quantitative and qualitative research methods, the study sought to answer the following questions:

  • What is the role played by women cultivators in the production of cotton and how does it contribute to the quality and quantity of the cotton produced?
  • How can business outcomes in cotton production be strengthened by enhancing the engagement of women cultivators on the farm?
  • How are women’s roles on the farm influenced by underlying gender norms? How can these norms be influenced or changed to improve and enhance women’s outputs and profitability?
  • What is the current ecosystem around women cultivators? How can it be strengthened to influence the contribution of women cultivators in cotton production?

Methodology

methodology

The study included quantitative surveys 515 women cotton cultivators and 164 male cotton cultivators. 19 focus group discussions were held with over 125 respondents across Amravati, Yavatmal, Aurangabad and Parbhani, while qualitative interviews were conducted with 26 relevant stakeholders including NGOs, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), ginners, brands and experts in the field.

Event: Farmer Incomes’ and Gender Mainstreaming in Cotton Cultivation

IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative unveiled the ‘Business Case for Gender Mainstreaming in Cotton in Maharashtra’ with knowledge partners Sattva in Mumbai on May 9. The event featured the launch of two reports ‘Doubling Cotton Farmer Incomes in Maharashtra’ and ‘Business Case for Gender Mainstreaming in Cotton in Maharashtra ’, followed by an interactive session on key findings from the reports.

Would you like to partner with us to further the conversation around gender mainstreaming in the agriculture value chain? Write in to knowledge@sattva.co.in.

Shambhavi Srivastava

Shambhavi is a Senior Research Manager at Sattva and brings in 8 years of experience in research and public policy projects in the sectors of rural livelihoods, women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion. Shambhavi brings with her strong expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methods using mixed-method approaches, statistical tools and experience with leading outreach and dissemination activities on the field and in the ecosystem. She has served as a Principal Investigator (PI) on numerous gender, public health, financial inclusion and rural livelihood projects.

Prior to Sattva, Shambhavi worked as Research Manager for Institute of Financial Management and Research (IFMR LEAD), India where she served as the PI and programme lead for policy projects in the Financial Inclusion vertical on multi-stakeholder projects in collaboration with partners such as DFID, Access Assist, SIDBI, Ministry of Finance and the University of Munich.

Shambhavi holds a Master of Arts degree in Cultural and Social Geography from the University of British Columbia, Canada, a Master of Arts Degree in International Relations and Political Science from Jawaharlal Nehru University, India and a Bachelors in Political Science from Lady Shriram Delhi University, India.

Bobbymon George

Bobbymon heads Assessments in Sattva and is based in our Bangalore office.

He has delivered evaluation assignments across sectors and with key CSR accounts such as ABG, JPMorgan, ACC, Philips, L&T Infotech, L&T Financial Services, Dell and Fidelity. He comes with over 13 years of experience in the development sector, across programme design, implementation and Monitoring and Evaluation. He has led Programme Delivery, Curriculum Development, setting up Monitoring & Evaluation frame works and tools in non-profits.

He is also a master facilitator/trainer in Life Skills.

Shruti Deora

Shruti is part of the Transformative Advisory team in Delhi, leading delivery for clients in the education sector, for bringing systemic transformation at scale through process standardisation, technology and capability development.

She has over 8+ years of experience in various roles across industries – as a management consultant in KPMG Advisory, creating solutions and supporting implementation for large scale business transformation projects in India, South Africa, Uganda and UAE, as a Chartered Accountant, handling market research for investments with Franklin Templeton, as well as a stint with the Investment Management Division of Goldman Sachs. At Sattva she has worked on key projects of Sattva Knowledge in the impact investment and education landscape across Asia, and on issues of education and gender equality.

Shruti has a Bachelors in Commerce from Mumbai University, is a Chartered Accountant and is a graduate of IIM Kozhikode.

Shalini Rajan

Shalini is a consultant with the Sattva Solutions Group, working with key CSR clients in delivering impact through implementation and advisory services.

She has worked as a consultant at the Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS), Bangalore on a collaborative research programme on climate change adaptation. She has worked closely on adaptation trends and patterns observed in peri-urban areas around Bangalore. She has also worked at the Currency Derivatives team at Goldman Sachs. Shalini is committed to using the power of technology to deliver improve governance the grassroots. She is also passionate about mainstreaming sustainable practices across the board, and bringing women at the fore of sustainable development.

Shalini has an Economics (Hons.) degree from Christ University, Bangalore and an M.Sc. in Development Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Anjali Menon

Anjali works in the design and implementation of Gender Diversity Solutions as part of the Solutions team in Bangalore.

She has prior work experience in both the private and development sector. Post her work with L&T as a process engineer, she interned with a CSR foundation in the design of their women’s livelihood programme as part of the Young India Fellowship (Ashoka University). She has also managed a sustainable livelihood project for an NGO in Hyderabad. At Sattva, she has been involved in the end-to-end programme execution and monitoring of a CSR pilot initiative aimed at the skill development of women for customer experience roles.

Anjali holds a Bachelors in Technology (Chemical Engineering) from National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli.

Malvika Dwivedi

Malvika is a part of the Transformative Advisory Team in Mumbai.

She has over 4 years of experience in the development sector. She worked at Pratham, as a Regional Coordinator for Pratham’s skill development programme, monitoring progress of trainees placed in jobs (with specific focus on migrants). She has also worked at an early-stage social enterprise, where she focused on building the organisation’s strategy with the objective to deliver skills of the future. At Sattva she has worked across various types of projects including – research on integrating women in the value chain, organisation building for a large-scale child right’s organisation, and programme design and management for CSR clients. She is committed to fixing systems and building stronger systems — be it strengthening an organisation so that it can scale effectively or figuring out a way to bring women entrepreneurs into the mainstream.

Malvika has a Masters in Development Practice from Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Mohana Rajan

Mohana Rajan is part of the Consulting Services team in Mumbai.

Prior to Sattva she has worked in the corporate as well as development sectors and as a Legislative Assistant to Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia. She has worked with Foundations, Philanthropists, Corporate CSR and Non-profits in the areas of skill development, healthcare and children with special needs. She is passionate about gender equality and is keen to look into innovative models that can emulate corporate success in the development sector.

Mohana is a mechanical engineer from NITK Surathkal and a graduate of IIM Bangalore.

Manasi Parvatikar

Manasi leads key client engagements in Africa and Southeast Asia for Sattva’s international business unit, working with social enterprises, funders and donors that are working in the intersection of food security, climate change and gender inclusion in Africa and South-East Asia.

Prior to Sattva, Manasi was an Analyst and Engagement Manager, working on Market Entry Strategy​, Strategic Sales and Channels Planning, Business Modelling, Marketing Ecosystem Planning and more. She has also co-authored reports on topics related to Indian small and medium businesses – operational challenges and opportunities and India IT Report Card – Implications of federal budget. At Sattva she has worked with key CSR clients in helping develop national strategies around waste and water management. She has further helped developed programmes around marine waste management and integrated village watershed development.

Manasi is a Mathematics graduate from the University of Delhi.