PRALAY CHAKRABARTI

Pralay is a Principal with Sattva’s Transformation Advisory and Portfolio Services. He has 15+ years of management consulting and corporate strategy experience across multiple sectors. He has led multi-country complex transformation initiatives. These have been across impacting organisation strategy, process, people, and culture that needed strategy formulation and deep change management expertise.

Pralay holds an MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode.

5 insights on the potential of e-commerce in growing women entrepreneurship

5 insights on the potential of e-commerce in growing women entrepreneurship

A lack of access, skills and business acumen often prevent women and women-owned enterprises from being able to participate in markets or scale their economic participation. The numbers reflect this—46% of women-owned enterprises in India classify their business as stagnant, and only 20% earn more than INR 5000 (~US$71) a month (compared to 73% of men-owned enterprises). Addressing this disparity is essential to improving economic empowerment outcomes for women, and stakeholders across sectors, be it government, private sector or civil society, have a vested interest in solving for the barriers to women entrepreneurship.

Sattva_Insights_ecommerce women entrepreneurship

A recent solution that has shown promise in improving the type of work and market opportunities available to women is the advent of e-commerce. Internationally, models such as Taobao (Alibaba) and Grab have shown results in linking women to livelihoods and markets, and in India, nascent platforms such as Amazon Saheli and GoCoop are looking to do the same. Aside from market linkages, these platforms often provide a basket of different enablers in order to allow these small entrepreneurs to participate in online value chains, such as access to digital finance, support with logistical services, and flexible work opportunities.

The Potential: What can e-commerce bring to the table?

E-commerce platforms have the potential to improve gender outcomes

These platforms can potentially increase the revenue share available for women producers by eliminating middlemen and reducing barriers to entry. They can use the data generated on consumer preferences to enable better production choices as well as help women achieve visibility and discoverability for their businesses. For example, the Saheli storefront on the Amazon India website directs traffic to products from their partner women-owned enterprises to provide greater visibility. Finally, they can make the process of procurement and purchasing gender blind, thus addressing any normative barriers associated with women participating in traditional value chains.

However, digital platforms are not a silver bullet solution

They may provide market linkages and end to end support, but they cannot guarantee demand for products, or insulate enterprises from global competition. They are also often not able to directly provide credit, inputs or physical infrastructure, but multiple models provide tie-ups and support addressing these issues.

While competition is a major concern, models based around service provision are better suited to mainstreaming through digital platforms

E-commerce platforms can create market linkages for niche products (such as handicrafts), but small enterprises producing in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market with mainstream players will often have issues competing on price, quality etc. On the other hand, enterprises based on service provision are more insulated from global competition as service provision is limited to local geographies, while manufacturing products can be easily replicated in other markets where production and prices may be cheaper, crowding smaller players out.

Is the ecosystem ready?

There is a need for money, skills for business, quality and timely production and quality production services to drive efficiency of enterprises and enable them to compete on a global scale

There is a need for handholding, additional services and solutions such as clustered service centers, common branding across enterprises to create product awareness, and business consulting services to aid first time entrepreneurs survive in mainstream markets. Experiences from companies like Rangsutra and Industree show that in order to achieve the quality and compliance expected on such platforms, technical capacity building and support is often needed, along with some level of guaranteed and predictable revenue for these risk-averse entrepreneurs. Other necessary pre-requisites to work with women entrepreneurs include buy-in from the men in a household, and of course, basic internet access.

The viability and scalability of e-commerce as a route to women’s economic empowerment needs to be further explored by stakeholders across sectors

While the potential exists, and some stakeholders are exploring this as a solution; it is important for further research and discussion to explore which types of digital solutions are most relevant in addressing the barriers plaguing women and women-owned enterprises, how feasible these models are, and their potential for scale in different contexts.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that while these solutions could solve for barriers faced by enterprises, these entrepreneurs may not have the access or ability to engage with digital solutions. Solving for this will require a tri-sector approach, and stakeholders from civil society, government and the private sector must come together at platforms like AVPN and identify a way forward both in terms of potential and for readying the ecosystem to take up these solutions at scale.

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REFERENCES:
[1] Data from the 73rd NSS and 6th EC in India.
[2] Taobao is a Chinese online shopping website, owned by Alibaba.
[3] Grab is a transportation, food delivery and online payment provider founded in Malaysia.
[4] The Saheli store is a dedicated storefront on Amazon India to display women entrepreneurs’ products and facilitate sales.
[5] GoCoop.com is an online marketplace that enables handloom and handicraft co-operatives and artisans in connecting directly with buyers (both consumers and other businesses).
[6] Rangsutra is a craft company in India that produces a variety of textile handicrafts, collectively owned by over 2000 artisans.
[7] Industree works to create ownership based, organised manufacturing ecosystem for artisans and micro-entrepreneurs, and runs 2 producer-owned enterprises that employ over 1400 women.
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This article was originally published by AVPN and can be accessed here.

You can find more Insights from Sattva here.

To talk to us for collaborations or partnerships, you can write to us: impact@sattva.co.in

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.

Rahul Shah

Rahul is part the Consulting Services team in Mumbai, with experience working on organisational development with both small and large NGOs, CSR design and implementation, development impact bonds, fundraising and impact assessment.

His diverse experience in the development sector has evolved from his time working at the grassroots level in Ahmedabad, India, to community organising in his hometown of Washington, DC, consulting with social organisations across domains and managing multi-year development projects. Prior to joining Sattva, Rahul worked with TechnoServe India where he managed a CSR funded accelerator programme for women-led social enterprises and NGOs, and a USAID funded project transferring frugal agricultural innovations from India to Africa. In addition to his development sector work, he has five years of progressive experience in corporate finance with industry leading, Fortune 500 corporations in the United States.

Rahul has an MBA and an MS Finance from the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business and an Executive Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Georgetown University.

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.

Parnika Madar

Parnika is a part of the Consulting Services team in Delhi. She has 2 years of experience in the social impact consulting sector- engaging with corporates, foundations and NGOs focusing on research, implementation, programme management, and monitoring and evaluation. She also co-founded her own philanthropic venture which won accolades from an international inter-governmental organisation.

At Sattva, she has been involved in establishing and managing an entrepreneur-led apparel micro enterprise in rural Uttar Pradesh for an international foundation, and has also worked with a key non-profit client in designing and executing a lean pilot for micro enterprise and entrepreneurship development in UP. Apart from livelihoods, she has also worked in other sectors and functional areas such as CSR portfolio management, Education and EdTech, and Skill Development, for varied clients such as a global beverage-manufacturing company, global tech and healthcare enterprise, non-profit philanthropic foundation, and a leading national financial services and investments firm.

Parnika has both her Bachelor’s in Social Sciences and Master’s in Development Policy from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, where she had been a part of multiple field studies, spending time in rural Maharashtra with local communities.

Atul Kotnala

Atul is with the Consulting Services (Implementation) team, heading project teams and working with key clients in the Delhi region.

He has over eight years of experience in the social sector, working across the spectrum – as a Gandhi Fellow for Kaivalya Education Foundation in Rajasthan, as a recruiter for the Fellowship in South India, a Project Manager at Piramal Foundation, leading a cohort of 1000 beneficiaries for a livelihood program in Uttarakhand, and as a part of the Uttarakhand District Disaster Management Team to build a Livelihood Action Plan for the district. At Sattva he has led multiple projects working on CSR strategy formulation, organisational development, mobilisation, programme management, implementation of a livelihood programme, social audits, partner due diligence and assessments.

Atul has a Bachelors in Commerce from the University of Delhi.

Aditi Chatterjee

Aditi is part of our Consulting Services team in Delhi, managing projects in the education and livelihood domains.

Before Sattva, she had a career in risk consulting and corporate fraud investigation with KPMG and EY, gaining an exposure to the impact that corporate supply chains have on the lives of the labour force. This led her to the development sector and the Gandhi Fellowship, where she worked with the education sector. She also learnt more about the lives of the labourers by living with them for a month in the slums of Mumbai, working on labour jobs with their families and exploring business models which enable better livelihoods for them. At Sattva, she continues to work on issues at the cusp of business and social impact.

Aditi has an MBA from Said Business School at the University of Oxford, where she was a Weidenfeld Hoffman – Louis Dreyfus scholar.