Micro-entrepreneurship

Sattva is working in collaboration with Smart Power India (SPI) to address issues of gender gaps and bringing rural women into mainstream employment through setting up a micro apparel-manufacturing centre. The centre aims to connect willing women to mainstream market by providing them training and sustained employment.

Sattva’s approach for the micro-apparel manufacturing centre is designed in such a way that it addresses the key problems of the rural communities of Uttar Pradesh highlighted above and tries to solve a small part of the larger unemployment and migration problems. The intention of the above micro enterprise development projects is to scale this business model to more and more villages and create a cluster of these micro apparel centres into a small-scale industries which provides employment to local communities and empowers women in the region.

Salient features of the apparel manufacturing centre:

1. The workforce to get at least 40% of the selling price on a per piece basis, which is much more than the current percentage of 10-20% of the selling price.
2. Women to form major percentage of the workforce in our centre
3. Entrepreneur driven centre in which the selected entrepreneur is from the community
4. The centre would be handed over to the community to be run by them in course of 2-3 years.

In other words, we are looking at this as a solution, i.e. more than just a “unit cost”, and enabling impact that has to go beyond measurement, to also look at scale + sustainability.

IMPLEMENTATION – MICRO-ENTREPRENEURSHIP

OBJECTIVE
A solar power company delivering viable electricity solutions through decentralised renewable energy mini-grids, wanted to spur socio-economic growth in rural and semi-urban areas. They wanted to create an ecosystem to encourage this segment of people to become entrepreneurs on the back of reliable supply of energy. Our work as knowledge and implementation partners was to bring rural women into mainstream employment through setting up of micro-apparel manufacturing centres.

SATTVA’S APPROACH
We designed and executed a programme based on an entrepreneur-led model here. The first step was developing a site selection framework using certain basic criteria:
– choosing a location for the manufacturing centre close to a solar plant to ensure a steady supply of electricity, – within a radius of 200 kilometres from the market,

The focus was on selecting married women to train since the study suggested that such selection would help maintain high retention rates. We covered 8-10 villages under outreach to encourage women to visit the centre and gauge their interest in joining the programme. Selected candidates were charged a monthly sum of Rs 100 to ensure accountability and retention. This 20-seater centre, in Kamalapur near Lucknow, trained women in apparel making over six months. Our on-ground training partner trained women to use automatic machines. Post this we worked on a job-order model securing bulk orders from vendors (wholesalers or retailers) in Lucknow which in turn were executed by these women over the next few months as part of on-the job training.

KEY LEARNINGS
The program had far reaching socio-economic impact as it saw women from orthodox families venture out of home into mainstream employment. As a result they were now empowered to improve personal livelihood and educational aspirations. In parallel, it highlighted the importance of creating market linkages for rural entrepreneurs as a crucial component for any skilling program. Our approach demonstrated that a well-designed model is imperative, but motivating and building trust with women is as important to mobilise them. During the course of the programme we saw women build personal relationships with each other and work together with complete solidarity. The company was able to make the first crucial step in solving problems of migration, gender gap in mainstream livelihood opportunities and unemployment in Uttar Pradesh. The Kamlapur centre served as the anchor in that area, enabling the energy service company to be sustainable enough to provide energy at community level covering more beneficiaries. Also, the client is now confident of replicating the model for similar projects in other locations.

OUTCOME
No. of women in program: 20 women
Centre location: Kamlapur, Uttar Pradesh
Increase average income: Rs 2000-3000 per month from Rs 200 per month
Age bracket: 21+ years

DIGITAL FINANCIAL INCLUSION

OBJECTIVE
A Mumbai-based financial services company wanted to design and implement a programme focused on women’s entrepreneurship development and digital financial inclusion across rural Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. We, Sattva Consulting, came in as knowledge partners to give further inputs on the programme design and strategy, as well as support in planning, implementation, monitoring & evaluation and reporting.

SATTVA’S APPROACH
The programme has a two-pronged strategy to enable the company reach its goal of empowering women in their households and communities alike. The first track involves mobilising and training 100 Digital Sakhis – women from the rural areas – in personal finance, digital financial literacy, leadership development and communication skills. These women in turn go out to train the larger community on same skill sets. Each Digital Sakhi has individual targets of reaching 1,000 rural community members which culminates to a total outreach of 1,00,000 rural population. The second track is focused on building the capacity of women entrepreneurs to help further develop their business. The first step was finding an implementing NGO with a background in enterprise development, financial inclusion and women empowerment with the ability to implement in the mandated geographies. After a thorough due diligence and selection process, we conducted a two-day co-creation workshop involving the financial services CSR team, business team and implementing NGO. The first day was focused on aligning all stakeholders on the aspirations, values and indicators of success for the programme, while on the second day we dived deep into the operational planning. This included open and honest conversations with all relevant stakeholders regarding the process of community mobilisation, batch sizes for women entrepreneurs, timelines, risks and mitigation measures among various other granular details. Once implementation began, spearheaded by the implementing NGO on the ground, Sattva conducted the programme management and M&E for the project duration and subsequent proposal development for phase two of the programme.

KEY LEARNINGS
This project successfully demonstrated the impact financial services companies can make through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives to do good for business and in turn, benefit the entire community. Our efforts as knowledge partners with end-to-end implementation support were found immensely useful by all stakeholders in helping drive this programme and moulding it to what it is today. In the end, the company was able to spread awareness on digital financial literacy and promote women’s enterprise development, while increasing their brand visibility on the ground in strategic geographies and strengthening their customer base.

OUTCOME
Reach:
● 100 Digital Sakhis trained on Digital Financial Literacy, Leadership and Communications
● 1000 women entrepreneurs upskilled in their respective trades, trained in enterprise development and digital financial literacy
● 1,00,000 rural population trained on personal finance and digital financial literacy
● Increase in income, knowledge and adoption of formal financial services
● Maharashtra: Pune, Osmanabad and Solapur districts
● Madhya Pradesh: Dhar and Barwani

IMPACT ASSESSMENT

OBJECTIVE
The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of a Mumbai-based bank wanted to understand the impact of its programme aimed at improving livelihoods of Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking, implemented with an on-ground NGO partner across five states. We conducted a detailed assessment of the impact of the project.

SATTVA’S ASSESSMENT APPROACH
We studied 400 women from three of the five states using a hybrid methodology combining qualitative and quantitative data. These women, who had been part of the programme before September 2015, were interviewed through focus group discussions along with multiple stakeholders – implementation partner, local NGOs and anganwadi workers. The discussion was a means to gauge improvement in livelihood patterns, changes in income levels, overall empowerment in taking household decisions for those who chose to opt out of this trade, and more importantly reduction in social exclusion. These parameters formed the qualitative side. Quantitative data, on factors like increase in household income, improvements in family’s standard of living, and education opportunities for their children because of higher income, was collected through a survey.

KEY LEARNINGS
Working and studying a sensitive community brought out valuable insights for us as well as the ecosystem at large. This programme successfully demonstrated self-employment is a sustainable model for livelihood for this group of women, and one that can be institutionalised. Our hybrid methodology, that blended quantitative and qualitative data, proved to be innovative as well as a disciplined and systematic approach leading to desired results within designated time-frame. Also, liaising with an external expert, who came with in-depth understanding of this community, helped us communicate effectively in order to gather valuable information. Collaborating with the NGO provided balance in field dynamics, as they gave us necessary inputs and direction on broaching sensitive questions. This, we believe, was a crucial aspect of the assessment. As a result, the CSR arm was able to assess the programme’s impact well, and the programme proved to be feasible for this community.

HIGHLIGHTS
● Studied a sample set of 400 women in three states
● States covered: Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow), Andhra Pradesh (Vizag) and Maharashtra (Pune)
● Duration: 2.5 months
● Age group: 20-50 years
● Adopted a scientific research methodology blending qualitative and quantitative data
● Assessed a complex socio-economic and cultural setting

BLURB
“Adopting a hybrid methodology was an extremely disciplined and systematic approach leading to desired results within the time-frame earmarked for this assessment.”