Enactus India – Women Power Project

In an Institute, where students don’t even have time to enjoy or relax, This Enactus India College Chapter – Enactus IIM Indore is doing its bit to bring a change in the society.
We had a one to one conversation with the team members of Enactus IIM Indore to know more about their project – struggles, solutions and impact. This conversation brought out real time problems faced in social entrepreneurship projects and how do teams tackle them. We believe that the upcoming young generation can learn many things from the success and failures of others’ teams.

Background: Enactus, IIM Indore Chapter has constantly strived to contribute towards the empowerment of women. Their attempts to develop a comprehensive approach towards the cause led to the creation of the Mahila Shakti (Women Power) Project. The project aims at enabling rural women at the target village to earn a living by working as assemblers of CFL Light Bulbs and selling them. The Project began in 2014 with a trial group of 5 ladies who devoted their time to the cause. Soon, the project expanded and it currently consists of 35 women working tirelessly together to assemble the CFLs. The target area for the project is Biaora Village in Rajgarh District of Madhya Pradesh.

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What were the problems faced by the community and the project?
> The women were continually exploited by vendors, middlemen and distributers.
> Since these women were just housewives before, there was a lack of professionalism amongst them.
> There was no record of sales accounting or of raw materials’ inventory.
> The team found it quite hard to obtain a market for our final products.
> It was a, for quite some time, non-registered Co-operative Society which created administrative hurdles.
> Assembly of CFLs puts the women at a high risk while doing the soldering work.
> Lack of assembly line production meant that there was difficulty in maintaining standardization and efficiency.

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So, What steps did your team took to solve these problems?
The target now was to make sure that these women could successfully work on the project, and for this purpose, they had to ensure that these women were properly trained. It was also necessary to minimize the health risks in the same. The team took various steps to achieve the same:
> The team hired a trainer to train them in basic skills of soldering and assembling.
> The team created videos so that they can learn after watching as many times they want.
> The team trained them to take few precautions while soldering or assembling.
> The team also trained them to reduce the wastage of raw materials.

The Co-operative was then finally registered under the name “Mahila Shakti”. The team’s aim was to help these women develop an entrepreneurial venture. For that, the team needed to form a brand strategy. So, the team designed a formal packaging system which gave all the details of the product at its cover. Comprehensive market research was carried out to check for availability of raw material and sales potential.

Finally, the team developed a pricing mechanism that turned out to be significantly lower than the existing market prices. They have, for you, a comparative analysis of our team’s product as well as the average of those by the existing market players. As you will see, the product offers same specifications as its competitors but at a significant cost advantage. This is after accounting for considerable revenue for the women.

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Impact of the Project:

> The team’s largest order was that of 90 CFL bulbs including 25 watt bulbs (5), 15 watt bulbs (20), 20 watt bulbs (25) and  27 watt bulbs (20). IIM Indore’s Social Fest also hosted a stall by the women that had sales worth Rs. 2000. Cumulatively, so far, the project has managed to generate a revenue amounting to Rs. 1,40,500. The team is also the process of developing a partnership for online sales mechanism that is expected to give a significant boost to the sales.

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> Socially, the women working for the project have seen a significant improvement in their conditions of living. The team is also proud that their husbands have also helped the team in this initiative by volunteering to procure the raw materials needed. The team consider its biggest achievement that these families were able to afford better education for their children.

> Ecologically as well, the team surveyed that more families have adopted these low energy bulbs over the incandescent tube lights and bulbs.

What began as a small attempt at a social change is in the process of turning into a highly successful market venture. As time goes by, the Team are seeing greater progress in this initiative. The Team shall continue to expand, innovate and help these women to make sure that their efforts give them due returns.