SEWA aims to support the broad aim of economic empowerment by addressing the practical need of women to have more income-generating work.
Members of SEWA have, in their own capacity, done this time and again where women of a trade group come together to register for-profit enterprises, where Women are Owners, Women are Managers, and Women are Beneficiaries. We call these collective social enterprises or सामूहिक उद्योग. In SEWA’s experience, women-owned, women-run collective enterprises along with mobilisation are a strong pathway to sustainable local economies and women’s economic and social empowerment.
Worker cooperatives are less sensitive to market shocks, result in less job loss during downturns, and their lifespan matches or exceeds that of traditional enterprises. They do however face higher costs in raising capital due to the barriers in accessing finance for individual workers.
Every collective social enterprise within SEWA is a for-profit entity that aspires to become a sustainable business. Although such an enterprise must make profits, its main purpose is not profit maximization but attaining social impact, which is economic empowerment of its owners, members, and beneficiaries.