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Women’s Enterprise Support System2022-04-19T04:07:03+00:00

Nurturing Women-led Grassroots Enterprises

Accelerators and Incubators have been recognized as useful inputs for entrepreneurship support globally, but none yet are designed for the needs of grassroots women-run businesses.

Given the specific challenges of grassroots women, there is a need for handholding and longer-term support, proximate to enterprises. We have developed this as a Women’s Enterprise Support System (WESS). It has been imagined as a hub that caters to women-in-business at the grassroots: in any sector, at any stage, and in any geographical location.

The Women’s Enterprise Support System works with a selected cohort of enterprises, with the goal of putting them on the path of financial sustainability. Our core strength is in the ability to nurture the leadership of informal women workers to self-govern and self-manage.

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The  Women’s Enterprise Support System

SEWA’s Women Enterprise Support System (WESS) is a branch of the SEWA movement, with the purpose of incubating and accelerating more women-run collective enterprises. The focus group of the ESS is women workers in the informal economy, both urban and rural, and their micro and collective enterprises. Since most of our members have never been business owners themselves, SEWA supports in organizing groups in a community, building their operational capacities and then registering collective businesses.

Cohort 2020-2023

Karn Bhumi Farmer Producer Company

Bihar’s only women-led FPO, Karnabhoomi was set up in 2018 by 750 women shareholders across two districts: Munger and Bhagalpur. It works to provide access to good quality and timely agricultural inputs, and to support farmers in selling their produce.

Bihar Mahila Sakh Swavlambi Sahkari Samiti

Bihar’s only women-led credit cooperative, this credit cooperative has 12,000 shareholders across 3 districts: Bhagalpur, Katihar, and Munger. The enterprise enables regular savings, and access to loans and other financial products.

SEWA Sarthak

Sarthak SEWA Pvt. Ltd. is an enterprise that promotes financial inclusion via business correspondents, currently spanning 4 districts of Uttarakhand and 3 districts of Punjab. It extends financial services and literacy to rural and remote unbanked populations with core values of financial transparency, social service, and quality customer service at its heart.

Ruaab SEWA Artisans’ Producer Company

Ruaab SEWA Artisans’ Producer Company was founded by the home-based workers of Delhi and silk weavers of Bihar in 2009, as an intervention to the social and financial exploitation of women in the garment supply chain. It is owned and operated by the artisans, providing them control of their work and production. Ruaab is on a journey of reshaping the artisans’ roles within the global supply chain and also, in their homes and communities.

Delhi Thrift & Credit Cooperative

Mahila SEWA Urban Cooperative Thrift & Credit Society Ltd. was founded in 2007, for more than 7000 women in Delhi. This self-managed cooperative provides women with saving schemes, access to credit and has enabled women to be financially independent. As women have ownership over the organization, all the financial services are dynamic and needs-based to suit women workers of the informal economy.

Intervention Methods of the WESS

SEWA ESS has been designed as a holistic Women Enterprise Support System, which works with grassroots women-run enterprises across sectors, geographies, and any stage of business growth. The approach undertaken is in-depth business support integrated with mobilising and social protection.

In-depth intervention

Built as a 3-year partnership, where the enterprise and the ESS join hands to achieve agreed-upon business and impact goals.

Features of the program:

  • In-depth Needs Assessment
  • Mentor matching
  • Professional support
  • Long-term flexible investment
  • Access to all ESS services
  • Capacity Building of Board, Staff, and Shareholders

Light touch support

Short-term engagements with enterprises as per their needs, ranging from 3 to 6 months of work. ESS offers a range of services like training, marketing, operational support, report writing and documentation, and any other business needs.

Peer networks

Enterprises once connected to the ESS, can join in discussion groups with other women-run enterprises in the same sector. At this point, we are hosting two peer networks in two core SEWA domains: one of artisans enterprises and another of agricultural enterprises.

Services Offered

Matching with Mentors, Professional Managers, & Industry Experts

Pro-bono or subsidized services by professionals with industry and leadership experience

Enterprise Development Services

Strategy & Business Planning, HR & Institution Development, Finance & Compliance, Capital Support, Market Linkages, Marketing communications, Data Analytics, Market research, Digital Literacy

Continuous Capacity Building for Leadership, Management, & Governance

Governance and leadership related for grassroots management, technical skill building

Strengthen Organising and Social Protection

Social Protection services such as Healthcare, Childcare, and Insurance, Trade-related issues, Formation of collective identity

Leverage Government Schemes and Platforms

Public procurement, Government schemes for enterprises, linkages to govt. programs, advocacy

An Innovation Lab

Unlocking opportunities by continuously adapting market developments for and with women in the informal economy

The gains of innovation are often last to reach poor, informal women workers. The Innovation Lab bridges this gap and brings new opportunities to these women, designed as per their needs and by developing sustainable models.

Women in Tourism: Homestay hosts
Women as Grassroots Researchers: Digital data collection
Women in Public Transport: Women as e-rickshaw drivers
Women as Online Sellers: Helping women entrepreneurs & enterprises sell online

Case Studies

Get in touch with a representative

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