Client – The SEWA Shantipath Program
Background – The Shantipath Program was born out of SEWA’s relief work in response to the Gujarat riots of 2002. Though the cause of the riots is still debated the riots were based in conflict between the Hindu and Muslim communities within Gujarat. The Indian Prime Minister tasked SEWA with providing for the widows and orphans created during this violence. Through religious education, vocational training, and schooling Shantipath has made significant progress mending the damage of this atrocity. One key way that the “Shanta-bens” (Peace Sisters) were able to accomplish this was through linking women with livelihoods. This provided both income and empowerment for women within their family and community.
Initial Project Mandate – Assess the impact of these centers as training and business hubs and recommend ways to increase livelihood opportunities
Post Field Project Mandate – Develop a plan for implementation of two pilot “Business Hub”, a marketing brochure, and an impact assessment of the Shantipath Peace Centre Program.
Challenge – Create a viable solution with the scope to grow with the economic landscape of the Ahmedabad based on minimal information.
Personal Impact – Prior to leaving for India it was mentioned during one of our information sessions that the women we would be working with are very intelligent and capable, and that is exactly what they were. Most of the senior management has completed graduate level education, and even those members with an eight-grade education have years of experience addressing the livelihood problems within Ahmedabad. In the last 10 years these women have increased the income, skill, and employment levels of the SEWA membership in their communities. We were not there to provide some unique insight through the lens of a US MBA student, but to provide an additional perspective. The main reason that I went to India was to experience the informal jobs sector in India and my experience with the leaders and membership far exceeded my expectations.