Rachaita Cooperative’s Week Overview

We had a busy week last week, working with the Rachaita team each day to learn as much as possible about the Construction Cooperative. Thanks to Varshaben and lots of masala chai, here’s an overview of what we have done:

Monday – Overview of the history and backbone of Rachaita Cooperative.
We met Varshaben, the Manager of Rachaita and our invaluable resource for the week. She shared the background and history of Rachaita. SEWA has been lobbying the government to help support women construction workers, through insurance, educational programs and scholarships. This lobbying has been at a standstill and Rachaita is trying to keep momentum with members. (From my first post, you’ll remember that Rachaita Cooperative strives to create jobs security and fair wages, self-empowerment for its workers.)

Tuesday – Visit to the crossroads, Tools Library and Chamanpura Site.
This whole day is better outlined in my previous post, but it was a great way to see first-hand the life of construction workers. Onsite at a large construction project (Chamanpura), we met with all types of workers. Up to 25 women workers are managed by a Rachaita supervisor—a women that has worked construction in the past and knows how each job should be done in the areas of measurement (estimate work), labor supply (unskilled work) and finishing (cleaning and final touches).

Wednesday – Digging into financials
We had to opportunity to spend time with the accountant for all Urban SEWA projects (thank you Kavitaben!) It was interesting to dig into Rachaita’s financials, accounting and recording systems. This day we had a big scope breakthrough. We learned that a main goal for Rachaita is becoming financially self-reliant. This changed the focus of our scope, now our main objective will be creating a growth plan that will address this goal.

Thursday – Hearing the voice of the skilled workers and executive committee.
The construction workers only get one day off from work each month. And do you know how twelve of those women spent their day off this month? Meeting with our team and Rachaita leadership to talk about the successes and wishes for their jobs and the Rachaita cooperative. It was a humbling and informative experience. We hope that our business plan will reflect these women’s observations so they feel like they have been heard.

Friday – Analysis of the Payroll System
Alkaben, the bookkeeper for Rachaita, walked us through the payroll system. As you can imagine, tracking payment for 350 workers by hand can be quite the task. We saw how she works with the workers, supervisors, and management to create accurate billings and payroll. We are looking forward to helping standardize and streamline this system for her and the team.

Saturday – Project Scope Presentation
Saturday was the day to meet with the Rachaita team and Manaliben to present our scope document that will shape our work for the next two months.  After all of our interviews and data collecting, we finalized our scope: We are going to build a growth plan for Rachaita that will make them financially self-reliant and make the best use of their capital. We will provide structure to their organizational chart that will help as they grow, as well as suggestions to improve their Tool Library.


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