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CSR partnership with private university in Alwar, Rajasthan, to support rural women entrepreneurs

In rural India, the daily struggle to access fresh water is a significant challenge, especially for women who are typically responsible for fetching water. In regions like Alwar, Rajasthan, this task can consume up to four hours each day. However, Alwar is witnessing a transformative change through an initiative spearheaded by the Hinduja Foundation (HF) and Ashok Leyland (AL).

Five years after implementing sustainable water resource management initiatives, the Hinduja Foundation and Ashok Leyland are now focusing on empowering women as entrepreneurs. Building on the success of their flagship CSR Water Stewardship program, Jal Jeevan, they are launching a new initiative to train 450 women in Alwar.

The first phase of this initiative will train 30 women in the food industry and tailoring business. The project is a collaboration between the Hinduja Foundation, Ashok Leyland, and BML Munjal University (BMU), through its Atal Community Innovation Centre (ACIC-BMU). The university will partner with Sujal Mahila Mahasangh Alwar (SMMA), a grassroots organization supported by HF and AL, to implement this program.

SMMA is a collective of women who lead village-level planning and promote Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) practices. This pilot program has identified 450 women, known as Sujal Sahelis, who aspire to be self-reliant entrepreneurs.

The new venture by Sujal Mahila Mahasangh Alwar is seen as a testament to the benefits accrued under the Jal Jeevan program, which started in February 2020 with an investment of approximately Rs 9 crore and has benefited about 31,000 rural women to date.

The objective is to facilitate the successful launch of micro-businesses for a minimum of 80% of the involved Sujal Sahelis. The goals of ACIC-BMU include community development, entrepreneurship, and innovation. This partnership with Sujal Mahila Mahasangh is an example of this commitment.

Paul Abraham, President of Hinduja Foundation, stated that the partnership with BML Munjal University aims to empower Sujal Sahelis with the skills and resources needed to become successful entrepreneurs. This program aligns with the foundation’s mission to create sustainable livelihoods and foster economic independence among women in rural communities. By providing essential training and support, the initiative aims to unlock these women’s full potential, contributing to the holistic development of their communities.

Dr. Davinder Singh, CEO of ACIC-BMU, noted that the needs assessment indicated a strong desire among village women to utilize their existing skills to generate income and support their families. This enthusiasm inspired the launch of the program, which aims to provide the necessary training and resources. Singh expressed gratitude to Paul Abraham for supporting this empowering initiative for the Sujal Sahelis. The goal is to establish a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem that empowers women and significantly contributes to the region’s economic development.

The Ambuja Foundation is one of the groups working together on this initiative, and SWAN Livelihood is the partner in charge of putting the training into action. President Sangeeta’s Sujal Mahila Mahasangh is instrumental in making this project possible.

The reshuffle in Alwar’s approach to community development comes at a crucial time. Despite significant investment, the super app Tata Neu, launched in April 2022, has not yet met expectations, contributing less than 10% to the gross sales of platforms like BigBasket and 1mg. The new leadership structure at Tata Digital, under CEO Naveen Tahilyani, aims to streamline operations and improve business focus, reflecting a broader trend towards efficiency and accountability in the tech and development sectors.

This initiative in Alwar highlights the potential for community-driven programs to foster economic independence and improve quality of life, showcasing a model that could be replicated in other regions facing similar challenges.

Sadhna B

Sadhna B

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