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Rural Women Entrepreneurs: What does it take?

Shobha Shetty's picture

“Sabse jyada munafa chuski mein hai (The biggest margin lies in small ice pops)”, says Shanti Devi with the definitive confidence of a seasoned entrepreneur. Shanti, a resident of Kotwana village in Bihar’s Gaya district runs an ice-cream production and sales unit that has an annual revenue of INR 1.9 million and employs 22 workers for a significant part of the year. While sharing the long list of ice-cream flavours she vends, Shanti also signals at a much larger phenomenon. “Every third shop in this market is run by a JEEViKA member, ranging from grocery and utensil stores to a newspaper agency.”


Shanti is the microcosm of a transformative ecosystem that has nurtured 1.8 million new and existing women entrepreneurs while creating 800,000 new jobs in India. The JEEViKA that Shanti refers to, is a World Bank supported program of the Government of Bihar aimed at empowering women through Self-Help groups (SHGs), commodity specific producer groups and higher federations. The approach scaled up nation-wide under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) is driving growth and job creation in rural areas through women-owned enterprises.

Today there are 45 million rural women across India that are mobilized into self-help groups under the NRLM umbrella. Some 3.9 million SHGs and their federations have been empowered with skills, access to finance, markets, and business development services.  This is triggering a huge change in the lives of the rural women.

To improve female labour force participation in Sri Lanka, first change attitudes

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
Sri Lankan Women
Read the feature story here 
Earlier this year in Hatton, I met a group of talented, young adults who had just participated in a social innovation pilot program. They were enthusiastic and dynamic, brimming with potential. But the potential to realize that potential was going to be influenced along gender lines; the expectations and obligations to the families were the most important determinants.   
 
I heard about some of these challenges. One girl had an ailing mother at home and was responsible for her care; another struggled to study on weekends while working on weekdays, with both activities requiring long commutes. One young lady, T. Priya, who had just graduated from university with a BA, told me she was currently unemployed because she was determined to wait for the right job—which to her, meant joining the public sector. You’d be amazed at how often I have heard this from young Sri Lankans. Unfortunately, as we all know too well, there are only a limited number of these positions available. 
Getting Sri Lanka's Women to Work


This week, the World Bank published Getting to Work: Unlocking Women’s Potential in Sri Lanka’s Labor Force. The report notes that the number of women participating in Sri Lanka’s workforce is low, that women under 30 are facing high rates of unemployment and that wage disparities still exist between the sexes.  
 
Among its findings is that women like Priya, despite having high educational attainments (university level or higher), still queue for a limited number of public sector jobs which raises their rates of unemployment. Government jobs are seen as offering more flexible hours and financial security than private sector jobs.
 
Another issue is that the burden of household responsibilities and chores fall disproportionately on women. When women got married, it made it harder, not easier, for them to go to work, and this was only exacerbated when women had children.
 
For men, the situation is somewhat different. As of 2015, marriage lowered the odds of Female Labour Force Participation by 4.4 percentage points, while boosting men’s odds by 11 percentage points.  
 
But I think the roots of this problem go deeper, and start early. Young girls learn that it’s not important to be good at maths or sciences and many more pursue degrees in humanities and the arts, widely considered gender appropriate, rather than in the technical skills that are in demand in the private sector and growing industries.
 
This is only one way in which we limit our daughters.

Stitching Dreams: In Tamil Nadu, Rural Women Show the Way to Start Up India

Samik Sundar Das's picture
In our travels across rural Tamil Nadu we met many women who had a great deal of experience in working in the large garments factories of the state – in Tiruppur and Chennai. But, after getting married their family responsibilities forced them to leave their jobs and return to their villages. Now these young women have put their years of experience to use and are setting up small enterprises in their home villages, sewing garments for India’s huge domestic market. It is a win-win situation for all. Working out of thatched huts and refurbished cowsheds, the newly-minted women entrepreneurs not only turn in a tidy profit but also create much-needed employment for others. The large garment manufacturing companies, faced with crippling shortages of skilled labor, now outsource orders to these units. Today, these fast-growing women’s enterprises have not only opened up new avenues for rural women to work, boosting female labor force participation, but also added a new grassroots and gender dimension to the idea of Start Up India.   
 
As we entered the small hut of rammed earth thatched with coconut leaves, the sounds we heard belonged to a different world. Amidst the whir of industrial sewing machines, nine young women were busy stitching bolts of fabric into men’s shirts, destined for India’s vast domestic market for low-cost garments.  
 
Once a large cow shed, a garment unit today.

This was Inam Koilpatti village in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu. Even though many villages in the state were rapidly urbanising, this village still had many huts, and prosperity was yet to arrive.
 
Two young women, Indhurani and Gurupakkiam, ran this tiny unit. Born with an entrepreneurial spirit, these women have unwittingly given a much-needed boost to the idea of ‘Start Up India’ in this poor region.
 
“We were both working at a company in Thalavaipuram,” they began. (Thalavaipuram is an emerging garments hub nearby.) “But, with family responsibilities it was getting hard for us to travel 20 km to work. Three years ago we approached our employer with a proposition. We would set up a unit in our village, if he would give us orders,” they narrated.

When Afghan refugees come home

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
When it comes to conflict and displacement, we often think about the refugees forced to flee their homes. Equally affected, however, are the ones making their way home after a trying time in exile—the returnees.

In South Asia, Afghanistan is a country experiencing a huge influx of returnees, many from Pakistan and Iran. In 2016 alone, the country welcomed 600,000 returnees. UNHCR predicts another 500,000 to 700,000 returnees by the end of 2017.

On top of that, conflict-driven displacement continues in Afghanistan. In a country of over 30 million people, there is an estimated 1-2 million of displaced population (UN-OCHA, UNHCR, IOM).

One can only imagine how much pressure the displacement crisis is putting on the cities and communities hosting refugees and returnees—starting with the challenge of providing basic services such as water and housing, let alone jobs and security.


In this video, World Bank Senior Director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG) and Lead Social Development Specialist Janmejay Singh will unpack the challenge and share how innovative community-driven approaches are helping to support returnees in conflict-affected Afghanistan—through Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project and other World Bank-supported activities.

کله چې افغان کډوال خپل هېواد ته راستنیږي

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Also available in: English | دری
کله چې د جګړو او د هغو له کبله د خلکو د بېځایه کېدو په اړه خبرې کوو، نو زیاتره وختونه د هغو کډوالو په اړه فکر کوو، چې له خپل هېواد څخه وتلو ته اړ شوي دي. دا په داسې حال کې ده، چې هېواد ته د کډوالو د بیرته راستنیدو ستونزه هم په مساویانه او په همغه اندازه د اهمیت وړ ده.

افغانستان په سویلي اسیا کې یوازینی هېواد دی، چې له پاکستان او ایران څخه د زیات شمېر کډوالو د بیرته راستنیدو شاهد دی. د شته معلوماتو له مخې یوازې په ۲۰۱۶ ز کال کې، ۶۰۰۰۰۰ کډوال بیرته افغانستان ته راستانه شوي دي. د کډوالو په چارو کې د ملګرو ملتونو د عالي کمېشنرۍ د دفتر د معلوماتو له مخې، د ۲۰۱۷ کال تر پایه پورې به ښايې له ۵۰۰۰۰۰ څخه تر ۷۰۰۰۰۰ پورې نور کډوال هم افغانستان ته راستانه شي. سربیره پر دې، لا هم د جګړو او ناکراریو له لاسه خلک د خپلو سیمو پریښودلو ته مجبوريږي. د ملګرو ملتونو د بشر پاله مرستو د همغږۍ د ادارې، د کډوالو په چارو کې د ملګرو ملتونو د عالي کمېشنرۍ د دفتر او د کډوالو د نړیوالې ادارې د معلوماتو له مخې، د افغانستان له ۳۰ میلیون وګړو څخه له یوه نه تر دوو میلیونو پورې یې کورني بېځایه شوي وګړي دي.

اوس فکر وکړئ، چې د جګړو او ناکراریو له لاسه د بېځایه کېدو ستونزو به د بېځایه شویو پر کوربه سیمو او ښارونو باندې څومره فشار راوستی وي - په تیره بیا د لومړنیو خدماتو پر وړاندې کولو باندې لکه اوبه او سرپناه او د اشتغال او ټولنیز خوندیتوب په برخو کې.

 


په دغه ویډیو کې، د ټولنیزې پراختیا لوړپوړي کارپوه، جان میجي سنګ د افغانستان د ولسي تړون د برنامې او هغو نورو فعالیتونو له لارې، چې د نړیوال بانک له خوا تمویلیږي د سیمو پر کچه د راستنیدونکو پر وړاندې د پرتو ننګوونو او ستونزو  د نوښتګرانه حل او مرستې په اړه خبرې کړي دي.


زمانیکه مهاجرین افغان به خانه بر می گردند

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
زمانیکه در باره موضوعات جنگ و بیجا شدن مردم ناشی از آن صحبت میکنیم، اغلباً در بارۀ انعده مهاجرین که مجبور به فرار از وطن شده اند، فکر می کنیم. این در حالیست که معضله برگشت دوباره مهاجرین به وطن  نیز بطور مساویانه و به همان پیمانه قابل اهمیت است.

 افغانستان یگانه کشوری در حوزه جنوب اسیا است که شاهد بیشترین موج عودت کننده گان از کشورهای پاکستان و یا ایران میباشد. براساس ارقام موجود تنها در سال ۲۰۱۶ میلادی، ۶۰۰۰۰ عودت کننده به افغانستان برگشته اند. طبق پیش بینی های دفتر کمیشنری عالی سازمان ملل متحد برای مهاجرین، الی ختم سال ۲۰۱۷؛ ممکن ۵۰۰۰۰۰ الی ۷۰۰۰۰۰ عودت کننده دیگر نیز به این کشور برخواهند گشت. علاوه بر آن، هنوز هم، مردم مجبور به ترک مناطق مسکونی شان در اثر جنگ و نا امنی ها میشوند. قرارمعلومات دفاتر هماهنگی کمک های بشردوستانه ملل متحد، کمیشنری عالی سازمان ملل متحد برای مهاجرین و سازمان بین المللی مهاجرت از جمله ۳۰ میلیون نفوس افغانستان، یک الی دو میلیون آنان بیجاشده گان داخلی می باشند. 

 حالا تصور کنید که معضل بیجا شدن ناشی از جنگ و ناامنی؛ تا چه اندازه فشار را بالای شهرها و محلاتیکه میزبان عودت کننده گان اند، وارد نموده است - به خصوص از چگونگی فراهم سازی خدمات اولیه همانند آب و مسکن، تا تامین زمینه های اشتغال و مصؤنیت اجتماعی.


در این ویدیو، جان میجی سنگ، متخصص ارشد توسعۀ اجتماعی در مورد چالش ها و اینکه چگونه رویکردهای خلاقانه در سطح محلات از طریق برنامه میثاق شهروندی افغانستان و دیگر فعالیت های که از طریق بانک جهانی غرض رسیده گی به چالشها و فراهم اوری تسهیلات برای عودت کننده گان، فراهم میگردد، بحث و گفتگو نموده است.

Taking lessons from rural India to Azerbaijan

Ahmed Ailyev's picture

I have always believed that communities are like musical instruments. You need to tune them properly to hear their divine music. I actually heard this music from rural communities in India. And their song, which still resonates within me, is something I will now take back to my own country.
 
In May 2017, my colleagues and I from the World Bank’s Azerbaijan Rural Investment Project were on an exposure visit to India to see firsthand how self help groups and cooperatives were impacting the lives of rural people.
 

Kerala: AzRIP and Bank team at the Trade Fair of all SHG livelihood groups across Kerala organized by Kudumbashree at Kollam.

In my years of work in rural development, I have found that the unique feature we as human beings have is the ability to share  skills, values and experiences. As we travelled across six states, this proved to be true in all the people we met, be it in large commercial companies or in remote rural  communities.
 
The people told us that transparency and honesty were an essential factor in their success. I also found that the spirit of cooperation was clearly present. Cooperatives belong to all members, they said, and the managers were there to serve the members. The leaders of self help groups, producer organizations, cooperatives, and micro enterprise groups also told us that they must be party to the risk taken by the group, and should lead by example in order to motivate others.

College of Engineering Pune - taking reforms to new heights

Lola Nayar's picture
Reviving an institution to its past glory of being among the best in the country can be a tough task. But after fifteen years of administrative and educational reforms with financial help and guidance of the World Bank and the government, the 160-year-old College of Engineering Pune (COEP) has emerged among the top 25 in the country. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has ranked COEP at 21 out of the top 100 engineering colleges in the country, in the first ever ranking exercise undertaken by it. Even in private sector exercises by various periodicals, COEP, which boasts a heritage building and a workshop complex which reportedly undertook armament manufacturing during the World War II, scores over some of the prestigious IITs and NITs.

Much more than just funding by the World Bank under its Technical Education Quality Improvement Project (TEQIP) has clearly helped COEP not just arrest the slide in academic standards but also reemerge among the top ranking engineering colleges in the country where both the faculty and the students take pride in being meritorious. 

Trophies and certificates of merit can be seen displayed not just in COEP director Prof Bharatkumar B. Ahuja’s airy room in the restored heritage building, which houses the administrative office, but in many other workshops and main halls of the college. Prof Ahuja states with pride that after IITs, it is the first choice of students from the state. 

In an environment where industry is known to be critical of most engineering colleges, COEP has received Rs. 1 crore worth scholarships for students this year. Many of the industries are coming forward to help the college set up labs for promoting innovation. Having got autonomy, a precondition under the World Bank project, COEP is striving to achieve university status to push ahead with its programme to introduce more specializations and research. It boasts of 118 PhDs among its 217 faculty members.
 
Rapid Prototyping Lab : The Rapid Prototyping Laboratory has facilities for making physical objects directly from Computer-Aided Design (CAD) models. UG and PG students use these facilities for experimentation and product development.

During a recent visit, unmindful of the high temperature in the tin roofed workshop of the yore, enthusiastic students could be seen engaged in club activities like robotics, racing car, 3D printing, etc.  The college has over 30 clubs including a satellite club, where like in a relay race projects are started and taken forward by next batch of students. On the fourth floor of one of the buildings,  in a makeshift station the satellite club members monitor and communicate daily with the communication polar satellite Swayam ( the fourth student satellite from India) when it passes over Pune. The club is now working on a new satellite - Solar Sail - with research funding from ISRO.

Empowering a New Generation of Female Entrepreneurs in Afghanistan

Mabruk Kabir's picture
Photo Credit: Mabruk Kabir / World Bank

Fatima brimmed with optimism. The 19-year-old recently established a poultry enterprise with the support of a micro-grant, and was thrilled at the prospect of financial independence.

“After my family moved from Pakistan, I had few options for work,” she said from her home in the Paghman district in the outskirts of Kabul. “The grant not only allowed me to start my own poultry business, but let me work from my own home.”

With over half the population under the age of 15, Afghanistan stands on the cusp of a demographic dividend. To reach their full potential, Afghanistan’s youth need to be engaged in meaningful work – enabling young people to support themselves, but also contribute to the prosperity of their families and communities.

For Bangladeshi women, road maintenance brings better opportunities

Ashis Bhadra's picture
Bangladeshi women holding basket above their heads while working on road project. The Second Bangladesh Rural Transport Improvement Project interventions have created approximately 50,000 person-years of employment in project areas, out of which 30% were for poor women.
Bangladeshi women holding baskets above their heads while working on a road project. The Second Bangladesh Rural Transport Improvement Project has generated nearly 50,000 person-years of employment in project areas, out of which 30% were for poor women. Credit: World Bank

Not long after her husband suddenly died in 2012, Kunti Rabi Das struggled to put three square meals on the table for her family of three. Kunti, a member of the minority ethnic dalit community and living in the remote Rajnagar upazila under the Moulvibazar district of Bangladesh, simply didn’t have the means to produce enough to live on. Moreover, her prospects for any work that could support her family were dim.
 
That was her predicament until a Union Parishad (or village administrative council) representative introduce her to the Performance Based Maintenance Contract, or PBMC, program. Under PBMC, Kunti cleans drains, fills pits, clears minor blockades and plants trees on roadways near her home. Working six days a week, she earns up to 4,500 Taka per month.
 
The program provides a cost-effective and time-saving approach to keeping Bangladesh’s rural roads in optimal riding condition during every season. At the same time, it improves the lives and livelihoods of the country’s poorest women, who are given priority among other contractors vying for the work, according to the World Bank’s women’s empowerment principles.

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