COL’s comprehensive support to the Mann Deshi Foundation (MDF) in India has helped empower the most vulnerable persons to withstand the economic impact of COVID-19. In November 2020, MDF launched the Mann Deshi eBazaar, a digital platform for rural women to sell a wide range of locally crafted products during the pandemic.
Ms Vanita Shinde, Chief Administrative Officer at MDF, noted that many women entrepreneurs from different villages who generally sell their products in the local market and eagerly await festivals and other special occasions “to bag a good income and meet with customers from metro cities” were forced to shut down their businesses due to COVI-19. Via the eBazaar, more than 30 women entrepreneurs have been able to market their products.
COL’s GIRLS Inspire has assisted MDF to increase access for economically disadvantaged women and girls to financial and non-financial services and boost their aspirations to become entrepreneurs. They have been trained in locally relevant business skills and learned ways to create market linkages. As well, skill-based value chains have been developed in communities to sell local products and services online.
Ms Frances Ferreira, COL Education Specialist: Gender, noted: “GIRLS Inspire is a model for women’s empowerment and one of its building blocks is to achieve sustainable livelihoods. This requires a holistic approach to developing their assets and economic capabilities.”
Most recently, COL’s Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F) programme helped some 4,500 women develop skills to access new markets online via basic cell phones.
“COL has offered innovative solutions to rural women, helping them overcome some of the impact of extended lockdown due to COVID- 19 and continue their business without interruption,” said Dr Moses Tenywa, COL Education Specialist: Agriculture and Livelihoods.