Satrajit Sen

Vodafone promotes mobile app for rural women entrepreneurs

Launched as a pilot project in January, 2013 with 10 women, it has impacted about 1000 women. Vodafone has launched an online video to promote the initiative.

Supply chain management of farming activities in rural India has always been questionable for marginal farmers. Surplus grown and sold may be minimal, and middlemen buy from farmers at very low prices, resulting in profit margins on production that barely allow for survival.

Vodafone promotes mobile app for rural women entrepreneurs
Keeping this in view, and as a part of its Mobile for Good initiative, Vodafone Foundation in India in collaboration with the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) and Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, has developed
- a mobile application for rural women entrepreneurs for the Rural Distribution Network of SEWA in Gujarat.

Rural Distribution Network, commonly called the RUDI Network, was launched to raise the economic status of women farmers within the SEWA network in a sustainable, scalable and systematic manner by nurturing livelihoods at all levels of the rural supply chain. RUDI Multi Trading Company aims to generate funds, internal to the SEWA network, that enhance the quality, capacity and efficiency of rural production.

The RSV solution works on simple mobile feature phones. It has automated the supply chain process, bringing in efficiencies for RUDI women to sell farm produce within their local communities, reduce travel time for these women by 90 per cent and generate more business opportunities.

RUDI women can now place orders real time, record sales, receive messages from the RUDI team, maintain daily sales reports, customer ledgers and financial updates. It also enables the RUDI management to reduce inefficiencies that contributed to loss of 15-20 per cent in potential sales and revenue through central tracking and technology.

The app was launched as a pilot project in January 2013 with 10 women each in Anand and Surendranagar in Gujarat. Since launch, about 1000 women have been impacted, more than 50 per cent have effectively quadrupled their incomes.

Vodafone promotes mobile app for rural women entrepreneurs
Marten Pieters, MD and CEO, Vodafone India, says, "Rural women face a lot of barriers to be financially independent. Given its wide reach, mobile telephony is an effective medium to empower them. As a step in this direction for women, the mobile-based solution for the Rural Distribution Network works towards livelihood security for women. The SMS-based solution to streamline the management information system has helped these rural women entrepreneurs improve their productivity and increase their income. We look forward to scale it up to the next level and help more rural women to reach their full economic potential."

As per Vodafone, by end of 2014, 2500 RUDI women across 14 districts in more than 1000 villages of Gujarat will touch 2.5 million people through this mobile solution.

Celebrating the success of the app, the foundation has now launched a digital video which depicts how RSV has been a primary tool in taking the idea of RUDI forward.

Modern technology has vastly speeded up communication and the transmission of information, helping businesses to become more efficient and productive. Making sure that everyone has access to mobile technology is vitally important in tackling global poverty and spreading prosperity. In today's economy, access to information and communication technologies is hugely transformational, particularly to traditionally marginalised populations, such as rural women or low-income families.

The RUDI Sandesha Vyavhar (RSV) app has been given a GSMA mWomen Innovation Fund Grant. The $140,000 grant will be used to enhance the functionality of the RSV application and also integrate Vodafone's M-Pesa mobile money payment platform to expand the RUDI network for fostering livelihoods of more rural women.

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