Giving Compass' Take:
- Women in rural communities across India have the potential to pursue climate resilience and economic growth when given adequate investment.
- What are ways that donors can support the role of rural women in climate action?
- Learn more about empowering rural women and girls through data.
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As the world continues to search for climate change solutions, the investment in women from rural communities in countries such as India can spur gender equity, economic prosperity as well as sustainable climate progress in the Global South.
Ajaita Shah, founder and CEO of Frontier Markets, thinks that investment should be about building strategic initiatives for women entrepreneurs, also known as Saheli’s, to reframe how economic growth and climate resilience go hand-in-hand in creating a consumer marketplace for marginalized markets.
Since 2011, Frontier Markets has worked towards this goal, becoming the largest social commerce platform dedicated to solving rural supply-chain issues for over 900 million people in rural India, who according to Shah represent a $100 billion market opportunity.
This is in part due to the creation of a Saheli network of over 21,000 entrepreneurs, who showcase products, assist with e-commerce purchases and collect rich insights on customer demands and needs. And with this information Frontier Markets has been able to identify characteristics about the rural customer and the growing climate challenges they face.
"Women are community enablers," said Shah during her keynote at GreenBiz’s annual climate-tech conference, VERGE 22. "They are incredible influencers. They are already powerful, and already have a nexus and ability to actually make changes happen."
The women in this network of Saheli, are mothers, farmers, community members and Shah's favorite "powerful entrepreneurs who have access to literally millions of customers, which gives Frontier Market a firsthand look at exactly what those rural communities face."
Frontier Markets has created a marketplace throughout 4,000 villages across seven states in India, and has sold more than 10 million products to 500,000 rural households, making a foundational impact with new technology and resources such as home appliances, smartphones, healthcare services and even bringing cattle feed to the doorsteps of rural households.
Shah adds that the investment in rural women goes beyond giving them the tools to become entrepreneurs — it’s about creating long-term sustainability for all in the value chain. And though the company earns commission from each sale, and marketing fees from suppliers, Frontier Markets ensures profit sharing as well, with 70 percent of revenue going to its saleswomen and the remaining 30 percent used to scale into new locations.
Read the full article about rural women and climate by Jonathan Gomez at GreenBiz.