Project Shakti by HUL – In the blazing heat, we commonly encounter ladies selling or distributing household supplies such as detergents, soaps, and sanitizers. Have you ever wondered who is behind them or why these ladies are being empowered?
According to the Ministry of Statistics’ Periodic Labour Force Survey, the proportion of women in the labor force has been declining. According to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2022, India ranked 135th out of 146 countries, underperforming smaller neighbors such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal. It is one of five countries where gender disparity exceeds 5%, along with China, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, and Qatar. In such a dreadful circumstance, Project Shakti is a brilliant knight in shining armor for the impoverished rural women population.
Furthermore, women make up only 18.6% of those working or looking for work in India. According to the 2011 Census, India has 149.8 million working women, 121.8 million of whom live in rural regions. According to Census data, the percentage of women relocating from rural to urban areas for job and business has increased from 47% in 2001 to 58% in 2011.
In 2001, Hindustan Unilever launched Project Shakti with the goal of empowering rural women from underprivileged backgrounds. This effort focuses on small communities with populations of no more than 2,000 people. Shakti is organized in Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and seeks to improve living conditions in rural India. The project offers rural women with the equipment and training they need to work as an extension of the business, allowing the women to generate much-needed additional income for their families.
Project Shakti by HUL
Shakti Ammas, or female entrepreneurs, are taught the foundations of distribution management as well as product knowledge. HUL’s team of Rural Sales Promoters (RSPs) coaches these Shakti Ammas by familiarizing them with the product line. Furthermore, they educate students the principles of sales and problem-solving, as well as supporting them in building soft skills such as communication and negotiating.
Shakti Vani, a social communication program, is part of the project. Women with training in health and hygiene issues contact local communities through presentations at school assemblies, village baithaks, SHG meetings, and other social gatherings.
Following product training, Shakti Ammas acquires supplies from the company’s rural distributor at a discount from the standard price. The Shakti Ammas then sells these products in village stores and directly to consumers (through home-to-home marketing).
Project Shakti has almost 120,000 female micro-entrepreneurs in 18 states. With the network having increased in the preceding four years, it now reaches half of rural India’s villages. The Project has aided in enhancing the general standard of living in their families by allowing the average Shakti Amma to earn a sustainable monthly income of approximately $14, which is double their normal household income. Furthermore, it has provided rural women with the opportunity to significantly improve their living situations.
During the epidemic, when most businesses were interrupted, the Shakti network played an important role in HUL’s distribution route. Thanks to the efforts of these Shakti Ammas, HUL was able to significantly increase the physical reach of its products to rural homes.
In several cases, the Shakti Ammas traveled to distributors to gather up supplies, which they then distributed to nearby households. This was a significant aspect in HUL’s ability to reach the most vulnerable sectors in society with its merchandise.
During the outbreak, when most businesses were shut down, the Shakti network was critical to HUL’s distribution route. HUL was able to greatly enhance the physical reach of its products to rural homes because to the efforts of these Shakti Ammas.
The Shakti Ammas traveled to distributors in numerous cases to obtain goods, which they then gave to surrounding communities. This was an important factor in HUL’s capacity to reach the most vulnerable segments of society with its products.
The Shakti model is not extensively employed by rural enterprises. However, the majority are developing items, particularly for these areas, in order to increase rural penetration. It is worth noting that Shakti was classified as a CSR initiative, and HUL invested 53 crore in the network.
The success of Project Shakti serves as a reminder that businesses may empower women and the economy in accordance with the Indian Constitution’s requirement for social justice. Project Shakti is a method for improving the status of women in a country like India, where they are the most vulnerable sector of society.