Mumbai, Mar 18 IBNS | 4 months ago

The RUDI Sandesh Vyavhar project, a collaborative effort between Vodafone Foundation, SEWA and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women was honoured at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona for The Best Mobile Product, Initiative or Service in Emerging Markets category.


On behalf of the project, the award was received by Vodafone India MD & CEO Marten Pieters and Cherie Blair in Barcelona, Spain.

The award presented in a ceremony in Barcelona, which offers organisations across the global mobile eco-system (including all converging vertical sectors) the opportunity to showcase the latest and best mobile products, apps, services and initiatives to the world. The global mobile award for SEWA gives the project credit on a global platform and is the highest in its category of recognition.

Accepting the award, MD & CEO, Vodafone India, Marten Pieters said: "Women in rural India face several challenges. Given its wide reach, mobile telephony is an effective and efficient medium to provide last mile delivery of products and services that they need. The RUDI project, where Vodafone Foundation has partnered with SEWA and the Cherie Blair Foundation is an excellent example of how rural women entrepreneurs are now using mobile phones to manage their purchase, sales and inventory resulting in substantial increase in their incomes. Such awards and recognition, I believe, salute the sustained spirit of innovation that drives all such projects and enables to bring a meaningful change in the society."

RUDI Sandesh Vyavhar (RSV) is a mobile-based management solution for the Rural Distribution Network (RUDI) of Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) in rural Gujarat.

Developed as a collaborative effort by the Vodafone Foundation, Cherie Blair Foundation for women and SEWA, RSV enables Rudibens to order stock from the field (often distant villages), receive important updates from the RUDI Company in real time, and run reports on their business - all with the convenience of automated text messaging on feature phones.

It has eliminated inefficiencies by tracking all primary and secondary sales in the central supply chain and transferring the entire management of the RUDI business from a paper based system to one based on a secure electronic backend. The software was developed by Ekgaon Technologies - a local vendor based in India.

Since its launch at the Mobile for Good Summit, December 2012, London, UK, more than 1,000 RUDI women have been trained on the RSV tool. The women who have used the tool have already seen benefits. For example, there are RUDI Women who earned Rs. 4,000-5,000 per month, now generating incomes of Rs. 12,000-15,000, effectively tripling or quadrupling sales, through using the RSV tool.

One woman who previously reported only being able to afford one meal a day for her family can now afford two.

Future plans include up scaling the impact and integrating M-pesa to the RSV tool with an aim to benefit 2,500 women in Gujarat by 2015. The easy adaptability and functionality of the RSV tool provides many opportunities to scale up RUDI operations in other states as well.

The next step involves technical enhancement of the RSV tool and incorporation of Vodafone's M-Pesa service into the RUDI channel. Eleven additional technical features will include elements such as SMS alerts on orders, a mobile app for customers to place direct orders with Rudibens and a feature that will enable the transfer of customer-specific transaction data from the phones of the RUDI women directly to the RSV backend.

Expressing her happiness at the award, Reema Nanavaty, Director of SEWA said,"The Best Mobile Product, Initiative or Service in Emerging Markets award to Rudi Sandesha Vyavhar (RSV) application jointly developed by SEWA, the Cherie Blaire Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation demonstrates - how investing right technology in rural, poor, small farmers agribusiness initiative, strengthens the supply chain, makes it competitive to mainstream small farmers and women for Private Sector Partnership. The Rudi Sandesha Vyavhar strengthens the business opportunities, but also improves household nutrition and food security."

Cherie Blair, the Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation said, "I am thrilled that our project with SEWA and the Vodafone Foundation in India has received this award. This is a testament, not only to the work that organisations like Sewa are doing for women, but to the power that mobile technology can have. This simple, user-friendly application that we have developed is transforming women's lives. It is my hope that our project will inspire other organisations to use innovative technology solutions to do more to support women's economic empowerment."

(Posted on 18-03-2014)