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This Entrepreneur Is Building India’s 1st All-Women Community Of Delivery Agents!

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          Sharing winsome start-up stories

By Susmita Barman:

The community chat alert introducing SHEpreneur Revathi Roy on the SHEROES app, really struck a chord with me. She was responsible for building a community of women delivery agents (DAs) in her logistics start-up Hey Deedee, and I wanted to know more about Revathi and her start-up journey.

I was also curious to know, how these women DAs felt taking up work in such a male-dominated space, but more than anything, I was awe-inspired to learn about a life-changing fact shared by Revathi – “My inspiration was my need. I had just lost my husband and had to feed 3 children and bring them up. The only thing I knew was driving and so, I became a cab driver and started to earn money on a daily basis.”

This left me wide-eyed, and I excitedly waited for the community chat to kick off. What I particularly love about SHEROES community chats are the candid conversations that give an insight into the journeys, struggles, and vision of leading ladies like Revathi Roy. Before Hey Deedee, she began her company FORSCHE, the world’s first platform that trained and placed women to become professional drivers. Wow. What a great example of women empowering women through social entrepreneurship!

Bringing you snippets from the candid conversations, where Revathi supported women entrepreneurs in pursuing their aspirations…

               Shooting away our questions

Shiny: Before starting something should we need to research the market competitors or the key is to do something that no one has done before?

Revathi: Hey! Shiny, one can’t always start something which no one has done before. The key is to do it well even if it’s an existing business. Like, so many restaurants keep opening. However, it’s good to do research and understand the gaps.

Ameena: I want to know about e-commerce businesses and marketing, like Amazon, E-bay & Flipkart. I’m searching for such business information in detail.

Revathi: We’re DAs for e-com companies and all DAs are girls. There’s huge potential in this business. World Bank says that this will become a 220 billion dollar industry by 2020. We want women to take control of this opportunity. We want to create job opportunities for 1 lakh women by 2020 by offering services in 200 cities. SHEROES community can help us do this. Let’s create a revolution!

Susmita: Was engaging women workforce for a male-dominated work a tough call? What has been your experience with frontline women workers?

Revathi: Yes! Engaging in a male-dominated field was tough because I had the herculean task of convincing both people who would work and people who would use the service.

   Invaluable insight into business dynamics

Shiva: What are the essentials to start up? I’m very much interested to have my start-up specifically in healthcare analytics. Few guiding tips will be helpful to me.

Revathi: The first and foremost ingredient is passion and clarity of thought as to what you want to do.

Anonymous: Madam, how to become a driver in your company?

Revathi: Anonymous please come and meet my COO and she’ll tell you the process of becoming a DA.

Merril: For 100s of years, businesses have made money, but they haven’t necessarily been good for the planet. Would love to hear stories about the social transformations of your riders.

Revathi: Every girl of mine is a story of transformation and independence. These are real girls with real stories. Do watch our story on CNBC. Also, if you Google CNBC Revathi Roy, you’ll be able to watch it.

Harshita: My plan is to start a microfinance start-up – a platform where people hold the power to create opportunities for themselves and others by lending as little as INR 1000. I don’t have fund and I’m crowdfunding a nominal INR 5 from people. How to convince people because they’re expressing doubt?

Revathi: Whenever there’s money involved there’ll be doubts. I’m not a great proponent of crowdfunding. A POC (proof of concept) is first necessary.

Ankita: What if I fail after arranging funds externally and starting my business? There’ll be regret. How to handle this situation?

Revathi: If you don’t fail you’ll not succeed. Failing is very relevant.

The hour-long community chat left me asking for more and I loved the way my Friday afternoon turned into an interesting enriching session. That’s what community chats are all about! While Hey Deedee’s women fleet glide in their 2-wheelers delivering last mile packages, I feel positive knowing that women entrepreneurs are making the right moves. Feeling recharged, I look forward to more meaningful and inspiring conversations around start-ups in the community.

Women entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can join SHE Starts Up!, our community to support women entrepreneurs via mentorship, funding, community chats, and conversations. Here’s where you find unconditional support for your startup dreams! 

About Susmita Barman:

I’m a SHEROES community member who believes in impacting young girls and women the right way for a better and progressive tomorrow. I’ve worked as a pre-school facilitator and developed K5 skill sets for an e-learning app. A happy-go-lucky mommy whose 15-year-old daughter is like a buddy. An uncompromising Bollywood fan and a die-hard foodie, writing is my superpower and content writing, my profession.

                                      SHEROES Communities for women are accessible via Sheroes.com and the SHEROES app
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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