In 1995 India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) organized women waste pickers in Ahmedabad into a cooperative to improve their working conditions and livelihoods. When the waste recycling industry collapsed eight years later, eroding waste pickers’ already vulnerable income, the cooperative began to manufacture stationery products from recycled waste. Over time, this informal arrangement evolved into Gitanjali—a women-owned and -run social enterprise. With support from key partners, Gitanjali has generated social value, providing its members with safe and dignified work while increasing their earnings. While Gitanjali faces challenges in becoming a fully self-sufficient social enterprise, its experience offers insights for other initiatives seeking to provide opportunities for women to transition from informal to formal work.
Please check back later this month to view the full case study, which draws on interviews with key informants in SEWA, Gitanjali, WEConnect International, and Accenture; on questionnaire responses from eight Gitanjali members; and on enterprise business records provided by Gitanjali.