Over the last few months, Delhi, India’s capital, has been rocked by the brutal rape and murder of a student travelling on a bus. Unfortunately, most women in this city report that they routinely face harassment, particularly on public transport. Hearing about the Sakha Consulting Wings Pvt. Ltd, a unique social enterprise, launched to provide safe transport solutions for women by women in urban India, is a like a breath of fresh air. Sakha with its sister-organisation, the Azad Foundation, runs ‘Women on Wheels’.
This taxi firm has a number of goals; crucially it wants to give women from poor backgrounds an opportunity to earn at par with the men. Plus, by putting women in charge of cars, they also want to change attitudes and open up the boundaries for working women here. The women drivers engaged by Sakha are handpicked from the poor and marginalised sections of Delhi’s society, and their entire training and development is operated by the Azad Foundation, a not-for-profit.
However, life is not simple for these female cab drivers. Some of them had not even been in a car before, let alone driven one. They require several months of training, not only in how to drive and the rules of the road, but also in first-aid and self-defence before they can get behind the wheel. Driving skills are provided by Maruti Institute of Driving and Technology Research, along with Sakha having its own training school. The cabs work all night and go all over the state.
On average these women taxi drivers earn about $250 (£160) a month, a significant amount of money to these women and in some cases, the first time that some women have earned enough to support their families. This social enterprise is all about empowerment as many of these female drivers come from backgrounds where they are not important in the family. By earning a salary, they get respect in the family.
The company’s courage to start the taxi service began with just one cab and two drivers. Many thought that having a women’s cab service in Delhi was not going to work, but it did! In the last couple of months, since the death of the young student, this taxi firm has received calls and emails from people all over the world offering to help Sakha grow. Many of its passengers are affluent, independent women who need to travel alone a lot or are new to town, while others are passing through. Whatever the reason, Sakha helps them to get about safely!
Sangeeta Haindl: I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics – Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry. I believe in the power of serendipity for business. Do e-mail me if you would like to know more and what this means. I also am a Twitter lover and believe that social media lets people into our lives. I would also describe myself as a Spiritual Entrepreneur, Conscious Explorer and Futurist. I enjoy helping others, paying it forward and being a mum.
Published under INDIACSR-3BL Media Partnership.
Photo Credit: Azad Foundation