Ubuntu at Work: Skill-building and Self-help Community Organization

Introduction

Ubuntu at Work is a social enterprise that helps women micro entrepreneurs around the world.  Many of the women micro entrepreneurs that they collaborate with have no craft skills or other marketable skills before they join the Ubuntu at Work community.  With the assistance of field staff and volunteers around the world, the Ubuntu team works with women to gain new capabilities, collaboratively develop green products and assist in marketing these products around the world.  These products include organic fiber bags, organic produce, embroidered fabric items and screen printed items.

A unique aspect of Ubuntu at Work is that a significant portion of their products are sold through high volume orders through retailers.  They are known for producing bags for duty-free shops at several Indian aiports including the Bengaluru airport.

 

Links

About Ubuntu at Work:  http://ubuntuatwork.org/about.php

Ubuntu At Work’s Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/ubuntuatwork

 

Challenges

1.  Stronger platform for community engagement:  Ubuntu at Work is constantly striving to connect to more volunteers and interested members of the community.  They want blog posts to spark conversations.  To facilitate engagement, they have online volunteering activities that can be done via computer.  They are also looking to increase college student group engagement with the organization and develop systems to connect women micro entrepreneurs with mentors in a manner that is easy for all users.

Ubuntu At Work would like an app for their organization centered around community building.  At this time, the Ubuntu website is set up to enable interested parties to sign up and participate in “point-earning” tasks.  The final app does not have to use the point system to spark development.  However, it will ultimately facilitate the following objectives and allow for more people to engage with Ubuntu at Work and its network of women micro entrepreneurs.

Community Building Challenges:

  • Engage more people in online volunteering tasks

  • Encourage people to participate in blog post driven dialogues

  • Attract student groups to develop volunteer projects with Ubuntu at Work

  • Develop a platform for engage returned volunteers (e.g. Peace Corps, Americorps, Indicorps, WorldTeach) to develop long-term online-based mentoring relationships with women micro entrepreneurs.

Links:

Current Online Volunteering Activities:  http://ubuntuatwork.org/volunteer_jobs.php

Ubuntu At Work Blog:  http://ubuntuatwork.org/blog.php

Ubuntu At Work Volunteering and Points System:  http://ubuntuatwork.org/volunteer.php

 

2.  Design e-store interface:  Although the majority of Ubuntu at Work’s orders are large-volume wholesale orders, Ubuntu is looking to increase sales in two manners:

  • Increase online retail sales during the holiday season

  • Find new ways of engaging with corporate customers

Although there is already an online retail platform, can you think of a new design scheme to meet the above goals? How can the Ubuntu at Work women best showcase their work online?

Advertisements

Cottage Industries in India

cottage_industry

The term “cottage industry” is used when products are manufactured on a small scale. India is well known for its large number of traditional cottage industries. But with the advent of industrialization, cottage industries witnessed a sharp decline. Cotton weaving, carpet making, leather industry, etching, basket making, texile making, pottery, etc are some examples of cottage industry products.

A cottage industry is often characterized by its enormous potential for employment generation and the person getting employed is basically regarded as a self-employed one. It has been empirically found out that cottage industry has given economic independence to the women in the developing as well as developed countries. The income of the manufacturers is harmed by middlemen who offer low prices to them but take heavy chunks of money from the buyers. These workers have given their whole life to stitching and knitting. The skill that they possess is just unmatchable. But still they are at the same place where they had started years ago.

Well-known organizations like Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is working towards the development and endorsement of cottage industries in India. Other premier organizations are Central Silk Board, Coir Board, All India Handloom Board and All India Handicrafts Board, and organizations like Forest Corporations and National Small Industries Corporation are also playing an active role in the meaningful expansion of cottage industries in India.

What can we do to help Cottage Industries, avoid middlemen from taking away large chunks of profits, and help streamline resources and funds to these unmatchable skilled labor all over our country?

Etsy for India

Can we develop a common platform where a seller of retail cottage industry goods (for example, decorative pots, pretty etchings, hand woven clothes and carpets, etc) is able to directly sell his or her product to consumers without any middlemen? The seller can make much higher profits. Instead of building the brand name of a company, the sellers would brand themselves through the system. Based upon the quality and creativity of their product they would receive reviews from customers and get higher visibility.

The biggest challenge here is that these artists don’t have access to internet. So there needs to be a good amount of groundwork to get their products online and sellable. There should be an organization that aggregates goods from cottage industry artists and directly supplies them to the consumers, making the artists visible on the internet, and taking a small cut for process costs.

Can we possibly link the cottage industries to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR of Medium and Large Scale Industries ? One idea is to supply hand made paper and cloth bags to big grocery stores like Reliance Fresh in India, and including this as part of Reliance’s CSR to directly help the individual cottage entrepreneurs.

Food Security Bill

food-security
India recently passed a very important piece of legislation, the Food Security Bill. This is an ambitious piece of legislation. It has dramatic costs, and equally dramatic outcomes if successfully implemented.

The task is to read the text of the food security bill and other relevant documents, and produce a summary sheet of the principal provisions, costs and putative benefits of this bill.

Resources

PRS Legislative Research:
http://www.prsindia.org/
@PRSLegislative on Twitter

Text of the bill
http://www.prsindia.org/uploads/media/Food%20Security/Food%20Security%20Bill,%202013.pdf

Private Secure Website for Victims of Sexual Assault

rage-rape
Rape is one of India’s most common crimes against its women, and as the UN human right’s chief terms it a “national problem”. It is disheartening to see a new rape case reported every 20-25 minutes and Rape in India warranting its own wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_in_India
A lot of times, the rape victim does not speak out because of social stigma. An overwhelming proportion of rape survivors know the attacker personally, as someone from their surroundings, family or daily life. Marital rape that occurs when spouses are living together can only receive civilian remedies. Often, the victim is blamed for the rape.

Challenge

We would love for the hackathon attendees to think about these problems and devise solutions. Shailesh Tainwala, a graduate student at Stanford University, has pitched the following idea (with non-profit intentions), and is looking for team members to help build this website.
He would like to design a very private/secure website for victims of sexual assault and abuse. As mentioned above, in India, a lot of women can never speak about sexual abuse and assault because of social stigma. Also, there is a big barrier to taking the complaint to the police. Having such a website will
* Give us a real picture of number of abuse cases
* Map these reports to geographical location, giving insights into ‘danger zones’
* Allow victims to share stories without any chance of compromising identity
* Create a community that may, someday, lead bigger changes