Country of Operation
- Hindustan UnileverFor-profit
SummaryLaunched in 2001, Project Shakti, aims to empower underprivileged rural women by training them in health and hygiene and allowing them to undertake income-generation activities.
Key program components
The women, known as Vanis (communicators), sell soap, shampoo and other personal care products through social forums such as schools and village gatherings. There are currently over 45,000 Shakti entrepreneurs in more than 135,000 villages across 15 Indian states. Unilever provides training in sales practices, commercial knowledge and bookkeeping to help them become micro-entrepreneurs. Project Shakti also consists of public awareness programs focusing on health and hygiene, as well as an i-Shakti initiative that allows villagers to access information through kiosks. By the end of 2007, more than 45,000 Shakti entrepreneurs covered 3 million homes in 100,000 villages in 15 Indian states. Unilever aims to increase the number of Shakti entrepreneurs that they recruit, train and employ from 45,000 in 2010 to 75,000 in 2015. Hindustan Lever has built alliances with telecom & banking companies to increase the income of the Shakti family with the sale of telecom prepaid currency, sim activations and acting as a banking correspondent. Shakti is now being adapted in other Unilever markets such as Sri Lanka, Viet Nam and Bangladesh, and is also being considered for Latin American and African markets. At the end of 2007, Sri Lanka had over 3,500 entrepreneurs covering 275,000 households in 4,000 villages, and 4,250 entrepreneurs in Bangladesh were covering 400,000 households in 8,000 villages.