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Barefoot “Solar Mamas” switch on rural communities… And that’s not just about light!

Enriche provides an opportunity for women to fulfill their aspiration and build thriving, resilient and sustainable rural communities.

Photo of Lucie Argelies

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Feedback from the rural women led to a change in the ENGAGE strategy related to the time period and duration for which the workshops could be held in the villages. We have found that workshop dissemination would have to be customized even within an area of a few kilometers. The feedback session with the community leaders and ground partners from various villages helped us to identify key problems which need to be prioritized in the respective communities.

Explain your project idea in two sentences.

Enriche provides rural women from the most remote areas the opportunity to gain confidence, practical knowledge and skills that are relevant to their aspirations and gain control over their own lives.

What is your organization name? Explain your organization in one sentence.

The Barefoot College build more sustainable, self-sufficient and resilient rural communities.

Is this project idea new for you or your organization? If no, how much have you already executed on?

The Enriche initiative was born less than two years ago. The program has evolved with time and we are at different phase of execution on Enriche 4 building blocks: +1 year delivery for ENHANCE and ENABLE (Awareness & Livelihood), design phase of ENGAGE (Community Outreach), & discovery for EMPOWER.

What is the problem you aim to solve with this idea? How would you define this problem as urgent and a priority in your target community?

We are enabling women from rural remote communities to find solutions to their problems! We do not know of anything more urgent than that. Women are the most efficient yet underserved and underestimated agents of sustainable change! Closing gender gaps would add $28 trillion to annual GDP in 2025.

What is the timeline for your project idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

ENHANCE- Development of standardized toolkit and resource box for facilitators that can be utilized in regional training centers. 6 months to 1.5 years. ENABLE- Develop robust, self sustainable social enterprise model, value chains and digitized training curriculum. Time frame: 1 to 2 years. ENGAGE- Develop Peer to Peer Facilitator tool kits, community engagement partnerships, implementation strategies and funding models. 1 to 2 years. EMPOWER: Learning from the ground & partners. 2-3 years

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of responsibility).

The Enriche team works collectively in the formulating the strategy, designing and implementing of the program. The program is unfolding along different timelines in our training centers, thereby allowing us to apply the learnings from one place to another (see team presentation attached).

What do you need the most support with in this project idea?

  • Program/Product/Service Design

What is your primary goal over the next 6 weeks of Refinement?

  • Iterate or improve on my product/service

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) results for this project?

We are designing a comprehensive M&E program that would be implemented at feasible points during the period of one to three years (Baseline before implementation, Monitoring +6 months, Evaluation +2-3 years). This will be layered up on Barefoot College digital M&E platform. Individual questionnaires would be used to assess both qualitative and quantitative impact. Efforts would be put to bring out stories of both individual and community led empowerment.

How has your project proposal changed due to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase?

Created a new framework based on the user Journey: 4 building blocks: ENHANCE, ENABLE, ENGAGE, EMPOWER. Feedback from the rural women led to a change in the ENGAGE strategy related to the time period and duration for which the workshops could be held in the villages. We have found that workshop dissemination would have to be customized even within an area of a few kilometers.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

The IDEO Challenge allowed us to rethink our program in term of four building blocks: ENHANCE, ENABLE, ENGAGE and EMPOWER. These provide an overall path to a rural women’s empowerment journey with support from established partner NGOs on the ground.

We believe every woman should be strong, safe, self-reliant, healthy, heard, respected, resilient, courageous and equal. No exceptions!

The Enriche program invests in women to help them reach their full potential, fulfill their aspirations and transform their communities via economic, social and environmental impact.

Explain your idea

Enriche aims to provide rural women with the opportunity to gain confidence, practical knowledge and skills that are relevant to their life and priorities. We believe that addressing the underlying structural and social barriers to women empowerment can only be achieved using a holistic participatory approach. Program evolution via feedback from rural women has led to creation of 4 building blocks: ENHANCE, ENABLE, ENGAGE and EMPOWER, along with Social Enterprises. Complementing our solar training program, ENHANCE is an awareness, confidence and skills building journey, offering participants an opportunity to (un)learn, reflect and envision their empowerment journey through group participatory workshops, across 7 key areas of knowledge: Women’s Health, Financial Inclusion, Human, Legal and Civil Rights, Micro-enterprise, Self-Awareness, Aspiration & Agency, Digital Literacy and Environmental Stewardship. ENABLE trains the solar trainees in selected livelihood skills relevant to local resources and market, and offers transfer of assets as ‘in-kind’ seed capital. We ENGAGE with our solar electrified and other rural communities via ground partners (NGOs and CBOs) to address social norms and community challenges in their areas. Previously trained solar engineers are encouraged to share their skills and knowledge in their communities, and seek out the knowledge and tools needed to achieve their aspirations, thereby becoming agents of sustainable change in their own communities. EMPOWER will further support women in becoming self-reliant and resilient entrepreneurs via access to Financial Services, and Mentoring & Market Linkages. Enriche brings to surface the needs and aspirations of the rural women and creates ENHANCE and ENGAGE workshop content customized to support them in addressing their challenges. A structured workshop schedule forms the basis of an implementation approach comprising of interactive discussions, activities and peer to peer learning. The workshops are designed to ensure there is no lecture and no teacher. Discussions are based on factual information provided by the facilitator and participants are given the opportunity to start a critical thought process by sharing their own thoughts, beliefs and stories. Role plays, images and videos are utilized to address topics such as gender equality, savings, banking, etc. An integral part of the program relates to demystification of knowledge such that it is readily translated into practical skills, such as making Oral Rehydration Solutions, reusable sanitary napkins, efficient stoves, composting, etc. We believe that addressing the community aspirations in such an overarching manner, directly through the community members is key to long lasting impact.

Who Benefits?

Women from the world’s most remote and marginalised communities are our direct beneficiaries. Women are the most powerful yet under-served agents of sustainable change. We have been a privileged witness to rural women’s aspirations and relentless effort to nurture and strengthen their communities, while preserving traditional wisdom, values and knowledge. This benefit isn’t limited to rural women: Indigenous people live in symbiosis with 80% of the planet natural environment. Their dependence on their immediate environment for survival and subsistence makes these communities vulnerable to depletion of natural resources and Climate Change effects, which in turn increase economic poverty, migration and conflicts. Providing these communities the opportunity to become self-reliant is the cornerstone to create a socially just, environmentally sustainable and harmonious world. The only way to create a Prosperous and Peaceful Planet. We are yet to find someone who wouldn’t benefit!

How is your idea unique?

Being a rural community ourselves, we understand there is NO silver bullet solution to create sustainable change at the grassroots level: only holistic, participatory and community led change can create lasting impact. The Enriche program,tailored to the aspirations of rural communities, is based on the interconnected needs of each woman it serves. Capacity building of mature local women who are fully vested in the community; continual ground support from partner ngos working for years in those areas; and eventual community inclusion and mobilization create a robust program towards sustainable change. Furthermore, partner ngos and local women having brought light to the villages are seen as ‘change-makers’ and therefore more accepted when working towards holistic development.Additionally, Enriche is unique as it is one of the only curriculum specifically designed for the non and semi-literate audience, using visual, audio, video and digital content developed in local languages.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

Barefoot College is a not for profit, grassroots, Social Enterprise, that has been providing basic services and solutions to the challenges facing rural poor communities for more than 40 years, with the objective of making them self-sufficient and sustainable, valuing and respecting the knowledge and wisdom they already possess. The College was founded in India in 1972 by Sanjit “Bunker” Roy, following the lifestyle and work style of Mahatma Gandhi. Is has today grown into an exceptional example of a decentralized management philosophy and capacity building from within, to deliver what has become known widely around the world, as the Barefoot Approach to community development. These ‘Barefoot solutions’ can be broadly categorised into the delivery of Solar Electrification, Clean Water, Education and Livelihood Development. For 44 years, the college has been committed to support Women as change agents, entrepreneurs and environmental stewards. Believing that placing women at the heart of a development process which builds confidence and competence in entire communities through a partnership model is the most reliable and effective way to bring about large-scale shifts in values and sustainable quality of life enhancement. Our Solar Engineering flagship program was implemented in more than 80 countries in collaboration with local NGOs and CBOs. We are now scaling up rapidly through South-South Cooperation and People-Public-Private partnerships. The Enriche Team comprises of highly educated professionals from all corners of the world working side-by-side with the semi literate and non formally educated locals, ensuring that rural wisdom and latest innovations is at the heart of our solution. Our passion for unlearning and relearning and dedication to serve is our most valued common denominator. The way to get to know us better is to come and visit! But beware, you might decide to join our community! Most of us are based in Rajasthan, India and in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The rest of the team are globe trotters traveling to meet our rural communities and partners, and pollinating ideas and solutions. We collaborate with local ground partners, NGOs and CBOs, who all work closely with rural communities. We train them on the approach and provide them all resources, and they guide us to adapt our curriculum and programs to the regional specificities and ensure quality implementation of the program and M&E.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
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Team (3)

Lucie's profile
Anu's profile
Anu Jain

Role added on team:

"Abandoned the corporate world…. To savor community life! Playgrounds: India, US and all places in between. Responsibilities: Establish a team along with a network of partner organizations. Monitor impact and strategize to continually improve and expand the program’s role in supporting changemakers. Special talents: Designing workshops, story telling, nurturing and taking care of the whole team! Something to share:"

Monalisa's profile
Monalisa Padhee

Role added on team:

"Lab rat turned into a community health professional. Playgrounds: Rural India and beyond. Themes I care about: Women empowerment through health. Responsibilities: Enriche health workshops facilitation, region specific curriculum design, guidelines for replication, procurement of resource material for outreach and documentation. Special talents: Writing articles and research papers, dancing and inventing healthy tasty recipes. Something to share:"


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Photo of Lucia Dawn

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