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India's Delivery Girls on the road to break gender stereotypes

Even Cargo trains and employs girls from low income communities in professions that are male dominated in the society.

Photo of Ekta Gupta
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

India’s female labour force participation rate is steadily dropping despite increasing educational attainment for young women across the country. Also, in India women comprise the majority of informal economy, wherein the workers are left vulnerable to exploitation, unfair wages, and little social protection. Lastly, public spaces in India are becoming increasingly unsafe for women, evidence of which is the stark increase in the number of incidents of violence against women across the country.

Even Cargo is solving all of these above-mentioned problems by training and employing females coming from economically disadvantaged communities in professions that are traditionally inaccessible to them. The vision is to promote women’s participation in employment, inculcate the value for women’s work and build secure work environments in the male dominated set up of India. The first profession that we have started with is that of a female delivery associate in the e-commerce industry. Thus, Even Cargo identifies and trains young women to be delivery associates. These women are employed with Even Cargo for e-commerce companies like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, etc. These women are mobilized through various NGOs and community based organisations, after which they receive the necessary trainings which include :

• 2 Wheeler Riding Training
• Self Defence Training
• Logistics Specific Training
• Employability Skills Training

With the desire of these women to challenge gender norms of the society, Even Cargo has been able to become India’s first women only e-commerce logistics company. Currently operational in Delhi, we wish to scale our operations to other cities of India very soon.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our main beneficiary are girls & women in India, between the age of 18-40 yrs., who are functionally literate are living in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities of India and have an annual household income of less than $1500. Majority of these girls are either unemployed or employed in the informal sector.

Through Even Cargo, these females get direct employment, through which they become financially independent. In many cases, these girls are providing financial support to their families as well, since the girls are often the only breadwinners of the family. Moreover, the females also experience a transformation in their personalities. From being a group of shy and uncertain young girls, these females have gradually grown into a group of bold and confident women. By working as a delivery associate, these females have also achieved financial and digital inclusion, by getting their monthly salaries directly in their bank accounts and by working with tech driven companies such as Amazon respective

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

In order to increase the employment rate of females in the country, there are a number of organisations and institutes, which are training and skilling girls in traditional roles such as sewing, knitting, etc. With the inception of Even Cargo, we are challenging the gender norms by providing employment opportunities to girls in sectors that have been traditionally male dominated. By providing the females with a field job (delivery girl), we are breaking the societal stereotypes about what a women can and cannot do. And this change is often observed through the surprised faces of the customers who open their doors to find a girl delivering their parcel.
Also, Even Cargo is an all women’s organisation with the management staff comprising of only women. Thus, females working as Delivery Associate feel much safer to work with us than any other organisation. Lastly, we do not charge any premium for delivery by females and rather, compete at market price, making the idea more sustainable.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered social enterprise.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

We are a group of individuals who are inclusive and love diversity, be it diversity of caste, class, religion or gender. However, the indiscriminations in our societies have always bothered us. Of all, gender based discrimination concerned us the most, because we observed that unlike the crimes of the nature of killing and robbery, gender violence doesn’t surface at all, not even enough for us to realise and observe until it gets manifested in crimes like molestation and rape.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace: There has been a stark increase in the incidents of violence against women across the country, in forms of rape, domestic violence, etc. When a girl gets employed with Even Cargo and starts contributing to her household budget, she becomes financially independent and also one of the key decision-makers in the family and can avoid domestic conflicts. Also, bringing more women in the workforce can lead to less conflicts and more cooperation at workstations.

Prosperity: According to McKinsey, by adding more women workers to the formal workforce, India can add $2.9 Trillion to its GDP. Thus, Even Cargo, by economically empowering a woman is also contributing to the national economy. Moreover, we are also working toward the operational financial inclusion of females by helping them have active bank accounts.

Planet: Even Cargo is impacting the environment by making the associates deliver on electric scooters. E- scooters are more environment friendly than a fuel scooter.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

In order to mobilize girls for this job role, we work with a lot of NGOs and community based organisations. Apart from NGOs, we are also working with the government to introduce this opportunity to girls from government schools who drop out before completing their education. We are also looking to partner with the other branches of the government under the various schemes that they have regarding the skilling and employment of youth, particularly girls. Moreover, the government can help us launch a bigger project with the help of which we can reach out to more girls. Lastly, we are looking to partner with some big organisations, which can provide us the funds to scale our operations to other cities.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

According to a report by McKinsey, there are 68 million women in India that can be added to the workforce by 2025. Apart from that the women coming from these communities also have a strong network within the community. This is beneficial for us, because if we employ one girl, 10 other girls can join Even Cargo through that one girls reference.

Geographic Focus

With this project we aim to reach the low income communities based in Tier 1 and 2 cities of India.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Even Cargo would require 24 months to employ 1000 females in this job role.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

7 comments

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Photo of One World In A Box
Team

Hi Ekta,

This is a really nice initiative! I think it would be even great for the Corporate Social Responsibility of "e-commerce companies like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra". You could make them aware of the fact that women deliver the parcels and in that way promote your project but make it also more known/established in the larger community. I was just wondering one thing: how are these women protected (if they are already from a disadvantaged community, certain caste etc.)? Do you take measures like: they deliver only in the day? Certain hours? Where they deliver? Certain areas are unsafe etc.?

In any case, good luck!

Best,
M. Ahmadi

Photo of Ekta Gupta
Team

Hello M. Ahmadi,

Thank you for the kind words! You are absolutely right, and we are actually in talks with the CSR of these e-commerce companies, however nothing substantial has come out of it yet.

Regarding your second question, yes we do take a number of safety measures in order to ensure the safety and security of our delivery girl. These measures include, delivering only during specific timings of the day (8am - 5pm), and also delivering only on safe routes identifies by us. Unsafe routes are blacklisted. Also there is a maximum weight limit for these girls regarding the weight of the packets. And most importantly, these girls are employed in the workstations closest to their homes so that they don't spend much time in travelling. Apart from that, they are also given self defence training in collaboration with the Delhi Police. Hope this answers your question

Kind regards,
Ekta

Photo of One World In A Box
Team

Dear Ekta,

Sounds good! I'm glad to hear you have taken so many safety measurements. I have a small suggestion and perhaps you already have done it, maybe it's an idea to make an official company policy: what to do in cases of certain scenarios and when actual abuse happens (who to report to: internally and externally; who can the women talk to). Just out of curiosity: what is the percentage of the blacklisted routes?

All the best!
M. Ahmadi

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