SEWA, a trade union registered in 1972, is an organisation of poor, self-employed women workers. These are women who earn a living through their own labour or small businesses. Unlike workers in the organised sector, they do not obtain regular salaried employment with welfare benefits. SEWA’s main goals are to organise women workers for full employment and self reliance. SEWA organizes women to ensure that every family obtains full employment.
“This project, called Hariyali, is in continuation of our long-standing with IFC. Hariyali will provide green livelihoods to poor rural women members. SEWA’s self-employed women work in the informal sector, spend 35 per cent of their income on fuel, and walk long distances for firewood spending precious time unproductively. Often our members suffer from forced starvation. There was dire need for an alternative energy initiative,” said Reema Nanavaty, director of SEWA. SEWA’s membership of 1.3 million women comes from across nine states of India.
The project is expected to generate carbon credits by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The credits, which will be shared among SEWA members, will also help generate income for them.
IFC said on Saturday it will guarantee a loan from local banks to SEWA members by signing a memorandum of understanding with SEWA. The project is subject to regulatory approvals. This appears in line with IFC’s clean-growth strategy and could also help in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. IFC said it will also serve to demonstrate a self-sustaining business model that could also be introduced in other parts of Asia and in Africa.
“This is one of the world’s largest clean-energy projects aimed at the $5 trillion market of consumers, distributors, and entrepreneurs that forms the base of the economic pyramid,” said Lars Thunell, IFC executive vice president and chief executive officer, who is visiting India this week. “By expanding the availability of energy-efficient cook stoves and lanterns, we can help low-income households increase savings and cut expenses for firewood, kerosene and electricity.”