Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2015
    This description of Shaikh Rashid's work was prepared when Shaikh Rashid was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2015.
    The estimated female population in rural Bangladesh is estimated to be 55 million, out of which only 5.9 million are engaged in livelihood activities (BBS, Labor Force Survey 2002). It is further estimated that 75% of the population lives in rural areas, often excluded from formal market distribution systems. Building on a traditional model, with his organization JITA Bangladesh, Saif has developed a systematic approach of “door-to-door distribution network” engaging underprivileged women as “Sales Entrepreneurs” across Bangladesh. In a society where women are often excluded from economic activities, and where rural areas are dominated with male oriented activities like farming, Saif’s model has been effective in providing livelihood opportunities for the BOP-female population in rural Bangladesh. According to Saif, exclusion of women from mainstream distribution network often deprives them of access to essential products and services. It is understood that with a conservative culture, women are often inclined to purchase products such as sanitary napkins, birth control products etc, from other women. Saif has partnered with various partners like Uniliver, and developed local distribution hubs connecting 6,700 individual women entrepreneurs, providing essential market based products to 7 million consumers. In his distribution model, Saif emphasised on products that impacts healthy living, agriculture, livelihood, and improved lifestyle. In addition, he also provides training to the women entrepreneurs, and carries out periodic workshops that educate women in areas such as health. Moving forward, Saif is also trying to engage underprivileged men and women that are excluded from economic opportunities, either due to certain disabilities, and or lack of resources. Using the same distribution network, he plans to give access to their products and services to be sold in mainstream markets.
    The New Idea
    The Problem
    The Strategy
    The Person

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