Sunita Bagal

Ashoka Fellow
India,
Fellow Since 2003
Vyavsayi Mahila Sangathana

Citation

This profile was prepared when Sunita Bagal was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Sunita is the first person in India working to help break the cycle of migration, unemployment, and poverty that traps millions of female vendors who sell perishable goods and small handicrafts outside temples, fairs, and tourist attractions. Illiterate and working alone, these vendors face exploitation at the hands of middlemen, moneylenders, male shop owners, and the civic authorities, allowing them to earn barely enough to survive.
Sunita is organizing these women by introducing to them the self-help groups found among other informal sector trades. While group savings and collective buying increase these women's financial independence and bargaining power, Sunita is also training them to formalize their enterprises by collectively bidding for lucrative shop spaces within temple compounds thereby not only improving their business prospects but also eliminating the threat of eviction and bribery that results from squatting on roadsides to conduct their trade. By turning these women's entrepreneurial skills into financially viable enterprises near their homes, Sunita is also reducing the need for these vendors to engage in dangerous and disruptive seasonal labor migration.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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