73% of women between the ages of 15-59 in Rajasthan, India are financially dependent on their husbands, feeling unable to leave their homes and speak to others due to traditional gender roles. Guddi is one of them. She spends the majority of her days inside her home, feeling unable to venture outside and speak to others.
“You need money for everything, for daily household needs, for children’s clothing.”
Guddi’s biggest problem is debt, since she lacks independent spending power, so is forced to take loans to cover her purchases.
As soon as Guddi heard about Frontier Markets’ Saral Jeevan Sakhis (SJS) program through her village’s women’s self-help group, she was hooked. Saral Jeevan Sakhis, or “Easy Life Friends,” are rural bottom of the pyramid women who were hand selected to be saleswomen for Frontier Markets, leveraging their community ties to sell solar products to other rural villagers.
“I wanted to become a SJS so I can join this and do something. What will I do just by sitting at home?”
There are over 1000 women like Guddi who have been trained in solar value chain, marketing, communication, and sales, to provide them with the necessary skills to earn a stable income. They have sold a combined total of 40,000 products, and are a valuable part of Frontier Markets’ unique distribution model.
As Ajaita Shah, the CEO of Frontier Markets, puts it best: “Women are not an impact story; women are actually smart business.”
As a SJS, Guddi now is a saleswoman for Frontier Markets, educating her neighbors and friends about the benefits of using Frontier Markets’ solar products.
“I don’t hesitate in selling because my products are so good that I can tell people a thousand times, I can tell people a thousand different ways the product can be used,” Guddi confidently shares.
One of the most drastic differences in Guddi’s life has been her transformation from a housewife who felt unable to leave her home, to the strong and independent saleswoman she is today.
“There are so many changes in my life. I no longer fear going anywhere.”
Due to her work as an SJS, Guddi got the opportunity to meet the Chief Minister, a turning point in her life.
“After meeting the chief minister I realized that I was a housewife who never went outside my own home. I didn’t know anyone, but when I met with her and talked to her, then my life has changed a lot. I have done works like setting up a shop in the market, now I have learned this work, I am ready to do any work. Now, I am touching the sky.”
Impact on Guddi
• Like most SJS, Guddi earns around ~$35 per month
• Guddi has made a sustainable investment in solar, no longer worrying about electricity bills
• Guddi saves Rs.4000 ($61) per year from switching from kerosene oil to solar
“Now, I am free from debt because I am standing on my legs. So instead of taking money from people, I will do my work, sell products, and earn money.”
• Guddi no longer has to ask anyone for money when she spends on her children’s school fees, health, clothing and household necessities
• Guddi can now speak to anyone in the village
• Guddi no longer fears her kerosene burning her children or hurting their eyes
Guddi’s family with Solar light
“My confidence has increased very much, and my respect has increased in society. My family doesn’t stop me anymore and initially they used to stop me. Why? Because everyone in society knows what im doing, because of this I can talk to anyone.”