Scotmid Co-operative has helped more than 40 young women in India develop new skills and secure regular income through a partnership with co-ops across the UK.
The retailer teamed up with a group of co-operative retailers to collectively raise more than £100,00 to support the crisis response when the Delta variant hit India.
It initially provided essential basic supplies, health kits and education, but the support then evolved to help young female workers grow a sustainable future out of the pandemic.
The aid helped with the creation of a two-year incubator programme to help them develop skills in journalism, graphic design, photography, new media, research methodology and report writing.
During the initial crisis period, £70,000 of the donation was used to distribute 4,000 household health kits, including masks, soap and immune boosters, across eight states of India. It also provided lifesaving information about the symptoms and spread of Covid to families in rural and low-income urban areas.
The remaining £30,000 is now being used to deliver the two-year programme.
Co-operatives UK worked with the Co-operative College and Co-op News to co-ordinate the appeal, partnering with SEWA in India which is delivering the programme.
SEWA Cooperative Federation Chairperson, Mirai Chatterjee, said: “Women in India mainly work informally meaning their earnings can be unreliable and as soon as the crisis hit many lost their income overnight. Thanks to the vital support provided by our co-operative friends in the UK, we’re helping them to form two grassroots co-operatives to create a sustainable livelihood for themselves.
“As well as learning technical skills in communications and research, around forty young women will develop leadership and business management skills, and we’re developing market links to help them secure regular work and provide income security.”