SASYAH// READ GLOBAL
READ Global is a multinational non-profit establishing sustainable enterprises to provide income opportunities for rural women in Asia. In my time working with the organization, I facilitated the launch of skills training and handicraft enterprise initiatives to create flexible employment opportunities for artisans in remote parts of northern India. The focus was on developing workplaces that met the unique cultural needs of marginalized community members, providing an environment that made them feel safe, productive and proud.
The enterprise model has been implemented in 4 rural communities since, generating income opportunities for local women all over India. Simultaneously, I developed the umbrella brand 'Sasyah' under which the artisanal products are sold, and led brand positioning experiments to secure commercial orders.
Project Manager, Lead Strategist, Design Researcher
The first phase of establishing an enterprise involved in-depth qualitative research to understand the needs, pain points and skillsets of the community members that would be enterprise employees. This was done through immersive sessions, interviews, surveys and observational inquiry.
The insights were translated to system maps and 'before state' journey maps that helped me empathize with their circumstances and aspirations. In addition, building these frameworks helped me clearly communicate opportunities to colleagues and corporate sponsors, which was crucial to the success of the project.
ideation + co-creation
With a solid foundation of user needs, I was able to proceed to the next phase which involved working with key stakeholders such as donors, users, local government and senior management to identify multiple ways in which the existing pool of skills could be harnessed and commercialized. This list included various craft skills such as basketry, furniture making, handloom weaving, and agricultural skills such as spice manufacturing and food preservation. The ideas were narrowed down based on the community members' interest, potential for profitability and sustainability.
Subsequently, prototypes and system maps were developed in order to rethink and develop the physical environment in which the artisans would be working, This included technological changes, such as incorporating machinery that would optimize the workflow, and setting up digital payment portals that would change the way users managed payments.
DEsign + development
Once the focus of the enterprise was determined, I innovated operational processes that would reduce waste and streamline the supply chain for production. This stage also included training sessions for rural women, developing leadership and organizational ability among members.
Once the workplace and supply chain were established, I led brand positioning efforts such as product showcases, exhibitions and leveraging e-commerce platforms, which directly impacted sales for the micro-enterprises. A product catalogue was built in order to secure commercial orders from lifestyle product retailers.