Vinothini is Swasth India’s youngest employee. To a first time observer, her shy and reserved nature can be misleading, and hide her strong work ethic and perseverance. She shares her experiences at Swasth and how she is working towards her new-found interest in computers through a college degree (BCA).
Afsana Ansari had studied upto Grade X, and until recently, was a housewife taking care of her husband and children in a low-income community in Mumbai. She shares her journey, internal and external, after joining Swasth India as a Community Health Worker.
Until 2011, Varsha worked as a nurse at a nearby hospital. She shares the story of how her life changed after joining Swasth India, and how she has been gradually upgrading her skill sets.
Mumbai resident Reshma studied upto class XII and until 2011, was unemployed and at home. She shares the story of how her life changed after joining Swasth India as a Clinic Co-ordinator, and her aspirations for future.
My journey in Swasth has been very different from my past experience. When I joined Swasth India, I was not familiar with administrative work. I learnt a lot of things in Swasth from as simple things as organising your work materials to lot more. In Swasth I have gained knowledge of many things like Anaemia, Worms, and many other medical problems faced by children these days. There is a field experiences I would like to share. During a school camp for secondary student, Swasth India’s team doctor came across a child studying in 5th std. who was suffering from a heart valve disease but was unaware of it. When we discovered this, we immediately contacted his parents and explained them the situation and its possible consequences. We suggested that they take the child to KEM/Wadia Hospital for further treatment. Since the family had just migrated to Mumbai, they had no idea of how to proceed. We provided them with information regarding Rajiv Gandhi Jivan Dayi Yojna under which they would be given financial help to tackle this situation. It was the first time I have seen such a situation so closely. But this experience has given me confidence to help and counsel people on sensitive issues. Every time we go for a school camp we get to learn something new. Be it a meeting with School staff or the parents, its always different. Sometimes they are co operative and some times they won’t listen. But at the end, its always a wonderful experience since teachers as well as parents appreciate the work we are doing. when This makes us feel that the community is actually benefiting from the effort we are putting in as Swasth Pariwaar. Before Swasth I have worked with other organisations but I feel this is the only place where the staff is provided with trainings relevant to their work and perform it with full enthusiasm. And above all I have realized that every situation is important to learn from. I am really very thankful to Swasth India to give me an opportunity to be part of it and motivate me with an ‘Employee of the Month Award’.
I am very proud to say that I am also a part of Swasth Pariwaar. Being part of Swasth India is a completely new experience for me since being a student of Commerce I never thought I will be trained to do medical, computer related and managing things too. I soon realized that its a completely new and great experience for me. Initially I had no idea about how to work on a computer but Garima Ma’am and Manasi Ma’am taught me how to use it and helped me to improve my typing speed. I am very happy to say that now my typing speed is 26 WPM Right now I am in School Health program. In this project I have learned many things like how to make an excel in very simple and interesting way and how to reduce Data entry errors. I have been provided with a very good training that has helped me improve my communication skills and increased my confidence and sincerity. In School Camp I have learned how to manage students. My first encounter with school camps was at Navjeevan School where I realized that it was such a big school and very difficult to handle such students. But now I have learned how to manage a camp and students so well that I can now manage a camp on my own. This was because of motivation by Dr. Manasi. I have also learnt a lot about IT system in Swasth India. This has motivated me to take admission in BCA (Bachelors in Computer Application). Not just that, but even Swasth India’s IT manager Mr. Nikhilesh Ghushe, has taught me a lot because of which I have been able to score really good marks in my exam. All of it is possible because this organisation really takes good care of its people and staff. Our managers continuously motivates us to work hard and work better in a very encouraging and sincere way. I am very proud to be a part of Swasth India.
As a child growing up in Dubai, I was far removed from the average Mumbaikar’s day. The annual 3 month summer vacation in Bombay did nothing to wear off this layer of insulation. The image of someone from the ‘low income segment’ was reduced to the ‘kaam waali bai’ or troops of children with gold matted hair selling flowers at the traffic signal. Walking through the Goregaon slum gullies allows plenty opportunity to question this image. With barely space to walk, houses are clumped together sharing a common source of water and toilets. House doors are left open and a friendly peek inside always nudges the residents into conversation. I find that they are part suspicious (“How do you benefit from helping us?)”, part jaded (“How will what you do help me in any way?”). For those trying to solve problems of global/local poverty, these are often the biggest barriers to entry. Case in point – While adopting schools for free health check ups, we have had instances of outright rejection because the management fails to see the value of such camps. The value of such camps becomes glaringly apparent if you look at a few numbers – ~50% secondary school children suffer from mild to moderate iron deficiency anaemia and ~40% students go untreated for vision refractive errors. What this means is that a significant chunk of children in India are suffering from easily detectable and preventable diseases. The child might be enrolled in school by a doting parent, might be taught by an encouraging teacher – but it is of little use when he cannot read what is written on the blackboard or he cannot keep up with his classmates on account of his low haemoglobin levels. Why do such primary level health issues continue to exist? NGOs, public-private-partnership run organizations, socially driven organizations, subsidies provided by the government – are these not enough for combat? Part of the problem may lie well within our own perspective. When it comes to families dwelling in the slums, we create complex euphemisms such as ‘bottom of the pyramid’, ‘financially challenged’, ‘low income households’. Yet, we have an overtly simplistic approach towards the poor- we say, “I am pretty sure that this is best for you and I am going to tell you how to get there.” It is likely that once we do away with the caricaturesque image of the poor, the Continue reading Humanizing The Poor
Management guru CK Prahlad articulated his belief in the creation of new market systems by the private sector whereby they gain higher coverage in the “Bottom of the Pyramid” (‘BOP’). People in the BOP have been defined as the 4 billion lives, surviving on less than USD 2 per day. These low-income consumers are seen as a large opportunity for providers of products and services, if they are able to innovate on their business models. I have spent about 2 years now, closely observing the low-income segment. And frankly, I absolutely abhor and detest usage of the term BOP — find it very demeaning and sermonising — maybe I am slightly leaning towards the left, of late 🙂 Nevertheless, if one were to map CK Prahlad’s “12 principles of innovation for BOP markets” to the work we do, the following interesting observations can be made — Price vs Performance equation: CK Prahlad says that just because the poor cannot afford high-prices does not mean that they do not deserve high-quality products. Very true! People understand and demand better services — they know an MBBS doctor is better qualified than the local village-quack — they know MDs are specialists — they demand medicines in strip-packing (though need not be justified). Cost is the barrier, not the aspiration or awareness levels. Infact, sometimes the poor may require better-quality products — the barrier for investing in a new-product is higher for them and hence, they require a better incentive Use advanced technology with existing infrastructure: CK Prahlad believes that new technologies should be used to overcome barriers in accessibility and operational costs. Most micro-finance institutions have begun experimenting with biometric ATMs, smart cards, point-of-sale devices, etc. However, we believe the consumer is not yet ready to pay for this additional burden — especially in an insurance-linked service. Because everything adds up to the premium and thereby, making the product less attractive price-wise. Any such investment should currently be financed by the service-provider or an external agency, like the public institutions. Economies of scale: This is a motherhood statement for all kinds of businesses (not just a BOP model) — CK Prahlad believes that volume is the mantra for return of investment for a BOP business. Can’t be truer — ‘cost-of-operations per life’ becomes so prohibitively expensive when consumers are spread across a large geography and ‘available skilled manpower for selling’ is so prohibitively Continue reading Accessing the Market by Marketing Accessibility