A Corporate Collaboration to Advance Women’s Financial Inclusion in Pakistan
Guddi Baji, the female community influencer program is a livelihoods initiative which has been unlocking value and inclusion for women since 2012. From its first ever salon model in 2012, to its retail operations from 2015 to 2018, and now the 2019 partnerships with JazzCash and the Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN), more than 8000 women have been trained and enabled as entrepreneurs.
The new Guddi Baji model involves partnership with Pakistan’s largest telecommunications company, Jazz, through which both companies leveraged their core competencies to increase value for their products and drive financial inclusion for low-income women in Pakistan.
The Opportunity to Reach and Empower More Women
According to Women’s World Banking, only 7% of women in Pakistan maintain an account at a formal financial institution with the gender gap in account ownership increasing to 28 percentage points in recent years leaving over 50 million unbanked women who may actively save for their families through informal means. The JazzCash mobile wallet serving as a digital bank account helps women securely manage their finances.
Through our partnership with JazzCash, we are aiming to develop a network of JazzCash Guddi Baji retail agents who can offer access to financial services to their customers.
The Role of the Guddi Bajis and the 2019 Model:
We developed a partnership and consortium with a local social welfare organization – the Rural Support Program Network - to connect with the most vulnerable people in local communities. Through this platform, we have created an entrepreneurial movement whereby women in villages are given an opportunity to act as ambassadors and route-to-market agents for Unilever, providing a means of income for them to support their families. This model incorporates recruitment, training and capability building via comprehensive training tools, focusing on techniques to run profitable businesses.
In the 2019 model, 4500 Guddi Bajis were inducted from the rural areas across Pakistan. These women are not just agents for Unilever for door-to-door selling of our products and starting a retail business, they are also lady health care workers and RSPN workers who supply cosmetics, spices and other retail products on demand.
According to a survey, we found that over 40% of our Guddi Bajis now have smartphones and are using them with ease. This has opened avenues to place online orders through a digital ordering application for the Guddi Bajis which allows them direct booking of their orders. JazzCash has similarly helped them save and reinvest their money, enabling them to polish their entrepreneurial skills and achieve financial empowerment.
The Guddi Baji livelihoods program combines two of our priorities; improving livelihoods and women empowerment through financial inclusion enabling us to live our purpose of being a force for good for Pakistan and Pakistanis.