Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) Project Shakti wins the highly commended innovative project at the Finance for the Future Awards, 2019 (F4TF19). The Finance for the Future Awards recognizes finance functions and organisations driving sustainable economies. The goal is to raise awareness of the benefits of moving to a sustainable, resilient business model among the business, public and third sectors, academic and finance communities by rewarding best practice.
Project Shakti is an initiative to financially empower rural women and create livelihood opportunities for them by helping them become micro-entrepreneurs, equipping them to sell Unilever products in low-income rural communities. It provides a regular income stream for the Shakti entrepreneurs and their families.
The judges mentioned that the Shakti programme is an impressive initiative that, to date, has financially empowered more than 100,000 women in rural India. By teaching them various aspects of how to run a retail business, from inventory to distribution management, it has increased the average income of a Shakti household and enhanced the lives and status of the women within their communities. The judging panel was particularly impressed with the practical implementation of GPS and density mapping technology to support rural supply chains. Its success has led to the model being adapted and evolving in other countries.