Retail Opportunity Training Initiative

The ROTI program works to foster professional growth and empower women and men in India through a blended curriculum skills-based training

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Global Fairness Initiative

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Established (the solution has passed the previous stages and demonstrated success)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $250k - $500k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 10,000 - 50,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Headquarters location: Country

  • United States of America

Headquarters location: City

Washington, District of Columbia

Location(s) of impact

India (states): Gujarat, Rajasthan, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Shilong, Guwahati, Arunachal Pradesh


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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Despite India's growing economy, over half of the working-age women are unemployed or underemployed, trailing men in employment rates. Women’s economic empowerment is undermined by low participation in the economy due to high illiteracy rates, little access to quality education, and limited training in skills needed to find employment in the country's growth sectors. Women remain dependent and often resort to informal low-skilled, low-paid jobs.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

The Retail Opportunity Training Initiative Program's solution is to support the professional growth and economic empowerment of 36,000 women and men in India through market-oriented, curriculum-based trainings in retail sales and life skills. The central component of the program includes an integrated, blended curriculum retail training module aimed at personal and professional development that aligns SEWA’s core women's empowerment values. The most promising aspects of this program for creating shared value are its ability to be deployed to key markets capable of providing long-term employment opportunities for women, along with the significant impact it has had in its participants’ lives in allowing them to exercise their entrepreneurial skills to not only pursue their own interests but also to improve the lives of their families and communities.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

GFI and SEWA have built a robust training program that has not only demonstrated improvements in the capacity of almost 17,000 people, but has also led to increases in incomes and livelihood opportunities for marginalized women and youth across India. A GFI survey identified three groups that benefited most from trainings: youth, self-employed women, and trainers. Youth credit the program with building their courage and confidence to explore new opportunities in school and employment to succeed in their endeavors. Self-employed women have improved their customer service skills and seen their monthly incomes double. The trainers themselves experienced significant changes as they felt their confidence and social standing in their communities improve along with their incomes. In addition, SEWA has been able to develop successful partnerships with companies to offer positions to graduates.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

This initiative is primarily supported through grants in addition to subsidies from the Indian government. In order to maintain its financial sustainability, the program will rely on SEWA membership dues as well as the transition to online trainings which will lower operating costs. The program is currently also seeking other potential revenue streams. Grants: 70% Other: 30%

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

ROTI uses a blend of class-based and online learning to reach India's rural women and youth. While India has other programs seeking related outcomes, ROTI's innovative blended learning model allows it to reach often left-behind rural populations who are some of India's most marginalized women and men.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

In the 1970s, a generation of women in India sought economic empowerment, and they started a movement dedicated to organizing women as informal workers to gain access to the economy. The Self-Employed Women’s Association became a substantial force and movement in India; now, it continues with the next generation of young women seeking employment in the formal sector to gain expanded benefits, opportunities, and equality. The ROTI program is a tool to support and empower the sustainability of this movement. Seeing the success of young women who went through similar SEWA trainings in more urban areas, GFI partnered with SEWA to expand the scope of the program to encompass areas where women and youth are most marginalized.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

education is everything, the basis of any evolution so i congratulate your work and wish you the best. I love everything that touch education and the valorisation of human beings so you can count on me for anything. it will be a pleasure help you in your project.

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