Smart Village Strategy revolutionises development in rural India with social and economic programmes that empower the underserved poor

A unique approach to solving age-old problems. Our hybrid model joins education and entrepreneurship to transform communities and attitudes.

Photo of Tara McCartney
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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

Shakti Empowerment Solutions

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $50k - $100k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 5,000 - 10,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • India

Headquarters location: City

Kushingar, Uttar Pradesh, India

Location(s) of impact

India: Kushingar District, Eastern Uttar Pradesh (population circa 4 million)


Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

The rural poor in India face a complex web of challenges to improve their daily lives. Health, education, energy, income, lack of infrastructure, corruption, bad governance and more: each of these areas has a cause and effect relationship with the others. Solutions, financing and governance need to reflect the interdependent nature of these areas. Shakti Empowerment believes in ‘triggering’ inclusive social interventions that build a synergistic alliance between nonprofits, government, businesses and the community.

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

Our answer to the challenges facing rural Indians is the Smart Village concept, built around the 3 pillars of 1) Social Enterprise: we identify products and services which can be produced or distributed in the rural community. Then we establish a go-to-market plan to ensure that the enterprise will be successful and grow into a flourishing business. 2) Education: education and vocational programmes that reach all members of the community. 3) Community Support: we support communities by creating projects around citizen’’s rights and access to digital services. It’s a model based on experience. After 4 years working in the Kushinagar District, we have gained experience and insight into the needs of an underserved Indian rural community. Since the beginning, we’ve operated according to a learn-improve-apply paradigm and have learned what works. In order to host these 3 pillars of activity in Tirmasahun (our model village), we built a community centre to act as the heart of our work.

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

Our Social Enterprises establish viable business for eco-friendly products & create alternative income opportunities. Key figures: Our water project delivers clean water to 15 villages Our solar project provides safe energy to around 150 families Over the pilot phase of our chulas project we produced 10 low smoke stoves Our Education projects raise awareness around environment & societal issues & improve the literacy rate in our community. In a nutshell: We provide high level education for the poor local children We employ 3 teachers in the govt school (serving 200 students) for an increased level of teaching We increase the level of confidence in women over our women empowerment classes Our Community Support Hub acts as the heart of a Smart Village. E.g.: We made our village the first ODF village of district We led health camps, providing the villagers with eye & diabete check & vaccinating 400 people against JE We provided access to govt insurance plans to the all village

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

Sustainability is at the heart of our work. Our programs are designed to play a fundamental role in the development of the village for many years to come Our threefold approach leads to viable & scalable solutions & aims, after an educational & training phase led by the SES professionals, to create a self sustained, modern community Our education methods open new livelihood possibilities, bolster income generation & provide access to information around civic rights. Our social entrepreneurial projects allow communities to build on the newly won knowledge & sustain growth. Our Community Support Hub motivates the villagers to stand up for their rights & to find solutions to work related struggles Our annual income is as follows Donations 10% Grants/Impact Funding 60% Earned Income 30%

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

Our project is born out of hard won & often painful experience. We adopted a community in an area practically untouched by development & build our strategy & impact from scratch. Through building trust & network, we created infrastructures which brought a forgotten village into the local spotlight. We are convinced that our ambitious but realistic vision of holism & social enterprise is the future of development work. Our hearts beat for the well-being & increased prosperity of our communities.

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

SES was borne through experience & commitment to rural development. It's a story which started with good intentions & which developed into an ambitious business & model for transformative change in rural India. With a burning knowledge that she wanted to make a difference in India, Tara McCartney founded the NGO United for Hope. After a year working in rural India, she realised that the complex social issues can't be solved via traditional channels but through a holistic, sustainable approach which doesn't shy away from creating lucrative markets for income generation. This 'solution bridge' drives us forward to create models and programs based upon experience in the corporate world and to provide a new form of leadership and leverage in a clear, practical way. As social enterprise became more important to our strategy, SES was born to create a flexible hybrid model.

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

  • Ashoka page or contact

Attachments (1)

Smart Village Concept.jpg

A graphical representation of our strategy


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Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Every assistance is welcome to this very important part of society that deserves all possible support.

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