Have you ever heard of the Bandhwari Women’s Project? If you haven’t or want to learn more, you’ve come to the right place! This organization was created by a partnership between the International Business Honor Society (IBHS) and the Incentive Foundation. Students at Florida International University (FIU) were given the unique opportunity to travel on a service trip to India in 2016, led by their advisor Dr. David Wernick. There, they collaborated with the Initiative Foundation, which was established as part of the Inspiration India tour company. The Incentive Foundation’s mission is to create better living conditions for people in local, impoverished communities. IBHS and the Incentive Foundation aligned their ambitions and efforts to help the poverty-stricken village of Bandhwari flourish. This objective is being accomplished through the social enterprise they developed, known as the Bandhwari Women’s Project.
So, what is the Bandhwari Women’s Project? It all takes place sold in the United States for profit through channels such as FIU events and social media, where all revenue is reinvested into the project. While these handmade products are certainly stylish, they more importantly represent independence, economic power, and life changing opportunities, which would be extremely difficult for women in this area to reach otherwise. The Bandhwari Village, much like countless other communities, face challenges such as poverty, poor education and job opportunities, no transportation, and little to no infrastructure. Given the common patriarchal system, these challenges further restrict women. However, selling their products through the Bandhwari Women’s Project has proved to be a beacon of hope for these hard working women. This initiative provides them with empowerment by teaching them useful skills, giving them access to jobs, and encouraging them to manage their own bank accounts, all of which are limited for women. These efforts not only grant women more skills and decision-making power in the household, but they also prompt progress in their children’s lives. Although the social enterprise has impacted the lives of many, it is imperative for it to continue growing in order to continue impacting women.
So where are we now? The Bandwhari Women’s project has come a long way since it was established in 2016. The dedicated members of IBHS have increased sales, product variety, accessibility, and more. The cause behind this project is what it’s all about, and they thoroughly enjoy all the time invested into it. Students meet multiple times a week to spread awareness, organize events, expand their markets, and stay on top of current trends to ensure the success of the business. Throughout all this, IBHS members and the women of Bandhwari gain necessary skills and experience. While the women increase their economic opportunity, the students gain global awareness and build relationships with amazingly talented individuals from across the globe. The love and teamwork demonstrated through every aspect of this project is inspiring. A lot of progress has been made and there is a lot more to come, so stay posted!
Written by: Leahanna Sine and Stephanie Silva