When I was a child, my father left my mother... being a woman is tough: Cherie Blair in Gujarat
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Former British First Lady Cherie Blair, whose charity foundation has partnered with SEWA to give around 200 women a mobile application that has helped them upgrade their business transactions and boost profits, was on her maiden visit to Gujarat to assess the impact of the application on the business done by the "Rudibens" in Surendranagar and Anand districts where the pilot testing had been going on for one-and-a-half-months.
A Rudiben in essence is a mediator between the farmer and the end consumer which in many cases is the farmer's family itself. Once the farmer gives his products at the Rudi processing centres, which are there in six districts, the products are cleaned and packaged after which a "Rudiben" sells it door-to-door to her customers. This mobile application enables the Rudibens streamline their business transactions into a mobile, which was earlier done manually. Earlier she would have to visit the processing centre twice to place the order of the customer, thereby increasing her travel and phone expenses.
Blair visited the food processing centre at Dhrangadhra and tried her hand at packaging process and later visited the Rudi haat or marketing centre at Kuda village, which is 18 kms from Dhrangadhra where she met the Rudibens, saw how they store and take their products from farmers and sell them to the villagers nearby.
Excerpts from an interview:
How do you view Britain changing its stand and warming to the Modi government last year?
I cannot speak for the British government and their stand, but it definitely seems there is more engagement with Gujarat.
Did you face any hindrance in partnering for this project with SEWA from the state government?
Although we have wanted to work in this partnership, things took a long time to shape up. But one of the jobs I do as part of the Cherie Blair Foundation For Women is to work with state governments, the World Bank and other funding agencies and yes, I have been engaged with the state government for this project as well.
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