The Wadhwani Foundation and Wadhwani Catalyst Fund have announced a strategic relationship with Frontier Markets to empower and support up to 10,000 rural Indian women over the next two and a half years by assisting them in earning income on their own.

Local women from villages are referred to as 'Saral Jeevan Sahelis,' and they will be sourced, recruited, and trained before being given an opportunity to earn a living. Sahelis are powerful figures in rural areas, particularly in their villages. The Wadhwani Foundation and Frontier Markets' goal is to improve the overall quality of rural households by increasing their earning options and allowing them to invest in their children's future.

Rural women desire a stable income, but they don't have access to the resources they need. Frontier Markets intends to expand to new geographies (from the current two to seven), invest in their tech platform, and hire additional sahelis as they expand to new countries in order to fulfil their purpose of empowering sahelis.

This investment aligns with the Wadhwani Catalyst Fund's purpose of amplifying effect through large-scale job creation funding. This alliance aims to increase sahelis' monthly income to Rs 7,000-10,000, allowing them to live a self-sufficient and dignified life. This is a substantial supplementary source of income for a household in rural areas.

Sanjay Shah, Chief Operating Officer, Wadhwani Foundation - India/SEA, said, “Frontier Markets is changing the way villages buy products and services, and the way business is done across the hinterland by building an army of rural women salesforce (or sahelis), armed with smartphones and deep consumer insight. They are driving change, creating an impact while managing to make money and profits.”

Frontier Markets is a rural social commerce platform that distributes high-quality products to 3000 communities through a network of 10,000 rural women entrepreneurs who earn consistent and growing incomes. Clean energy solutions, energy-efficient home appliances/mobile phones, agri-products, FMCG, and digital financial services are among the company's offerings.

“This partnership becomes one of the first to showcase how blended capital can be leveraged to support social businesses and help drive accelerated scale,” said Ajaita Shah, Founder and CEO, Frontier Markets, in a statement.

The sahelis understand clients and curate demand using a Phygital Model. The app collects client information, displays products, and manages sales and inventory, while the saheli homes act as storefronts and local touchpoints, with Frontier Markets branches serving as warehouses. It's the first data-driven model that uses insights to create tailored solutions for rural customers.