SEWA (A): Ela Bhatt
(7 pages of text)
AWARD WINNING CASE - Responsible Leadership category, 2014 European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) Case Writing Competition.
In February 2014, a McKinsey Global Institute report proposed tracking an empowerment line that could enable India’s citizens to get out of poverty by providing the resources they needed to build better lives. This prompted Ela Bhatt, founder of the India-based Self-Employed Women’s Association, to take stock of her initiative to empower women working in India's informal sector. Since 1972, her organization has been widely acclaimed as a global first mover and active champion of grassroots development. Quickly approaching two million members in India and six neighbouring countries, and inspiring similar efforts in South Africa, Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso, it exemplifies a unique form of positively deviant organizing by speaking to the centrality of human beings at work. Given resources, support and encouragement, its many members have used their own human agency even in the direst of circumstances to better their lives in ways most meaningful to them, for instance, by creating childcare, health care, banking, farming and education cooperatives. However, as she reaches retirement and contemplates the future, Bhatt wonders if the new generation of Indian leaders will take up the Gandhian socially minded path or follow the commercial careers opening up in the country’s multinational sector. Also see B case 9B14C019
- To introduce human agency and explain how it enables organizing at and across geographic, economic, social and cultural levels and establishes humanity as a key part of organizing for social change.
- To discuss the importance of social movements within organizations and society and the central roles of human beings in creating positive change at and through work.
- To introduce and discuss notions and practices of empowerment with a focus on women leaders in any culture, caste or ethnicity.
- To encourage leaders of all ages to enable human agency at work.
Social Advocacy Organizations
India, Large, 2013-2014
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