Mrs. Bijal Brahmbhatt of Mahila Housing Trust (MHT) and Mrs. Ajaita Shah of Frontier Markets, who provide dignified habitats and clean energy to destitute communities, and Mr. Maharishi Vaishnav of Educate Girls, which facilitates access to education for girls, are presenting their transformative work at the CGI global forum in New York City this week. They are all Fellows of the Womanity Foundation’s WomenChangeMakers accelerator programme.

Under its WomenChangeMakers Fellowship programme, Womanity supports social entrepreneurs in scaling their ventures for women’s empowerment in India and Brazil since 2012 through strategic professional and technical support and by facilitating global connections.

Two of the most recent WomenChangeMakers Fellows, Ajaita Shah and Bijal Brahmbhatt, are heading organisations which empower women to lead underpriviledged communities in gaining access to decent habitats and renewable energy appliances. Access to good, affordable habitats and clean energy are major drivers of sustainable development, significantly improving the well-being of poor communities, while increasing their productivity and enhancing their status in society.

Mahila Housing Trust views habitat as a productive asset and believes that all citizens, have a right to equal access to services – such as clean water, sanitation, waste management, roads and energy – and to be treated with dignity. 

MHT is a facilitator and deliverer of pro-poor housing and related infrastructure for women living in slums. The organisation enables women to access government subsidies set aside for slum development; provides technical services, urban planning, legal expertise; and secures land tenure for slum residents. Working in seven Indian states, MHT has served over 1.5 million people over the past five years.

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Frontier Markets believes that each and every household deserves access to goods and services that will enhance their health, wealth, and productivity. Its mission is to eradicate deadly killers like kerosene and ensure a more energy-equitable future for millions of poor households.

Frontier Market’s innovation lies in its user-centric distribution and service model, in which rural women play a pivotal role. The organisation trains local women to educate rural households on the socio-economic and health benefits of clean energy products and to provide after-sales’ service, thus turning these women into clean energy advocates and entrepreneurs. By 2020, Frontier Markets aims to provide clean energy access to 1 million households in India while creating income-generating opportunities for women.

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Both social entrepreneurs are eager to cultivate partnerships that will enable them to scale up their work and increase their impact. With numerous changemakers and their supporters gathering at CGI this week, they are confident that they will be able to develop strategic collaborations to accelerate their transformative impact.

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WomenChangeMakers focuses on identifying and supporting social entrepreneurs who run successful organizations that work for women’s empowerment, address systemic gender inequalities, and positively transform society. It enables social entrepreneurs to scale and/or replicate their program and, ultimately, maximize impact. WCM Fellows are provided with access to professional resources and partners, such as consultancies and training; connections with investors and other social entrepreneurs working in a similar environment; and mentorships, partnerships, and professional consultations. 

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By the end of 2015, WCM had activated a network of 27 Professional Program Partners offering technical and expert support to its Fellowship, and created networking and financing opportunities through allied organizations, for a total amount valued at nearly USD 545,000. This model allows Professional Program Partners to channel their social investments through the program in a strategic manner towards the scaling-up of WCM Fellows’ organizations. Contact info@womanity.org if you are interested in contributing to the WCM Fellowship program. 

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The WomenChangeMakers Fellowship is a program of Womanity Foundation, co-funded and strategically supported by Philip Morris International and the Trafigura Foundation. 

The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes leaders to drive action through its unique model. Rather than directly implementing projects, CGI facilitates action by helping members connect, collaborate, and make effective and measurable Commitments to Action. CGI brings together leaders from the business, philanthropic, nonprofit, and government sectors to develop solutions that encourage economic growth, support long-term competitiveness, and increase social mobility. 

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