Our journey with ARMMAN started in 2017 when ARMMAN’s founder, Dr. Aparna Hegde, became a WomenChangeMakers Fellow with The Womanity Foundation. ARMMAN, founded in 2008, is an NGO that works on maternal and child health. They use tech-enabled solutions to reach women, children and health workers at scale in a cost-effective manner across India. We aligned instantly with Aparna’s vision, her sense of urgency of the situation for women, and her passion for closing the gender gap by empowering women through fundamental support in the areas of pregnancy and childhood care.
“It was 1:00 am and I was called to the emergency room to examine Aruna, a 25 year old with gestational diabetes, having her first baby. Aruna had been transferred from Thane civil hospital with her baby’s head delivered, but the body stuck inside, as it was too large to pass through. I will never forget the first sight of her: a beautiful frail young woman with the head of a beautiful dead baby sticking out of her vagina. Aruna died three days later. Her death will forever stay with me. Not only because she died a most horrible death, but also because it was preventable… She had gone for her first antenatal visit but she had not been counselled about the remaining visits, danger signs, and potential complications. If only she had been…” – Dr. Aparna Hegde, Founder, ARMMAN
We partnered with ARMMAN with the common purpose of enabling women to take control of their own health, and the health of their children and families.
“Give women a little information and they start taking control of their circumstances. They will stand up for their families, to their community, demanding that they be heard and demanding better rights for their girl children.” – Dr. Aparna Hegde, Founder, ARMMAN
Preparing for Scale
ARMMAN was at a critical inflexion point when we began our partnership with them. They had successfully rolled out mMitra to 9 states, reaching close to 2 million women. The Government of India noticed this success, and reached out to ARMMAN to implement and augment Kilkari, a similar free voice call service, and Mobile Academy, a mobile-based training course for frontline health workers (ASHAs), in 13 states of India. Partnering with the government and taking on Kilkari and Mobile Academy – the largest mobile-based programs of their kind in the world – meant scaling exponentially from their existing reach of 2 million to 20million women instantly. While this was a massive opportunity for ARMMAN, they recognized that there was a lot to do to prepare for such scale.
The Womanity Foundation’s partnership model of supporting organizational strengthening and capacity building aligned with the critical needs identified by ARMMAN to succeed in their implementation of the Kilkari and Mobile Academy programs.
“Womanity came at such a timely and critical time in ARMMAN’s journey. Not many donors are ready to invest in organisational development which doesn’t have immediate tangible impact on the ground but is so critical for sustainability and resilience. That was real catalytic impact. Womanity understood the importance of this and that speaks a lot to Womanity’s own investment strategy.” – Swati Saxena, Director of Resource Mobilisation, ARMMAN
After a comprehensive needs assessment, we connected the ARMMAN team with Social Synergy, an organisation that works with small to mid-sized NGOs on institution-building. We worked closely with Social Synergy to help ARMMAN with budgeting exercises, and a scaling strategy to roll out Kilkari Mobile Academy.
Today, ARMMAN has reached 25 million women through mMitra and Kilkari and has trained close to 200,000 health workers across 18 states and union territories in India.
“The new generation needs the guidance offered by mMitra calls. I have definitely become more confident after listening to the calls. I’m more sure about caring for Chinmay. I feel a sense of satisfaction.” – Jyoti, Mother and mMitra user
The long road ahead towards healthy, equal communities
ARMMAN’s mission to grow at scale requires them to have a very comprehensive and strategic roadmap for the next 10 years. Womanity brought in consulting company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to help ARMMAN create a blueprint for three of its programs (Kilkari, Mobile Academy, and Integrated High Risk Pregnancy Management project in Telangana) for a 5 year and 10 year plan. This work has been important as ARMMAN has now embarked on an overall organisational blueprint exercise for the next 10 years.
“We always encourage our NGO partners to invest in their strategic plans and strengthen their teams by leveraging external expertise. In their quest to implement their programs and because funding often goes directly to programs, NGOs often neglect their own administrative core – but this is essential for them to grow and achieve their goals in the long term.” – Rana Askoul, CEO, Womanity Foundation
“It has been a wonderful experience working with The Womanity Foundation. Their entire approach is based on mutual trust and respect, leading to meaningful conversations. Their support has been critical in capacity building and organisational strengthening as ARMMAN prepares for the next 10 years of growth and impact.” – Dr. Aparna Hegde, Founder, ARMMAN
Dreaming big, making transformational change at a global level
In the 3 years of working closely with ARMMAN, we appreciated the value of their work and knew that others can leverage their experiences in improving the lives of women and children. We invited ARMMAN to our global conference in Brazil. Aparna’s participation in the dialogue on gender equality was a powerful voice in our collaboration.
We were delighted to learn that Aparna (and ARMMAN) won the prestigious Skoll award in 2020, putting them on a global platform to take them one more step closer to their dream. It is important for local organisations to engage on a global stage to be able to drive systemic change.
“Womanity really helped us build awareness globally through the international opportunities, and particularly with its support and reference for the Skoll Award. It is really helpful to have that kind of exposure.” – – Swati Saxena, Director of Resource Mobilisation, ARMMAN
A world with equal rights and opportunities
Our vision is to build a world where women and men have equal rights and opportunities. Working with ARMMAN has left us inspired and hopeful that we can achieve this through collaborations with such empowering organisations and teams. We recognised and leveraged the small but critical role we could play through flexible funding, institutional building, providing global exposure, and just by being a part of their enduring journey to empower mothers and enable healthy children. Organisations like ARMMAN can change the world. And we commit to do our part to help them achieve that.