Strengthening Communities: Introducing the Four Vital Indices by Samhita-CGF

Strengthening Communities: Introducing the Four Vital Indices by Samhita-CGF

In the pursuit of comprehensive financial inclusion innovations, Samhita-CGF’s pioneering network alliance is steadfastly working towards addressing the credit gap experienced by underbanked communities and micro-entrepreneurs. To assess our progress in this initiative, we are excited to introduce a revolutionary method for measuring and improving credit impact outcomes for informal sector enterprises by introducing four key indices – the Income Index, Economic Empowerment Index, Women Economic Empowerment Index, and Resilience Index. These indices are intricately crafted to offer in-depth insights into the economic well-being and resilience of communities. Let’s explore the significance of these indices and understand their vital role in evaluating the impact of informal sector enterprises and the households they support.

The significance of indices

Indices are vital tools for tracking progress and measuring the change in various aspects of communities. For instance, the Reserve Bank of India’s Consumer Confidence Index reveals that consumer sentiment rebounded significantly in the last quarter, reaching an index value of 118.8, indicating a growing confidence in the economy. This data points to the importance of understanding the sentiments and perspectives of consumers for effective economic policies. An index is thus “a single, unique numerical value tracked over a given period as a time-series”. Some of the other common indices measured in India are MoSPI’s consumer price index (CPI), BSE Sensex, air quality index (AQI), RBI’s financial inclusion index, etc.

In 1990, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) transformed the landscape of development theory, measurement, and policy with the publication of its first annual Human Development Report (HDR) and the introduction of the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI, born from Amartya Sen’s revolutionary “capabilities approach,” emphasized the importance of human well-being beyond income. This pioneering index inspired the creation of other impactful measures, with the latest HDR published in 2022.

More recently in July 2023, NITI Aayog came out with the progress report on multidimensional poverty index, which derives its methodology from the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) published by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

The choice of the indices by Samhita-CGF

In an increasingly interconnected world, the need for robust indices cannot be overstated. Traditional economic indicators often fall short in capturing the nuanced challenges faced by different segments of the population. The Income Index, Economic Empowerment Index, Women Economic Empowerment Index, and Resilience Index are tailored to bridge this gap. Below is a snapshot of the same.

According to a recent UNDP report, the global Gender Development Index (GDI) shows progress, but it also highlights the persistent gender disparities in education and income in various regions. This underscores the importance of specialized indices like the Women Economic Empowerment Index to address these specific challenges. Similarly, the Resilience Index aims to measure the ability of the proprietor’s household to withstand any exogenous or endogenous shock, given the sustainability offered by the growth of the enterprises through capital and other intervention support provided by Samhita-CGF.

Indices as a means to track our commitment to the vision for supporting the informal sector

Through the REVIVE Alliance, Samhita- CGF envisions to empower communities through data-driven insights and targeted interventions. Our recent impact assessment shows that through this alliance, we have catalysed the advancement of livelihoods for over 5,50,000 informal workers and entrepreneurs in just three years. This includes more than 4,40,000 women who have benefited from multiple interventions under the alliance, showcasing the potential for transformative change. We believe that by accurately measuring and understanding economic empowerment and resilience, we can implement interventions that have a lasting impact on the lives of individuals and families.

The resounding success of REVIVE looks at the next phase where we aim to irreversibly increase incomes and improve the livelihoods of 2 million participants over the next 3 years, and 10 million workers and MSMEs in 5 years (with at least 50% being women) through multi-year, multi-intervention support of participants. We aim to not only facilitate the graduation of small businesses into the formal economy, but also provide evidence to demonstrate the creditworthiness of these segments as a whole and create a new market for formal lending for banks, NBFCs, and other FIs. Our co-created pre credit score (PCS) will be used as a proxy for a formal credit rating and be required as a scheme prerequisite. (We elaborated more on PCS here.)

In a world where change is the only constant, it is imperative that we have the tools to adapt and grow. The Income Index, Economic Empowerment Index, Women Economic Empowerment Index, and Resilience Index are the embodiment of our commitment to creating a brighter, more prosperous future for all. (We deep dive into one of the indices, Women Economic Empowerment Index, here.) With these indices as the basis of measurement of impact on each beneficiary’s life, we can assess not only the number of beneficiaries but the degree to which the impact was created in the life of each individual. These indices would give a deeper insight into the impact REVIVE is creating and will aid the alliance to dive deeper into the challenges and opportunities to support and impact many more lives. 


This article was authored by Abhishek Gupta, Ipsita Gupta, and Varnika Jain

Chetna Gala Sinha

Chetna Gala Sinha

Samhita-CGF’s expertise in supporting women entrepreneurs perfectly complemented Mann Deshi’s mission of empowering rural women with the tools and knowledge they need to break free from poverty’s grip.Supporting Mann Deshi through REVIVE, we supported more than 5,300 vulnerable women across Maharashtra with Returnable Grants and consistently saw close to 100% repayment rates in spite of the pandemic and multiple economic crises that the women had weathered. 

 Chetna Gala Sinha, Founder – Mann Deshi Foundation, talks about how this partnership provided holistic access to credit and livelihood support to women entrepreneurs at a time when they needed it the most.

Sapna Prabhakaran

Sapna Prabhakaran

Samhita-CGF, through REVIVE, and its approach to livelihood recovery was closely aligned with Avendus’ program on promoting entrepreneurship among rural women communities. Together, we addressed critical issues faced by women entrepreneurs: viz. access to finance, market linkages, and income diversification. We are on our way to impacting 800 women through Returnable Grants, with an astounding 97% repayment rate.

 Sapna Prabhakaran, Executive Director and Head – Marketing & Corporate Communications, Avendus talks about this amazing initiative.

Dr. Megha Phansalkar

Dr. Megha Phansalkar

Samhita-CGF’s collaboration with Tisser brought together multiple partners and funders committed toward the holistic growth of vulnerable women artisans by layering on complementary interventions. Google, MSDFF, Vinati Organics supported access to credit for the artisans, with an RG repayment rate of over 97%. The participants also received digital and financial literacy/prudence training through Linkedin as well as access to at least 2 social security schemes/entitlements through Samhita-CGF supported by CMS Swasti.

Dr. Megha Phansalkar, Founder – Tisser Artisans Trust, talks about how the partnership with Samhita-CGF through REVIVE ignited their entrepreneurial spirit in these women artisans, and paved the way for a brighter, more inclusive future.

India Inc buckles up to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

India Inc buckles up to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

“Whether to safeguard their workers or help strengthen the country’s COVID-19 response, companies across India are stepping up to strategically utilize their resources to address the here-and-now but also shoring up for the future in ways that are beneficial to both business and society.”

Samhita’s CEO & Founder, Priya Naik and Visiting Scientist at The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health, Dr. Nachiket Mor, illustrate the virtuous cycle of mutual benefit that can be created between business and society, especially in times of such crisis when the chasms between the haves and have-nots are wide.

Why the health of sanitation workers needs to be our society’s concern?

Why the health of sanitation workers needs to be our society’s concern?

“In a world without sanitation workers, business and daily life would come to a halt”.

It may seem too extreme to state but is nevertheless true. Without sanitation workers, the functioning of our ecosystem will halt as supply chains of products and services are adversely affected.

Samhita believes that it is essential to ensure preventive health care for our sanitation workers to not only ensure the smooth functioning of our society but also enable them to live a life of dignity. Our WASH platform and, more recently, our IPA platform aims to put money where our mouth is.

To know more about our approach, read this article written by Priya Naik, Ragini Menon and Tushar Carhavlo for CNBC-TV18.

Creating the Hygiene Culture: Impact of Dettol School Hygiene Program

Creating the Hygiene Culture: Impact of Dettol School Hygiene Program

COVID-19, the most severe public health crisis of our times, amplified our need for hygiene & sanitation. Governments, policy makers, health workers and civil society swiftly ramped up hygiene infrastructure and education in their drive for a disease-free world.

Following this trend Samhita & Collective Good Foundation partnered with Reckitt Benckiser to launched the Dettol School Hygiene Education Programme in the State of Andhra Pradesh in 2015 and extended the programme to Telangana by 2016 and to Tamil Nadu by 2018.

The programme builds knowledge, attitudes, practice and behaviour around hygiene in children by engaging children as collaborators, letting them drive the change. It builds their leadership and critical-thinking skills and enables them to solve hygiene problems in creative, sustainable ways, like solving the problem of access by setting up soap banks, ensuring hygiene through Child Parliaments and more.

In a boost to the programme, the curriculum was translated into several local languages, easing the path to adoption and engagement across South India. In another first, Collective Good Foundation introduced digital learning through government education portals. Andhra Pradesh was the first state to upload digital video episodes on their DISHA portals. These videos are accessible to all schools and teachers at the touch of a button and now reach 2.5 million students across 42,000 schools.

Click below to read the full report on how the Dettol School Hygiene Education Programme is developing a culture of hygiene in India’s children.

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: Unveiling the Women Economic Empowerment Index

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: Unveiling the Women Economic Empowerment Index

To push towards sustainable development goals, the voice and agency of women are catalysts for change and progress. Recognizing this, Samhita-CGF has taken a bold step towards quantifying and fostering women’s economic empowerment through an initiative: the Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) Index. This comprehensive tool is designed to measure and monitor the progress of women entrepreneurs in India’s dynamic semi-formal and informal sectors, recognizing their pivotal role in driving economic growth and societal transformation. 


Measuring Progress: From UN’s GEM to WEE Index

In 1995, the United Nations introduced the Gender Empowerment Measure, a landmark effort to measure the advancements made by women globally. This was followed by two critical indices—the Gender Development Index and the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law Index – evaluating gender inequalities across health, education, income, and specific economic empowerment indicators. While these global indices provide valuable insights, they often overlook a significant population: women operating in India’s informal sector. It became imperative henceforth, to recognize this gap and develop an index tailored exclusively for women-run microenterprises in India’s semi-formal and informal sector.


Unpacking Empowerment: The Six Dimensions of WEE Index

The WEE Index delves into six key dimensions that shape economic empowerment. These dimensions are carefully crafted to provide a comprehensive view of the multifaceted journey towards empowerment. They reflect not only economic progress but also the social and personal factors that influence a woman’s ability to thrive in her entrepreneurial endeavours. By addressing each dimension, the index helps to create a holistic framework that uplifts women not only as economic contributors but as leaders and change-makers within their communities. 

The selection of these six dimensions for the Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) Index is rooted in the need for a nuanced and comprehensive evaluation of women’s economic progress. Each of these dimensions serves as a broad category, further broken down into specific sub-dimensions and tangible indicators. For instance, within “Enterprise Performance,” aspects such as formalization, including registration under Udyam and GST, as well as the adoption of digital technologies for business growth is scrutinized. Similarly, “Intra-household Decision-Making” recognizes that empowerment extends to a woman’s ability to influence decisions within her household and community. This is evaluated through indicators like her confidence in handling banking transactions independently and active participation in women’s groups for networking and advice. 


Thus, these six dimensions, along with their respective sub-dimensions, form the building blocks of the WEE Index, ensuring a robust and inclusive assessment of women’s economic progress. The weightages are also assigned to the dimensions according to the influence they wield on overall women economic empowerment. 


Integrating the Women Economic Empowerment Index

The integration of the WEE Index into REVIVE Alliance is a monumental stride towards advancing livelihoods. Over the past three years, REVIVE has empowered over 5,50,000 informal workers and entrepreneurs, of which more than 4,40,000 are women, benefitting 1,76,573 MSMEs. The aim is to reach an ambitious target of impacting and empowering 5 million women beneficiaries in the next 5 years through multiple interventions. Integrating the Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) Index into REVIVE, is a significant step towards advancing economic empowerment for women. This strategic move allows to continuously assess and track the progress of women entrepreneurs within the chosen cohort. Through a structured panel design survey, one can gain invaluable insights into the economic empowerment journey of these entrepreneurs. This data-driven approach not only refines the multiple interventions under REVIVE Alliance, but also enables targeting resources effectively, ensuring that women receive the support they need to thrive.


From Index to Impact: How the WEE Index Drives Change

The true power of the WEE Index lies in its ability to catalyze change on the ground. As an actionable tool, it empowers organizations, policymakers, and stakeholders to make informed decisions and craft targeted interventions. By understanding the nuances of women’s economic empowerment, we can design programs that address specific challenges, provide tailored support, and amplify impact. The WEE Index isn’t just a measurement; it’s a catalyst for meaningful, sustainable change!


Through initiatives like the WEE Index and strategic collaborations, we are steadfastly building a future where women entrepreneurs are not just participants but leaders, not just beneficiaries but catalysts of change.


This article was authored by Ipsita and Abhishek Gupta

Our Private Healthcare System’s COVID-19 response can make or break India’s future

Our Private Healthcare System’s COVID-19 response can make or break India’s future

India has a mixed healthcare system, with majority of healthcare services being provided by the private sector. This accentuates the importance of private health care enterprises to partake in providing smaller and district level health providers with the support to continue functioning during economic upheaval.

Public health and economic experts stressed the importance of organising and fortifying the private healthcare system’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. They unanimously believed that investing in streamlining and strengthening the public healthcare system today can prepare the country for the long haul.

Check the key insights from our webinar ‘Strengthening the public health system is in our enlightened self interest’ and Samhita’s take on it.

Can the Microcredit Model Be Improved?

Can the Microcredit Model Be Improved?

The problem here is not a lack of microcredit programs or their execution but rather something in the model itself. This leads us to ask: Can we modify or extend certain aspects of the microfinance model to achieve better outcomes for recipients?

Vikas Dimble, Director of Knowledge and Research at Samhita and Ahmed Moshfiq Mobarak, Professor of Economics at Yale University write on how microcredit can be used to help poor communities pull through unexpected shocks if the microcredit model is modified to incorporate inclusivity and flexible lending practices.