Sanitation Workers

There are more than five million full-time sanitation workers of which two million are directly engaged in high-risk tasks such as emptying septic tanks, maintaining sewer lines, and drains at the cost of their health, dignity, and safety. Irrespective of their contributions, they are not recognized as essential public service providers, instead are overlooked, made invisible, stigmatized, and ostracized by society at large. Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of sanitation workers and their families to many challenges. They face various challenges at the workplace, such as compromised health and safety, limited or no awareness about social security schemes, and limited skills and livelihood options. 

Therefore, the REVIVE Alliance aims to uplift sanitation workers by improving their overall quality of life while addressing critical socio-economic challenges faced by sanitation workers through focused interventions that cater to their immediate, medium- and long-term needs. In doing so, the project not only impacted the workers but also their family members resulting in 4x overall impact.

The project has 3 components: 

  1. Provision of PPE kits to sanitation workers, 
  2. Providing upskilling and entrepreneurship support
  3. Linking sanitation workers with relevant social security schemes. 

The program is implemented by Kam Foundation and Haqdarshak Empowerment Solutions Private Limited in Pune and Mumbai, Maharashtra. So far, PPE kits have been distributed to 1000 sanitation workers and have undergone covid-19 prevention training. 499 sanitation workers have received benefits from the social security schemes, and 792 sanitation workers have undergone upskilling and entrepreneurship training. The project envisages improving the health of sanitation workers by preventing them to catch the infection, increasing usage of PPE kits, access to government entitlements, and enhanced skills and technical know-how for increased income generation potential.


There are approximately 8,00,000 pharmacies in India with a compounded  annual growth rate of 10.08% in the organized sector. As per a study conducted on pharmacies by Samhita Social Ventures and the Cipla Foundation  41% pharmacists provide medical guidance to customers and 57% viewed themselves as a ‘supporter of people’s health needs’.  Moreover, 50%  saw an increase in customers seeking medical guidance post COVID-19.  During the COVID-19 crisis, pharmacies have defended the communities on the frontline and have supported them with hygiene essentials, information as well as guidance on maintaining overall wellness.

There is potential to transcend the one-dimensional approach of viewing pharmacies as a dispenser of drugs to an integral part of the healthcare system, providing primary healthcare services to the citizens. Tapping this potential is the driving force of the Pharmacy Alliance, which is aligned with WHO’s guiding principles, which suggests that “Contribution to improving the effectiveness of the healthcare system and public health” is an important function of pharmacies. WHO has suggested that pharmacies should engage in preventive care activities and services, provide point-of-care testing, where applicable, and other health screening activities. They should also engage in preventive care activities that promote public health and prevent disease.

What is the solution?

The Pharmacy Alliance aims to empower pharmacists with the knowledge, tools, resources, and incentives to become trusted healthcare providers (and not just sellers of medicines) to their local and underserved communities.

With the support of NIIF and Digihealth, Samhita-CGF  has piloted an intervention under the Pharmacy Alliance aimed at empowering pharmacies to become a hyperlocal tier for facilitating healthcare. Through this program, Pharmacists are supporting citizens with easy, quick, and free of cost access to BP and BMI screening that correlates to two of the most common lifestyle diseases  – Hypertension and Obesity. The pharmacists are provided pay for performance incentive for conducting screenings and booking teleconsultations. 

What has been the impact so far? 

A total of 237 Pharmacies have been onboarded as part of this pilot. These Pharmacies are situated across Mumbai, Pune, and surrounding areas of Palghar, Raigad, & Thane. So far, 2,100+ unique customers have been screened and made aware of their BP and BMI status through this pilot with a total of 2,400 BP and 2,250 BMI screenings. The pilot has been able to demonstrate that:

  • Pharmacies, if provided with the right set-up support and incentives, are willing to participate in such programs
  • Customers are open to considering Pharmacies as “points of care” as they are willing to get screened for non-invasive basic lifestyle diseases or concerns
  • The pilot has successfully been able to make these customers aware of their BP and BMI readings that might inform the customer of any potential risks/concerns at a touchpoint wherein the customer wasn’t expecting such care interventions in the first place.

Kirana Store Owners

Around 13-17 million kirana stores form an integral part of the retail industry in India and local economy in various pockets of urban and rural India. The kirana stores were especially instrumental during COVID-19 induced lockdown ensuring that citizens had stocks of regular food & grain supplies. The hyperlocal consumption will only grow with the rising middle-income group in India. However, the kiranas continue to be shackled in traditional, inefficient operational practices, and are under threat due to thin margins, increased competition from larger chains and ecommerce. While Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the pace of digital payments, larger digital transformation in terms of inventory management, customer servicing etc. is still largely absent. There is low awareness among small kiranas on benefits of modernization and lack of knowledge & handholding support to realize the transformation.

The kirana sub-alliance aims to catalyse penetration of digitization to the small merchants by making their businesses more profitable, resilient and competitive. The alliance focuses on demonstrating to the market that with awareness, hand holding and incentives, these small stores in urban & rural India can and will power India’s Atmanirbhar success story.

The initiative is jointly being funded by MSDF (Michael & Susan Dell Foundation), USAID (United States Agency for International Development), British High Commission, New Delhi and UNDP (United Nations Development Programme).

Through two partners CGF is working with small merchants to provide knowledge & hand holding on modern retail practices, subsidized access to PoS devices and cash incentives & other benefits to kickstart their digitization & subsequent business growth journey. Through effective digital transactions, better inventory management & efficient customer service, these small stores will be able to achieve higher business efficiency.

In partnerships with Snapbizz Cloud Tech, CGF is offering returnable grants to ensure 5000 high-risk merchants who have been left out of digitization initiatives due to various market barriers are able to access a POS device and an Enterprise Resource Planning solution to digitize their operations and make their businesses more profitable. Through the Snapbizz TOTO app, we are providing them with solutions that are enabling them to manage digital payments, monitor stock inventory, increase customer engagement and become more efficient overall.

The grant is paid back in 4 monthly instalments thus enabling it to support maximum beneficiaries with minimum investment. Merchants are further given a Pay for Performance incentive linked to successful repayment of the grant. The incentive is equivalent to four months’ rent and is aimed to ensure greater retention and increased adoption over time.

In partnership with Mswipe Technologies, CGF is offering a simple grant to train 75,000 small merchants with a turnover of fewer than 20 lakhs to adopt digitised payments including card and QR code-based UPI payment solutions for greater reach. Merchants who perform well over a period of time are further provided micro ATMs and offered financial instruments like loans and insurances.

In addition to this, our partner TRRAIN will enable merchants across both interventions to upgrade their skills through their Retail Education Program. Merchants are given access to a series of 49 DIY (Do it yourself) videos through the TRRAIN Circle app for them to understand the end-to-end process of modernization. Along with this, registered stores will be able to access counselling, insurance, loan offers and other avenues through the app relevant for growing their business.

The alliance has already reached 20,000 merchants and will cumulatively touch the lives of 80,000 small merchants by 2023.


Through the REVIVE Allaince, Brihati Foundation is supporting 2 batches of farmer cohorts in the state of Gujarat, by providing them with working capital through Returnable Grants as a financial instrument. The farmer cohort funded by Brihati is supported by Somnath Farmers Producer Company as an on-ground implementation partner. The grant was provided in the form of subsidized vouchers to avail agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, seeds etc for their harvesting season.

The farmer cohort’s first batch has been completed with 100% repayment rate. The amounts recovered has now been channelised into supporting another set of farmers. Following are the challenges faced by the Farmers which fueled the need for timely working capital support:

  • Being small scale farmers, each member holds between 2 to 19 acres of land which is used for crop farming or animal husbandry. They usually grow groundnut & cotton crops.
  • Depending on the crop season, farmers reach out to various farmer producer organizations for the supply of agricultural inputs.
  • Due to seasonality, however, most small to marginal farmers remain reliant on money lenders in their regions; to whom they end up paying very high-interest rates.
  • Due to COVID-19, and recent take cyclones caused heavy disruption, leading to  uncertainty of funds and high-interest rates prevailing this year
  • Grant to these farmers allowed them to continue production even in times of crisis
  • In the past, scenarios of high-interest costs have led to inflation of prices; a timely grant aims to mitigate such a situation.

Construction Workers

The infrastructure sector is one of the largest employers of informal labour in urban India, necessitating worker communities to relocate to cities. These workers, often with little to no access to social security, often struggle when confronted with socio-economic challenges. This resurfaced as a challenge when workers such as construction workers, painters, carpenters, masons, etc. were worst hit during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic due to sudden cessation of work, lack of job security and poor social protection. While the government of India responded with provisions of relief payments, reimbursements, DBTs, and other support, access and awareness still remained a major roadblock in bridging the gap between worker communities and the available relief. Moreover, considering the informal and migrant nature of the construction worker cohort, there are erratic support channels to guarantee and handhold each worker to gain access to basic identity documents and social protection schemes. 

Revive strives to facilitate the recovery of worker communities by providing integrated support in terms of social protection. By standardizing the application facilitation process across construction sites and labour colonies, construction workers have been supported with the creation of basic savings accounts, enabling life/accident/health insurance schemes, PAN cards, BOCW (Building and Other Construction Works) and e-Shram cards for the workers to secure their future. This alliance of investors, corporates and developers that are a part of the infrastructure industry, has a common goal of reviving livelihoods within the industry while also adopting better labour practices in the process. These social protection linkages serve as key entry points to workers, such that they are better placed to seek entitlements and are well-informed about his/her social protection eligibility, which further enables them to support their family and extended community. 

Our partnerships with UNDP, the UK government, along with the commendable support received from like-minded funders and implementing partners has allowed us to commit to providing social protection to 8,500+ workers and are on the path to onboarding new cohorts. Our implementation partner, Haqdarshak Empowerment Solutions Pvt. Ltd. has already facilitated linkages across Delhi-NCR and Maharashtra and continues to demonstrate the need for social protection for a cohort as mobile and migrant as construction workers. With active collaborations with HDFC Capital Pvt. Ltd, Info Edge, Sunteck Realty and Shapoorji Pallonji Investment Advisors, we have already facilitated applications for relevant government schemes and ensured end-to-end service delivery of benefits to workers. 

What has been the impact so far?

  • Supporting basic identity documentation: Having witnessed the aftermath of COVID-19 on migrant construction workers accessing entitlements, the need for basic identity documents as critical entry points to social safety nets was reiterated. Revive has been supporting workers with BOCW cards and renewals, e-Shram registrations, updated and linked Aadhaar cards, to name a few, such that they are recognized in the construction ecosystem and formally registered as beneficiaries of government schemes.  
  • Bridging the gap in awareness on basic eligibility: Through the course of the program, workers are oriented to the gamut of schemes that they are eligible for, along with the benefits. With limited literacy and poor awareness about entitlements, Revive strives to equip a worker with foundational information on various scheme offerings to bridge the information asymmetry obstructing benefit access. 
  • Strengthening support channels for workers:  Considering the migrant, construction worker ecosystem and the constant change in employers or contractors, it is tedious for workers to process applications and scheme-related paperwork by themselves. Often, the complexity of the process itself poses a barrier to access. Haqdarshak facilitates applications for each worker, such that there is end-to-end processing of schemes and unlocking of benefits such as Ayushman Bharat (health insurance), PM Suraksha Bima Yojana (accident insurance), PM Jan Dhan Yojana (bank accounts), to name a few.

Blue-Collared Workers

Given the steep hit that the garment industry took due to COVID-19 and the impact it had on the livelihood of garment workers, Arvind Foundation has partnered with Samhita-CGF and impact partner Learnet to provide financial support, re-skilling and placements to ex-Arvind workers who were laid off during the pandemic. Arvind Foundation is the CSR arm of Arvind Ltd, a global player in the textile and apparel manufacturing industry and they became an integral member of the REVIVE alliance – aiming to create a better normal.

Program Structure 


  • Basic job readiness training


  • Identification & mapping of jobs according to the skills and location preference of the selected candidate
  • Collection of placement proofs from employers and KYC documents from candidates 

Returnable Grant:

  • After preliminary KYC and placement verification conducted by Learnet and CGF, the list of candidates and their documents are shared with Supermoney for verification and onboarding
  • After candidates accept terms of the returnable grant through calls conducted by Supermoney, the batch is finalized by CGF 
  • The equivalent amount is transferred from CGF to Supermoney after a round of internal approvals
  • Upon receipt of the transferred amount, the grant worth INR 4,500 is disbursed to the candidates before they receive their first salary
  • After the deferment period of one month, Supermoney sends out repayment reminders and links to the candidates
  • The candidate repays the grant in five instalments of INR 900 each
  • Repayments are collected, reconciled and transferred back to CGF account by Supermoney

What did we learn?


Learnet is a training and placement agency and they have limited connections with the local communities. There is a need for the intervention of a grassroots NGO or organization that can aid mobilization and ensure that the program serves the beneficiaries in need (people who lost jobs on account of the pandemic in this case). 

Learnet, CGF and SuperMoney struggled to reach out to these communities and conduct monitoring/impact assessment after their placements and receipt of RG. The involvement of an intermediary organisation can improve accountability when it comes to repayment and will further streamline the RG related processes. 

Curriculum Design:

Candidates are associated with Learnet for a short span of 4.5 hours and are mapped to a job almost immediately and have very limited connection with them. The curriculum is very basic and does not equip them with the required skill sets. Since the cohort was heterogeneous in terms of their socio-economic background, qualifications and technical skills, Learnet struggled to map the available openings to their skill sets and could not fully satisfy their requirements. There is a need to design a longer upskilling/reskilling program with a focused approach that aims to train candidates to take up job roles that are in demand (Refer reskilling note proposed to Arvind). 

It is also imperative to incorporate financial and digital literacy modules into the curriculum to ensure uptake of digital tools amongst communities. 

Capacity Building:

Training partners are new to hybrid programs including financial instruments like Returnable Grants. There is a need for capacity building of these training partners to improve communication and ensure a seamless flow of clean data. 

Returnable Grant:

These salaried blue-collar workers earn an average salary of INR 10,000 – 12,000 and have the capacity to repay. Based on informed consent and prior assessment of their financial health, e-mandates can be executed for the candidates willing to accept the terms & conditions. Alternatively, suitable channels can be created for candidates who wish to make offline payments (via cash/cheque) and the repayment options should be designed in such a way that it leaves no one behind. Additional support to open bank accounts, correction of KYC particulars and encouraging the community to adopt healthier financial practices and be undertaken by implementing agencies.


The COVID pandemic resulted in the shutting down of a lot of businesses and beauty salons were one of them. The extended lockdowns resulted in low to absolutely nil customer footfall. 

The beauty and personal care market is expected to touch $10 billion by 2021, growing at an annual rate of 5-6%, according to a report by the Indian Beauty & Hygiene Association. However, the majority of beauty and wellness businesses, including salons, spas, and barbershops, fall either in the small and medium enterprise or the unorganised category. This sector employs approximately seven million skill-based professionals, mostly from the weaker sections of society, according to industry estimates. Two out of three employees in the industry are women or migrant workers who have been the worst hit by the extended lockdowns.

When the lockdown was lifted, the entrepreneurs showed a desire to adapt their businesses to the new reality but did not have the resources to do so. Innovative financing in the form of a returnable grant was the solution here. Under the Salon-I program, Godrej became the mentor of these businesses and funded this particular initiative. The entrepreneurs were provided with small ticket sized grants ranging from INR 5000 to INR 20000 which was to be used as working capital to restart and build the resilience of their respective businesses. 

The entrepreneurs had only a moral obligation to repay the grant given to them with the vision that if the money comes back, it will be used to aid more such entrepreneurs in the network. A total of INR 55 lakhs has been disbursed among 472 beautypreneurs so far.

A coalition to create a Better Normal for India’s Working Women and Entrepreneurs

Women@Work is a coalition — of businesses, philanthropies, social organisations and other stakeholders — to drive economic recovery and resilience of low-income women workers and micro entrepreneurs, and enable them to grow and thrive. The goals of Women@Work are aligned to Samhita-CGF’s REVIVE Alliance, a $15 million blended finance platform, supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), Omidyar Network India, British High Commission New Delhi and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Alliance is dedicated to the revival, resilience and growth of India’s informal economy. It is also a part of the U.S.-India Alliance for Women’s Economic Empowerment.

Enabling the Recovery, Resilience and Growth of Women Workers and Micro Entrepreneurs

By bridging the gender gap in the workforce and providing more income opportunities for women, India’s GDP can be increased by a whopping $2.9 trillion. There is ample evidence to prove that enabling the growth and productivity of women has a multiplier effect on the socio-economic outcomes of families, communities and economies. We have also witnessed the same through our work over the years.

The challenges to achieving this increase in female labour force participation are immense, especially due to the limitations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the gains have the potential to push India to the next stage of growth. 

This mission cannot be achieved by any one company or government or stakeholder group. REVIVE Women@Work is a call-to-action for a joint effort to spur the Recovery, Resilience and Growth of Women Workers and Micro Entrepreneurs.

How are we going to create a better normal for working women and microentrepreneurs?

With Women@Work, companies, foundations, social organisations, bilateral and multilateral agencies, through business and CSR channels, will:

To impact India’s women by facilitating their:

Range of Interventions

The Women@Work coalition will leverage technology to maximise opportunities for women at two levels:

  1. Creating a tracking system that will provide evidence on the value of the interventions for the beneficiary. This will enable better decision-making and evidence-backed program design.
  2. Creating a digital profile of the woman, to understand the social products and services required to create a continuum of support. This will enable us to maximise the support available through her life cycle.

Alignment with the REVIVE Alliance and U.S.-India Alliance for Women’s Economic Empowerment

We launched REVIVE to create a pathway to prosperity for the restoration of worker and micro entrepreneur livelihoods. Aspects of Women@Work are supported by the USAID-funded REVIVE Alliance, which launched in October 2020 to focus on economic recovery, predominantly for women and youth.

Women@Work is also a part of the U.S.-India Alliance for Women’s Economic Empowerment, a public-private partnership between USAID, the U.S Department of State, USISPF, and George Washington University, launched by USAID Administrator Samantha Power in September 2021.

Samhita-CGF’s REVIVE Alliance Among 34 Initiatives Worldwide to Receive Support from Impact Challenge

Samhita – CGF has been named one of 34 selected organizations to receive funds from the Impact Challenge for Women and Girls.

The funding will strengthen the efforts Samhita-CGF launched in October 2020 via the REVIVE Alliance, one of the largest private sector and philanthropy-led alliances in India to help facilitate a long-term recovery of the informal sector, with a focus on women, youth, and other marginalized populations, whose livelihoods are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Samhita-CGF is one of 9 Asia-Pacific projects selected for this funding cohort out of nearly 8,000 applications globally. In addition to funding, Samhita-CGF will participate in a four-month accelerator program led by Google’s Accelerator and Women Techmakers communities and Impact Challenge partner Vital Voices to move projects forward.

For His Family’s Happiness

Daud Shaikh, who loves his family and constantly travels across State lines to spend time with them, recently realised how identity documents can add value to his life

In 2011, Daud Shaikh, then an 18-year-old farmer, migrated from his village in Jharkhand to Mumbai. He managed to find work as a construction worker in the city. Ten years on, Daud works as a mason at the Shapoorji Pallonji construction site in Powai, Mumbai. 

Prior to his marriage, he used to stay in the city for one-two years at a stretch. Now a father of three, he shuttles between his village and the city every three-four months despite his economic compulsions. “I usually stay at home for a month or so. I do this for my family’s happiness,” explained Daud. 

Daud’s constant movement across state lines necessitates specific central identity documents like the PAN and Aadhar card to be in place. For a construction worker, a PAN card acts as a vital KYC (Know Your Customer) document and serves as the basis for Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) from the government. It is also beneficial for processing other scheme applications.

As part of the REVIVE Alliance, the UNDP-funded information camp organised by Haqdarshak allowed him to recognise the value in having a PAN card. “I did not have a PAN card before. Other construction workers at my site had one, so I thought I should get one too,” said Daud. The REVIVE team helped facilitate Daud’s application.  

Additionally, the session also exposed Daud to the importance of an updated Aadhaar card, another critical document. His Aadhar card did not have a registered mobile number associated with it, which becomes necessary for any authentication service and serves as the basis for multiple government entitlements. 

The facilitators at the camp helped him with this as well. Even though a small change, an update in Aadhar details will lead to a significant value add for Daud in the future. With the two new linkages, Daud is better placed to access government benefits.

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph