Women driving for women in Delhi

New Delhi has become unsafe for women. The newspapers are frequently flooded with news of molestation, rape, murder, eve-teasing and what not. Recently working women have been victims of cab drivers. It is this fear that prevents women from working outside homes and is a persistent cause of anxiety for guardians also.

Before you make any choices, rethink because you can continue working by taking on an option called ‘Sakha’. In 2008, Meenu Vadera founded ‘Sakha’, a cab service run by women for women. Her aim is to provide safe cab and chauffeur services to women in Delhi by training women. These chauffeurs are women belonging to the marginalised communities.

Ms. Vadera initially worked closely with ‘Start Up’, an angel investor for social entrepreneurs, to develop an award-winning business plan and create a non-profit arm of Sakha called ‘the Azad Foundation’. The foundation focuses on providing young women from disadvantaged urban communities with the training and support they need to navigate the formidable Delhi streets. The Azad Foundation provides a 4-6 month long training programme that covers everything from self-defence to changing tires.

Over the course of one and a half years, ‘Start Up’ worked closely with Ms. Vadera to assess consumer demand, develop and facilitate strategic partnerships. In 2010, ‘Start Up’ helped Sakha win the Women in Business Challenge Award, attaining a much-needed cash prize of 15,000 Euros.

Till April 2011, Sakha and the Azad Foundation have been able to train 70 women, 18 who are employed as private chauffeurs and four who are pioneers of the Sakha cab service.

Ms. Vadera maintains that Sakha is more than a company. In establishing Sakha, Ms. Vadera aimed at breaking the stereotypical image of women and prompt people to alter their mindsets towards them.

Although in inception only, Sakha and the Azad Foundation have undoubtedly changed many mindsets in their customers as well as the underprivileged communities which comprises their work force.

The women working in Sakha could not have thought of earning Rs. 5000 to Rs. 7500 per month. The work training has made them confident and has empowered them financially. They have undergone transformation from bread makers to bread winners for the family.

Things are really coming up for Sakha. There was a time when Ms. Janardhan had to persuade her customers about women as chauffeurs but now she maintains a long list of customers who are willing to hire Sakha chauffeurs.