The Upaya Story: Dairy Cows and Dignified Jobs

Note from the Editor: This is a guest post written by Steve Schwartz, Director of Strategy & Operations for one of Jolkona’s newest partners, Upaya Social Ventures.

A few weeks back, we introduced Upaya Social Ventures’s work building businesses with the ability to create jobs and improve the quality of life for families living on less than $1.25 a day. Today, we want to take a look at Samridhi, a business that is building community dairies to create jobs and stabilize income for families in Uttar Pradesh, one of the poorest states in India

The majority of Uttar Pradesh’s ultra poor are dependent on subsistence farming as their main occupation, and individual dairy farmers are reliant on exploitative middlemen who routinely underpay for perishable milk. Where Samridhi can create real change is by connecting poor milk producers directly to the emerging formal dairy supply chain. Every one of Samridhi’s dairy operations creates 93 jobs, each providing an extremely poor woman with a guaranteed paycheck. Employees also receive training in all stages of the production process, including milk collection, quality testing, cooling and distribution. Based on current projections, Samridhi will be able to self-fund its expansion to five dairy units in the next three years, creating nearly 500 jobs from Upaya’s one-time investment of seed capital.

However, although we’ve created these jobs, we can’t just assume that households will see dramatic improvements in their quality of life. So that’s why Upaya works closely with the Samridhi team to benchmark and track the progress of women working throughout the organization. Each household is continuously evaluated across a series of indicators (sample table below), and the business are able to adjust operations or add services to ensure that these families are making progress out of poverty.

Samridhi is the first partner to join Upaya’s Life-changing Interventions for the Ultra Poor (LiftUP) Project, a 24–36 month business accelerator program for start-up social enterprises focused on the ultra poor. The total cost for getting Samridhi off the ground is $100,000, which initially breaks down to $500 per job. However, profits from the initial dairy operation will be used to build the second, third and fourth — each creating nearly 100 jobs for ultra poor households and dramatically multiplying the impact of donors’ contributions.

Upaya first began raising funds to work with Samridhi in early August, and has already raised $66,000 for the project — over half of what is needed to fully launch the dairy initiative. Donors who contribute through the Jolkona platform are given the opportunity to track the progress of Samridhi employees across specific social metrics, and see their contribution making real change in the lives of Samridhi employees. Be a champion of change; give here.

About the author: Steve is the Director of Strategy & Operations for Upaya Social Ventures, and is one of the organization’s co-founders.  In a career that has run from Wall St. to the footpaths of smuggling routes in West Africa, Steve has long held the belief that all people deserve the opportunity to live their lives with dignity and means.



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