Busanti

Busanti

Women's Empowerment on Wheels: Driving Social Change

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Last Update: February 17, 2014

Busanti meets women at the corner of Social & Technological Innovation, bridging two unaddressed market needs, safe transport and healthcare for women. Busanti, Pakistan’s first 'public health' bus service will provide millions of low-income women a safe and dignified vehicle for transport while offering them education on preventive health via animated videos on board. Commuters will also have access to a 24/7 health-line for women. Busanti can be is accessed via a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model or the pioneer ‘smart-card’ bus pass which employers can subsidize and embed with health insurance. Busanti also offers women’s brands a way to ‘Brand a Bus,’ giving them more mileage for their brands!

Founded: 2013

The Problem

As the global lens fell on New Delhi last year, an old, yet overlooked issue, safe transport for women, came to light. In the face of one woman’s tragedy, realities of millions of urban-poor women were unveiled. Accessibility to healthcare is already in crisis in Pakistan and to top it off, these women further risk their lives as they commute to work. Physical, sexual and psychological harassment are norms that accompany them every day. Work, unlike healthcare, is a priority and a matter of survival, and these women have no other choice than unsafe, unreliable, untimely transport…or do they?

The Solution

Busanti is Pakistan’s first 'public health' bus service for women. It is aimed at providing a safe, dignified and affordable way to travel to work and back. While it will cost the same as other forms of public transport, it circumvents negative tolls such as sexual and psychological harassment that are faced by women daily. On a social level, Busanti offers many options for healthcare. During their commute, women are exposed to health awareness and education via multi-media platforms. All commuters are given access to a 24/7 health line dedicated to Women’s Health. While women can choose a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model, Busanti offers a ‘smart card’ bus pass which allows employers to pre-pay and gives women access to a health care insurance plan. Conveniently, buses stop at network hospitals and providers along the way. Mobile technology is also onboard and will provide commuters with access to SMS-based financial services including digital payments and mobile savings. ‘Brand a Bus’ is an alternate revenue scheme that invites brands who already cater to women to literally brand a bus. Therefore providing these with an alternative vehicle to market and thus drive their brands.

Example

Saira is a 22-year old maid who commutes daily to DHA, Karachi (an affluent suburb) from Qayyumabad (a nearby urban slum). Saira often arrives at her workplace stressed out and in tears. As one of only a handful of female commuters crammed into a bus full of men, she is taunted, leered at and sometimes even groped at. During peak hours it can take her 2 hours to commute each way as there is no room for women on the bus while men can sit on top of the bus and fit inside. As a result, Saira tries to take a rickshaw as often as she can (cost:$3/ride) but on her $100/month wage, that is not a sustainable option for her. Her husband and in-laws are already taunt her about not making enough money and taking so long to come home at night and her stressful ‘interaction’ with men on her daily commute just adds fuel to their fiery discontent. Saira’s husband is unemployed and makes frequent remarks that she has had ‘inappropriate contact’ with other men questioning her whereabouts. This is the unfortunate reality of many urban-poor women not only in Pakistan but across the MENA region.

Impact

Quantitative: Research studies conducted by LUMS and IBA students in Karachi and Lahore have indicated that both women and their employers will participate in this new scheme and that they are even willing to pay up to 40% more of the fare if commuters were guaranteed a safer, more dignified experience and if this could cut down on commute times. For the pilot, Daewoo has offered to provide 15 buses to test in urban centers in Karachi as well as a team of gender-sensitized bus drivers and female bus conductors for each bus. Naya Jeevan has started working with 2 Community Residential Areas, Naval Housing Society (NHS) and Defense Housing Authority (DHA) to promote the pilot and to pre-enroll women through an employer sponsored program that will facilitate a pre-paid bus-pass and also provide these women (and optional dependents) with a health insurance plan. A dedicated team has been assigned to support the 24/7 health line for women. Telenor is developing the smart-card bus-pass using mobile-technology that will provide female commuters with access to SMS-based financial services including digital payment transfers and mobile savings. We have run 3 focus-groups with key women’s brands who have agreed to pay to ‘Brand a Bus’ and collectively come up with alternate ways to use the bus during off-peak hours such as for brand activation activities (in malls, schools, etc), for workshops and customer engagement (Mammogram-on-Wheels for a particular brand that is related to Breast Cancer), for product sampling. Qualitative: 1.Gender inclusion for low-income women in the workplace (providing women with a vehicle to access the workplace safely and timely). 2.Promote Women’s Empowerment and Wellness. 3.Expansion of health awareness and education. 4.Quality and affordable health programs: Support of employers/sponsors of low-income women to enroll their employees/beneficiaries into a multipurpose monthly bus pass/health insurance plan. 5.Positive social impact for women in context of career, family & community. 6.Business and product development – ‘Brand a Bus’ Initiative.

Budget: $250,000 - $500,000

Financial Sources

Sustainability Plan

Busanti will operate on a pay-as-you-go revenue model which is aligned with existing bus fares on local co-ed buses. Daewoo will be supplying initial buses for the pilot thus reducing the aquisition cost. For every dollar of passenger revenue that is generated, 60 cents are dedicated to covering the operational costs of the bus service (fuel, maintenance, personnel salaries, etc). The remaining 40 cents will be split with 15 cents going to Daewoo and 25 cents to NAYA JEEVAN (which will help finance the video messaging and delivery of health services, etc.) ‘Brand a Bus’ is an alternate revenue stream which will allow for capacity development, marketing, building value-adds, innovations.

Marketplace

The ‘Pink bus’ was a women’s only bus that was introduced by the Punjab government as an innovative public-private partnership in 2010. It failed to take off because the administration was unable to enforce a women only policy which essentially converted it into a regular public bus. More recently, in 2012, the Punjab government introduced an express metro bus service that has been more successful along a major vertical axis in Lahore. Daewoo has had tremendous success in Pakistan with its express inter-city bus service which has expanded nationwide over the past 15 years. It now plans to replicate this success by launching Busanti, Pakistan’s first intra-city metro bus service for women in Karachi.

Founding Story

Busanti literally came to life in our lunchroom where staff discussion somehow always comes back to work-life-family balance. In the last year, Karachi saw lots of changes and with each event (the elections, strikes, YouTube ban, political unrest). Roads and bus services were always the first to be affected during these troubled times. Employees at work would leave to go home to make sure our domestic staff (nannies, cooks, maids) could leave early and get home safely thus affecting everyone’s work schedules. The entire team at Naya Jeevan including men dressed up in Burqas and ventured out on the streets in order to really understand the dillema faced by the urban poor women when it came to public transport. This exercise gave us empathy as we discovered first hand what women go through and we therefore took it upon oursleves to come up with a solution. Then of course the New Delhi bus rape incident left everyone speechless but ready to take action! Busanti means ‘spring’ in Urdu/Hindi and is a symbol for renewal and life. Busanti is also an icon from Bollywood (from the 1976 blockbuster movie Sholay). She depicted a strong, confident woman who spoke her mind and commanded respect from society. She lived in a village where she literally drove change as she was the only woman ‘tange wali’ or carriage driver.

Team Members

Challenges

Women Powering Work: Innovations for Economic Equality in the MENA Region

Innovation

Elevator Pitch: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences. Share a concise summary. This will be the first introductory text about your solution that viewers will see.

Busanti meets women at the corner of Social & Technological Innovation, bridging two unaddressed market needs, safe transport and healthcare for women. Busanti, Pakistan’s first 'public health' bus service will provide millions of low-income women a safe and dignified vehicle for transport while offering them education on preventive health via animated videos on board. Commuters will also have access to a 24/7 health-line for women. Busanti can be is accessed via a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model or the pioneer ‘smart-card’ bus pass which employers can subsidize and embed with health insurance. Busanti also offers women’s brands a way to ‘Brand a Bus,’ giving them more mileage for their brands!

Problem: What problem is this solution trying to solve? Describe the specific context within which this solution operates.

As the global lens fell on New Delhi last year, an old, yet overlooked issue, safe transport for women, came to light. In the face of one woman’s tragedy, realities of millions of urban-poor women were unveiled. Accessibility to healthcare is already in crisis in Pakistan and to top it off, these women further risk their lives as they commute to work. Physical, sexual and psychological harassment are norms that accompany them every day. Work, unlike healthcare, is a priority and a matter of survival, and these women have no other choice than unsafe, unreliable, untimely transport…or do they?

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Be specific!

Busanti is Pakistan’s first 'public health' bus service for women. It is aimed at providing a safe, dignified and affordable way to travel to work and back. While it will cost the same as other forms of public transport, it circumvents negative tolls such as sexual and psychological harassment that are faced by women daily. On a social level, Busanti offers many options for healthcare. During their commute, women are exposed to health awareness and education via multi-media platforms. All commuters are given access to a 24/7 health line dedicated to Women’s Health. While women can choose a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model, Busanti offers a ‘smart card’ bus pass which allows employers to pre-pay and gives women access to a health care insurance plan. Conveniently, buses stop at network hospitals and providers along the way. Mobile technology is also onboard and will provide commuters with access to SMS-based financial services including digital payments and mobile savings. ‘Brand a Bus’ is an alternate revenue scheme that invites brands who already cater to women to literally brand a bus. Therefore providing these with an alternative vehicle to market and thus drive their brands.

Women Powering Work

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following challenges?

Other

Does your project utilize any of the strategies below?

Providing practical education or resources along with your main project, such as financial literacy, family planning, day-care, counseling, and more

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