Busanti

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Busanti: Women's Empowerment on Wheels: Driving Social Change

PakistanKarachi, Pakistan
Year Founded:
2013
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

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!

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

We took 2 negatives: lack of access to healthcare & safe transportation for women & created a positive? We did! Busanti - Pakistan’s 1st Women’s Only Public-Health Bus!
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

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? Please 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.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

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: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

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.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

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: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

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.
Team

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.
About You
Organization:
Naya Jeevan
About You
First Name

Seher

Last Name

Hafeez

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Naya Jeevan

Organization Country

, Karachi

Country where this project is creating social impact

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Project
Year founded

2013

Impact
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date?

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.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Potential Roadblocks:
Security: We anticipate that some male miscreants may attempt to board these female-only buses. However to prevent this scenario, each bus driver is trained to diffuse situations, we have created linkages with local enforcements agencies and we have considered having an armed male security guard with 24/7 emergency back-up support of a professional security agency for the pilot.
Fuel: Most buses in Pakistan run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to petroleum/gasoline and diesel. However, the supply of CNG in Pakistan has been unreliable with sporadic CNG rationing. This could potentially hamper streamlined operations unless there is an effective mechanism to store the CNG in special storage tanks. Fortunately, Daewoo has made special arrangements for continuous supply of CNG to avert a fuel shortage.

Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

Buses: We anticipate building a national fleet of ~300-400 Busantis with an initial focus on the major urban centers of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad (~70 buses in Karachi, 50 in Lahore and 30 in Rawalpindi/Islamabad).
Commuters: Employers (informal and formal) will be engaged and encouraged to enroll their female workers in the monthly bus pass (with health insurance embedded in the pass) Each bus plan will be activated on a mobile banking platform that provides female commuters with access to mobile financial services including digital payment transfers and mobile savings. The bus pass also provides employers with an easy way to monitor usage and offers peace of mind that their money is being spent where intended.
Social: The branded buses will be noticeable on the road but we plan on driving public service campaigns also to create education, awareness for women’s empowerment and to promote the bus.
Government: Busanti will lobby both municipal and provincial governments as well as the Pakistani government to enter into a public-private-philanthropic partnership in which the public sector can help subsidize commuting costs for the ultra-poor (accessed via a poverty scoreboard that is linked to the National Identity Card number of each worker).
Private Sector: Through the ‘Brand a Bus’ program we hope to bring the Private Sector on-board and to have them drive more CSR and advertising dollars towards the buses which will provide more mileage for brands as well as bring more innovations and value to Busanti. Retaining women in the Private Sector is also a challenge and since this solution affects working women who employ domestic staff in their homes- we hope that companies will take more interest in promoting and even co-financing Busanti.
Youth: Young women have issues accessing schools/internships etc. Upon success of the pilot, we hope that more families will feel comfortable and allow their daughter to commute on Busanti.

Sustainability
Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

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.

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

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). Busanti 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’ which means a carriage driver.

Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

The following organizations are currently partnering with Busanti:
Naya Jeevan Health Quest
Daewoo
Telenor Easy paisa (Mobile Financial Services)
SRDO
Naval Housing Authority
Defense Housing Authority
Google
*We have also recruited key brands that cater and market to women who will be paying for the ‘Brand A Bus.’ The names of these brands will be announced as we get ready to launch the pilot

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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