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