Impact of Women on Wings’ work is reciprocal

Dutch experts from Women on Wings who create jobs for women in rural India are in turn enriched by the Indian entrepreneurs with social and sustainable knowledge and insights. The impact of Women on Wings’ work is reciprocal: the entrepreneurs and experts learn from and inspire each other which clearly adds value in India and in the Netherlands. This is the outcome of independent research by Prastut Consulting. Its report was presented on Friday 15 October – International Day of Rural Women – to Ingrid Thijssen, President of VNO-NCW, the Confederation of Netherlands’ Industry and Employers.

Social mission
Besides creating jobs for women, the work of Women on Wings has a much broader impact. Recent research among experts and entrepreneurs shows a reciprocal effect: The experts support social entrepreneurs in India to bring more business to their companies, the entrepreneurs inspire the experts to introduce a social mission in their work in the Netherlands. “The work in India enriches the experts and it does the same with the entrepreneurs. It gives more meaning in life, both on a personal and professional level,” says Maria van der Heijden, Director at CSR Netherlands and co-founder of Women on Wings.

Making Netherlands more sustainable
Ingrid Thijssen, President of VNO-NCW: “It is wonderful to see how entrepreneurs inspire each other and thus contribute to the growth of employment for women in India. With almost 300,000 jobs, Women on Wings really makes a lasting impact and also contributes to the growth and development of Dutch entrepreneurs who find new inspiration. That matches our new course and adds to broad prosperity.” Sandra Lansbergen is co-director of Arte Viva B.V. and since 2016 one of the Women on Wings experts. She confirms Ingrid’s reaction: “The entrepreneurs I work with as an expert in India are much further along in the field of sustainability than I had expected. The degree of re-use, upcycling and recycling of waste is impressive. It motivated me to do further research on this and to introduce it in my own company in the Netherlands.”

More pragmatic
In addition to professional knowledge, entrepreneurs in India also acquire personal skills through interaction with the Women on Wings experts. As a result, they approach entrepreneurship more pragmatically and with more confidence, energy and satisfaction. “As a small organization we weren’t very focused and we mostly did things ad hoc. Thanks to the input of Women on Wings’ experts, we were able to transform our company into a professional organization and we now look at our work differently.” – Sheela Powell, founder of Shalom, a social enterprise that sells textile products with unique embroidery made by women of the Tody tribe of South India.

Cultural context
The research indicates that the experts also return from India with many new knowledge and skills, because they work in a completely different socio-cultural and professional context. Maria adds: “Our experts gain more self-confidence, energy and patience. They look at situations with an open mind and look for solutions from a new point of view. They see more clearly what privileges they have and are more focused on fellow human beings and society. This makes them feel richer and happier.”

The detailed Impact Assessment Report by Prastut Consulting, with all outcomes on the various impact indicators used for this assessment among social entrepreneurs and experts involved with Women in Wings can be found here.

Photo@Jeroen Poortvliet: Maria van der Heijden (left) and Ingrid Thijssen