Co-creating brings results for businesses and rural women

Two of Women on Wings newest experts traveled to India to work alongside business partners. Sales expert Steven Duinhouwer (picture above, 2nd from right) co-created sales strategies with Kalapuri Crafts. Strategy & organizational development expert Ellen Simons, collaborated with Grameena Vikas Kendram Society for Rural Development (GVK) on its next growth step.

There was true co-creation, mutual inspiration and concrete results at play, which mirrors findings from our 2021 impact study of Women on Wings experts and business partners. The study proved that working together is good fun and rewarding for both experts and social entrepreneurs. Mutual learning occurs and as a result they experience growth in their businesses and individual lives.

Sales and chappals at Kalapuri
Steven Duinhouwer visited Kalapuri Crafts with Women on Wings’ joint managing director Ronald van het Hof. They held a three-day intensive sales workshop with its founders Aatish and Aaparna Chavan, Shridhar Vaidya in sales, and Kalapuri’s social media marketers Tushar and Poonam. With its head office in Kolhapur, a town in Maharashtra, Kalapuri offers products created by rural artisans. Kalapuri aims to inspire women from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain new talents and the self-esteem needed to earn money. The women then can bring their new skills and confidence out into the world.

During the workshop, Ronald and Steven explained the customer journeys of Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) audiences. Aatish Chavan (picture, right) said, “Steven also gave a LinkedIn B2B sales workshop. He explained how to use Sales Navigator for accounts and lead acquisition. Together we optimized our LinkedIn page.” On the last day, they discussed the FY 2023-2024 sales plan at length and actions needed for sales, production capacity, design, HR, etc.

Aatish laughed when he added, “To be able to experience the products of Kalapuri, Steven got a pair of the famous handmade Kolhapuri chappals (sandals), that easily could be the largest chappals produced so far. Steven is over 2 meters tall with shoe size 47. The workshop was hard work, great learning and also great fun.”

Women on Wings expert Danielle Pels followed this workshop with an online social media workshop for the B2C segment. She explained how to grow follower numbers on social media, increase e-commerce website traffic and realize sales conversions.

An immediate result in sales
There was a result shortly after the visit when Kalapuri received its first B2B order with three more in negotiation!

Templating growth at GVK
Ellen Simons spent five days with Grameena Vikas Kendram Society for Rural Development in Visakhapatnam, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. GVK designs and implements community-driven initiatives that optimize value for small and marginal tribal farmers. Ellen worked together with Aneel Kumar Ambavaram founder & president, Meenal S. Machan, CEO, Sanne van den Dungen, senior manager of circular supply chains and agriculture, and Sarat Gidda, vice president, on a better structuring of the organization.

Since its start-up phase, GVK is experiencing a rollercoaster growth period and needs to expand the team and delegate in order to achieve their planned next steps. The discussions were intense with GVK’s purpose and values as the leading principle. They also addressed organization, roles, responsibilities, management styles, performance and coordination mechanisms.

Ellen Simons (picture, left) said, “It has been great fun to debate what would successfully work in an Indian context. All kinds of practical examples have been discussed. Some of which would never be put in place in a European context! I was really taken by the friendliness, hospitality, openness and drive I became part of.”

Aneel Kumar Ambavaram (picture, right) added, “This was truly co-creation with a perfect open mind for the Indian context. Ellen was very resourceful and helped us in decluttering the clutter. She delivered a framework of thoughts and templated our growth. She made the overall structure more easy and transparent.”