Herbalife and Shishu Mandir Launch “Eco-Wheels Women’s Initiative”, Empowering 115 Women with E-Autos

These 115 e-autos will benefit over 750 individuals, with each woman receiving one e-auto

Bengaluru, July 7, 2024: Herbalife, in partnership with Shishu Mandir, launched the “Eco-Wheels Women’s Initiative” at an event held in Bengaluru, marking a significant step towards women’s empowerment and sustainable livelihoods. Ajay Khanna, Managing Director of Herbalife India, presented 50 E-Autos to the beneficiaries. The event was graced by the esteemed presence of Mrs. Manjula Aravind Limbavali, MLA of Mahadevapura Constituency, and Dr. Hella Mundhra, Founder of Shishu Mandir.

The “Eco-Wheels Women’s Initiative” aims to support marginalized women by providing opportunities for economic independence and skill development. The beneficiaries of the E-Auto project are women who have endured severe abuse or abandonment, are widowed, or struggle to provide even the necessities for their children. These resilient women include single mothers, spouses of alcoholics and abusers, and those living below the poverty line without adequate shelter.

Ajay Khanna reaffirmed Herbalife’s unwavering support for Shishu Mandir’s mission, emphasizing the importance of sustainable and impactful CSR initiatives. Beneficiaries of the program shared their transformative experiences, highlighting how the initiative has helped them gain economic independence and uplift themselves from below-poverty conditions.

Herbalife, known globally for its charitable initiatives, has sponsored 115 e-autos. The support extends beyond vehicles, as they have also sponsored the training of 50 female drivers, helping them secure their licenses. Additionally, Herbalife has supported school children with essential items such as T-shirts, water bottles, and boxes, easing the financial strain on their families.

Speaking on this partnership, Mr. Ajay Khanna, Managing Director of Herbalife India, said, “At Herbalife, our commitment to elevate communities through our CSR initiatives is deeply personal. Each project brings us closer to the impact we aspire to create. The Eco Wheels Women initiative stands out for its dual focus, as it empowers women and embraces environmental sustainability. We are committed to diversity and inclusivity, and this project enables over 115 women and LGBTQ individuals, providing them with economic stability and independence. By introducing electric autos for last-mile connectivity, we reduce emissions and noise pollution, aligning with government efforts to promote electric vehicles. As we celebrate 25 years in India, we remain dedicated to launching more projects that uplift families from poverty and encourage positive change in the community.”

Mr. Anand C, Director of Shishu Mandir, added, “Our E-Auto program represents a beacon of hope for marginalized women and transgender individuals. The transformation we witness in these individuals is profound, moving from desperation to dignity and self-reliance. Herbalife’s unwavering support has been instrumental in this journey, and together, we are creating lasting change. Our partnership exemplifies the power of collaboration in driving social impact and community empowerment. We look forward to continuing this journey and touching more lives in the future.”

Since the program’s inception on April 13, 2022, eight batches of E-Auto drivers have been trained, with each batch growing in number. Shishu Mandir’s social workers meticulously verify each application, ensuring that only those truly in need receive support. Rigorous training sessions follow, beginning with car simulator exercises and progressing to hands-on practice with skilled trainers. Once on the road, continuous support ensures compliance with program requirements, and regular upkeep workshops maintain the E-Autos in good condition. Over 87 women now proudly drive these E-Autos, embodying the success of a program that nurtures their holistic needs through an ongoing support network.

Training Women in Four-Wheeler Driving

The Shishu Mandir Driving School trains women in four-wheeler driving, which enables them to become E-Auto or cab drivers. Shishu Mandir provides 50 hours of training for each woman, teaching them to navigate the city using Google Maps. The goal is to empower 100 women in one year. Currently, 50 women who have been trained and received their licenses are waiting to transition from low-paid jobs to driving E-Autos. The organization aims to train another 50 women before the end of this financial year, and seeks support to purchase E-Autos for them. The cost of training 50 women is approximately Rs. 500,000, which includes trainers’ salaries and fuel, with existing cars used for training. For this financial year, Shishu Mandir looks forward to Herbalife’s support to buy 150 E-Autos.

Providing E-Autos for Women

In the past five years, the Shishu Mandir Driving School has trained over 900 men and women. After COVID, the focus shifted towards women. Initially reluctant to take up driving jobs, more women have begun to come forward, encouraged by the success of the first five E-Autos bought in collaboration with the Rotary Club. Currently, 17 women, including two transgender persons, drive E-Autos provided by Shishu Mandir.

Shishu Mandir ensures donor branding on the autos, with one-year free servicing provided by the manufacturing company. Maintenance costs are minimal, and a savings scheme through Women Sangas helps drivers save for future needs such as battery replacements. The E-Autos are registered in the driver’s name, making them the rightful owner. The insurance, tax, and other administrative tasks are borne by Shishu Mandir. Charging stations have been set up at the Shishu Mandir campus, with plans to establish more stations with Mahindra’s support.

Benefits for Women and Community

The women, who previously earned less than Rs. 10,000 per month, now earn approximately Rs. 30,000 per month, allowing them to improve their living conditions and provide better education for their children. E-Autos are environmentally friendly, reducing emissions and noise pollution. Women drivers are preferred for safety, especially for transporting school children and assisting elderly passengers with medical appointments.

Environmental Impact

Mahindra’s 3-Wheeler Electric vehicles have saved significant amounts of CO2 emissions and fuel, contributing to a greener future. Each E-Auto contributes to reducing emissions and promoting environmental sustainability.

The initiative’s direct beneficiaries include 115 women and their families, totalling approximately 750 individuals. Over the next five years, these families will rise above the poverty line, earning a collective Rs. 180,000,000. Indirect beneficiaries include the public who use these E-Autos, motivated by the women drivers to pursue driving as a profession, potentially inspiring over 1,500 women in the coming years.

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