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Sisi supports social enterprise’s efforts to alleviate poverty in India

18 July, 2023

Sisi Gabriela is studying a Master of Public Health at UWA, and recently travelled to Bangalore, India, to support the work of local social enterprise Pollinate Group with underprivileged communities.

Sisi was selected to take part in the Pollinate Group Student Fellowship Program, which is offered twice a year through the McCusker Centre for Citizenship at UWA in partnership with the Pollinate Group, and joined a small team of students from universities in Australia, France and Singapore.

“We were working in very vulnerable communities Pollinate had chosen because other organisations would not or could not help,” Sisi said.

“The Pollinate Group works with women in these communities, and empowers them to be social entrepreneurs who can then make a difference for their whole community; my team was deployed directly to communities to find answers to questions to support this work,

“Our day-to-day activities were to ask our questions and listen to women, with the support of interpreters and Pollinate Group management, then discuss possible solutions and how we could test their feasibility the following day,”

“We were tasked with answering a number of questions - How could Pollinate help the women become better social entrepreneurs, and are there ways to make the process more efficient? Are the products Pollinate Group supplies to communities, like solar lighting, having an actual impact? Is there anything else the community needs to help them address poverty and illiteracy in their community?

Sisi with Pollinate Group CEO and staff, and her student team

Sisi’s team followed the same process for two weeks over June and July, gathering data, formulating solutions, then testing and refining their ideas.

Sisi said that Pollinate’s solar lights, one of the products that women sell to build their businesses, met a clear need in the communities they visited.

“The solar lights make a big difference, as these communities don’t have electricity at all, and it’s very difficult to do anything at night; the tents that people live in are also very dark even during the day,”

Sisi visits a community in Bangalore, India

Another product that is making a difference is an app that can be used to help with bookkeeping for the women’s fledgling businesses.

“With the support of past student volunteers, Pollinate Group developed an app that uses symbols and pictures, allowing illiterate but tech-savvy women to start building their business without forcing them to learn to read and write first,” Sisi said.

Sisi said the experience had further inspired her passion for global health and the community development sector.

“This experience drove me even more to commit to my public health study, knowing that what I learn can help make the world a better place in the future,

“I can stay passionate about health issues as a way to continue as a global citizen - it’s my plan, after my degree, to contribute not just to public health in individual countries, but across regions.”