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Saoirse works with women entrepreneurs in India to help communities tackle poverty and pollution

27 February, 2023

UWA student, Saoirse Torr, has her sights set on future work in the not-for-profit and development sectors, after returning from the McCusker Centre for Citizenship’s Pollinate Student Fellowship Program in Bangalore, India.

During her four-week Fellowship Saoirse undertook research with Pollinate, working directly with women in the community to support women entrepreneurs through the sale of Pollinate products and services, including solar powered light systems to help replace kerosene lamps in homes.

“Getting everyone’s input through the interview process was essential,” she said.

“The interviewees were very enthusiastic and wanted to be heard – everyone was very welcoming,

“Our interviews led to recommendations to help women use the Pollinate app independently, and to help increase digital literacy to grow their business,

“Our final reports presented to Pollinate suggested further initiatives women in the community would like to see like local banking and career advisory services,” she said.

Saoirse reflected on the confronting effects of poverty she observed in Bangalore, as well as the hope she had in seeing positive change.

“The most challenging aspect of the fellowship was witnessing the evident disparity between the poor and wealthy - many people we spoke to earned less than two dollars a day and did not have access to electricity, running water or gas,

“Organisations like Pollinate and the local government are working with communities to provide solutions to these problems, and they are making improvements over time,”

As well as providing valuable research to help inform and improve Pollinate’s work, the fellowship experience has had an impact on Saoirse’s plans for the future.

“It showed me the determination, hope and enthusiasm that exists in many people, despite tackling seemingly insurmountable issues and extreme poverty,” she said.

“I hope to complete my Juris Doctor at UWA and use my skillset to contribute to change through the legal sector,”

Saoirse said she would recommend the program to other students.

“The Fellowship represents the power of collaboration across borders.”