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Turning Trash into Social Value: Can a Private Sector Model Work for Poor Women in India?

January 31, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am


Center for Global Development


Mayra Buvinic, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development

Nedra Dickson, Global Supplier Diversity and Sustainability Lead, Accenture

Henriette Kolb, Head of the Gender Secretariat, International Finance Corporation

Elizabeth Vazquez, President, CEO and Co-Founder, WEConnect International

Melanne Verveer, Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security


Rajesh Mirchandani, Vice-President of Communication and Policy Outreach, Center for Global Development

Women are overrepresented in the informal sector worldwide, often stuck in dangerous, insecure, low-paid jobs. Waste picking in particular is a highly vulnerable and risky form of informal employment. In 1995, India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) organized women waste pickers in Ahmedabad into a cooperative to improve their working conditions and livelihoods. Over time, this informal arrangement evolved into Gitanjali – a women-owned and -run social enterprise, that produces a full range of stationery products for large multinational corporations, including Staples, IBM, and Goldman Sachs.

What difference has Gitanjali made to the lives and opportunities of women waste pickers in India? What are the implications for women’s social enterprises in other countries? What are the challenges that remain to be overcome? The Center for Global Development is delighted to bring together some of the key private sector partners that helped Gitanjali generate social value, along with practitioners from the public sector and multilateral financial institutions, for a robust discussion about job options for poor women in low paid, informal occupations, including a model entrepreneurship venture. The event will be informed by the CGD report, The Gitanjali Cooperative: A Social Enterprise in the Making.

Copies of the report’s executive summary will be provided. Light refreshments will be available.

Center for Global Development
2055 L St, NW – Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20036