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SEWA and the Pennsylvania State University’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program. Our introductions, expertise, and capabilities. Who we are. Penn State HESE India Group.

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SEWA and the Pennsylvania State University’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program

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SEWA and the Pennsylvania State University’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program

Our introductions, expertise, and capabilities

Who we are

Penn State HESE India Group

  • We are a small group of undergraduate and graduate students working at the Pennsylvania State University to create innovative and sustainable solutions for the women of SEWA under the guidance of Khanjan and ChanakyaMehta

  • We have been focusing on health, nutrition and transformative education as a means of providing value in the lives of the women of SEWA

AnjanaSinhaCurrently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Immunology and Infectious Diseases"To do more for the world than the world does for you - that is success.”—Henry Ford

Alice Cheng

Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering with minors in Chinese and Engineering Leadership Development

Lance Joseph

Technical expert with IT and Computer Science experience

“If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”—Carl Sagan

Judah Ciervo

Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Bio-behavioral Health with minors in Neuroscience and Global Health

Sally Mouakkad

Currently pursuing a Master of International Affairs degree

Holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Irvine

Bridget Dougher

Currently pursuing a Master of International Affairs degree

Holds a Master of Business Administration degree in Project Management and Services Management from the University of Dallas

Holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance from the University of Pittsburgh

Ideas we are exploring for collaboration with SEWA

Our research and rationale for exploring these ideas

Ventures of interest


Problem: Micronutrient Deficiencies and Protein-energy Malnutrition

A report by the World Bank entitled India’s Undernourished Children: A Call for Reform and Action indicates the following:

  • The most prevalent micronutrient deficiencies are currently Vitamin A and the minerals Iodine and Iron.

  • Nutrition programs in India are not currently targeting children under 3.

Nutritional Intervention

  • These findings suggest that a grassroots level initiative is desperately needed

    • To raise awareness about these deficiencies

    • To spread the knowledge of which indigenous food products can supply these essential nutrients

  • Properly addressing this need requires an increased public awareness of its existence and urgency

  • Success with this endeavor is attainable by using existing social marketing techniques and distribution systems for these purposes

Potential Solution: RUDI Snacks

  • A healthy snack that addresses essential micronutrient needs can compliment the current selection of RUDI food products

  • Such a snack would be designed to suit the Gujarati palate

  • Snack development would be in collaboration with the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI)

Distribution Network Learning Experiences

  • SEWA Bazaar demonstrates recognition of the need to provide nourishing foods

  • SEWA Bazaar’s challenges demonstrate the complexity of the issues surrounding this need

  • A new strategy can enhance SEWA’s ability to address this nutritional need

Distribution Networks: SEWA RUDI

  • 5 RUDI processing centres

  • Three villages coordinate through one village hub

  • Storage, processing and distribution at the village level

  • Village hubs supply district level hubs for strategic distribution

  • This existing distribution system can be leveraged to support a new nutritional venture

Transformative Education


Women had no identity or visibility


SEWA provides ID cards to women to increase morale and livelihood

Women have voice to speak out

In the future...

Women can place certain skills on their ID cards that are accessible through a database

Credit can be checked for use in microfinance institutions

ID cards can identify skill sets


45% of midwives (dais) were illiterate

13% completed government or SEWA sponsored training

67% of rural births occur at home with a dai


SEWA sponsored midwife training teaches women crucial delivery skills

In the future...

Midwife certification through SEWA should be publicized through community in order to establish trust and set standard (help women earn higher wages)

SEWA training should include basic literacy

Midwife certification increases value


Marginal farming households earned less than Rs.32,500 annually and hold less than 5 acres of land


Cooperative allows women farmers' income to increase from an average of Rs.5,000 to as much as Rs.15,000 per year

In the future:

Crop rotation education

Health information about raising livestock

Obtaining loans for livestock and understanding property laws

How-to's on new technology 

Diversifying crop grown, improving diet and nutrition 

Agriculture education increases profit


Water campaign in 1995 allowed women to identify sources of water

Gujarat is chronically water deficient

Soil salinity is an issue

Lack of available clean drinking water

High fluoride content

In the future...

Educate women to build fog/dew harvester or solar stills

Increase potable water supply for community or single households

Harvesters help resolve water scarcity


Inefficient stoves cause women to spend 3-4 hours per day and Rs.350 per month obtaining firewood

Project Urja encourages solar and bio-gas cooking and lighting devices

Women earn Rs.50 per day more with solar lights that increase productivity

In the future...

Classes teach women to build their own solar panels

Skills learned can carry over to other households and enhance others’ livelihood

Solar energy increases productivity 

Food Hygiene in India

  • Tap water is not drinkable, only bottles

  • Fresh produce washed by tap water can cause digestive problems

  • Foreigners regularly become ill from poor food sanitation

  • Food left out at buffets is often unsafe, freshly cooked food is preferable

  • A diet high in fruit and yogurt is needed to help protect the digestive system from unsanitary foods

  • A transformative education project focused on sanitary food preparation and storage methods can improve the livelihoods and well-being of producers and consumers

How can we use SEWA’s existing Community Learning Center (CLC) structure to initiate and execute these ventures?

Where to begin: the Clc

Areas of interest where we would like more information

Questions for sewa

Questions on Individual Connectivity

  • What are the most popular cell phone models among SEWA members and community partners? What is the prevalence of cell phones compared to MP3 players?

  • Who are the popular providers of cell phone service and what plans (contract/non-contract) are most widely used?

  • Do consumers typically get their phones from the providers themselves or through third-party markets? How often and why do consumers switch between cell phones and service providers?

  • How much would someone typically spend for a cell phone? Will they spend more for a phone capable of audio/music playback?

Questions on Infrastructure

  • How much bandwidth is available at each of the CLCs? Is there a monthly limit or are the CLCs allowed to download as much content (unlimited) as they want?

  • How much instantaneous bandwidth is there (KB/s) for downloading/uploading through the broadband connection?

  • Would local community members be interested in creating audio content that would be used to teach others in return for compensation?

We eagerly look forward to further developing our partnership!

Thank you

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