What it takes to build an empowered community

Why were the communities built ? Did someone actually start the trend right in the beginning of time? Or were they formed because human beings are social by nature! We are driven by goals which often echo as a common goal, when like minds come together. A group of people doesn’t form a community till there is a common thread of thoughts, willingness and purpose, that binds them together. Tribes were formed for survival. But each tribe developed an unique culture through the practices, the group involved. In time, communities moved beyond every boundaries and semantics with the internet changing the game. Online portals were initially formed for interest , then moved to need , hence emerged the ‘Community of Product’ and ‘Community of Practices’. When millions of people joined in to contribute to a discussion, the term ‘Crowdsource’ lost itself to the value created. Contributions driven by the need to help others, even without an identity which became an order of the day. Offline communities had a purpose to serve with the members interacting through regular meet-ups. Corporates initially used communities to build loyal consumers but moved to social and green world, responding to the environmental changes. Are there any other pattern through which communities have evolved? Let’s find out what builds a community!

On 4th of March The Mentorprenuers organised Women Power 2nd Edition at IIT Bombay. I feel honoured to share that I was invited to moderate the panel on ‘Growth Hacking in Business: Building Empowered Community. The speakers to my panel were Revathi Roy, Founder DeeDee and Vira cabs, Riddhi Doshi Founder Lajja, Neha Kare Founder UniMO and Neha Aggarwal Community Outreach Baby Chakra.

It was interesting to note how these offline and online communities were formed and why. Revathi Roy shared, she loved to drive and felt the need of women drivers even when it was unheard of. Hence, her service started way back in 2007, making her a pioneer. She built the community of close knit drivers who came from the social background with little and bare minimum income. For her it was an ordeal to convince them and then train. However, looking back she holds a numero uno position with the largest numbers of trained and professional women drivers. She went through challenge when the policy on driving license was suddenly changed last year. But then, she used it to turn the tide for the best. She used the gold mine of the trained drivers to build Hey Didi or Deedee as it is called now. Here she offers last mile delivery with the same women drivers. She offered everyone a two-wheeler on a loan with no collaterals attached. The amount was deducted from their salaries. In case you are wondering why this service is important, well we have cases where the delivery boys were either attacked or attacked the lone living women! Here’s an advertisement to support the point on how such women drivers and last mile delivery by women is making the world safe!

 

Next we had Riddhi Doshi , sharing why she built Lajja. For her it was important women speak up about the sexual issues that are shunned. She built Lajja where women feel safe to speak up and have the experts to guide them. It was very brave of her, given the conservative background she had. But then, that became the driving force why she was determined to build a community where women finds a voice!

Neha Kare, founder UniMo had a similar story to share on why she built the community which includes both the online and the offline model. She felt the need for the community of Mothers who required a support system with their peers to remain intellectually and emotionally active. Motherhood often comes with women being drained of every attention towards themselves. Hence, Neha created this million strong group where Women come forward to find ‘Me-Time’ through activities such as Bappa-thon where they cleaned up the sea-beaches a day after the idols were immersed in water. Her activities are directed towards building a responsible system where Mothers can use their time to change the world.

Neha Aggarwal, shared Baby Chakra was built purely to provide a support to the Mothers who look up on the internet for every information , products and services for their babies. In today’s world with nuclear families growing by manifolds, the mothers rarely find anyone who can guide them with exact information, right when they need it! Hence the online portal with the live discussion forums and experts answering them remains the best solution.

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