Empower 100 women as food entrepreneurs in India

by YRGaitonde Medical Educational&Research Foundation

The project has kept its focus on women entrepreneurs. Currently 52 women have graduated to become successful entrepreneurs, and we have crossed an important milestone of creating over 50% of our target both for implementation and funding. March 13, 2013 is a 30% bonus day for contributions made to the project through Global Giving and we request you to consider talking about us with your friends. 

The project also has considered those women who enrolled to become entrepreneurs but could not, or would not, given certain circumstances, primary amongst which is an hesitation from their family to be supportive of entrepreneurship. For them, we have extended the food services opportunity as ECO Kitchen signs up catering orders at work places and private residences for parties, and these women are trained to become food services agents. Over fifty three women currently serve in this role.

Community Outreach: 


ECO Kitchen observed World Aids Day at Nungambakkam Girls High School, Chennai on Dec 1st 2012. The Number of participants were 450 students of very limited means. The programme was conducted to create awareness about HIV/AIDS among the adolescents. It also aimed to alleviate the stigma that prevails in the minds of common people. The participants were provided with gifts and delicious breakfast and lunch with support from Cognizant Technology Solutions.


The women entrepreneurs and their children who are students of corporation school were given the opportunity to celebrate and welcome the New Year. It was held at Chennai High School, Vannyateynampet ( Eldams road) on 2nd January 2013. The number of participants were 250. The New year celebration was followed by fine lunch and 18kg cake cutting and distribution of the same. We also took this as an opportunity to honour the students who participated and won prizes in the World Aids Day 2012 programme. 


As part of ‘Endrum Punnagai’ programme, the students were brought for an exposure visit on 20th February 2013. 60 students from Chennai High school, Adyar were the participants. The purpose was to communicate to the students about the livelihood opportunity provided and the services rendered by ECO Kitchen. This would help in reaching the people of their surroundings and communities and to disseminate the opportunity available through KATHIR to the community at large through these children. Nutritional quiz was conducted to enhance the knowledge of students on the food that they consume everyday


We had a very productive quarter between July and Sep 2012 reaching out to other non profits that assist women and offering to partner with them. The highlights for the quarter are -

  • Entrepreneurs reunion meeting- 27 partners attended the meeting- August
  • Total No of entrepreneurs- 65 ( average meals off take 40 meals per individual, up by 30%)
  • NGO meetings- for period July-Sept- 12 meetings ( includes all meetings conducted through NGOs)
  • All meetings are successfully generating potential Kathir entrepreneurs.
  • NAAM foundation and EQUITAS NGOs have taken steps forward to introduce all women ( differently abled and destitute women) to ECO Kitchen. Training is presently being offered and locations being identified. NAAM Foundation inductees will be in December 2012 during their annual meeting.
  • NGO meeting held on 15th Sept 2012 at Chennai, called on all NGO partners and CBO ( Community based organisation) partners to be part of the world food day event.
    We had proposed to increase awareness about KATHIR to the citizens of Chennai and planned an event for the WORLD FOOD DAY. Over 30.000 meals were donated on October 14, and through the generous time of students who volunteered at the event.
    More information on the WORLD FOOD DAY activity, in which we met the imminent needs of the hungry for that day, and offered them hope for tomorrow through the entrepreneurship also received support from Rotary clubs in Rockville, USA and Madras Midtown. We received a delivery truck through them, a significant addition to the project reducing the cost of operations, and also over the next one year through their members have committment for sponsorship of entrepreneurs. This tracks well with the generosity of the benefactors via Global Giving.
    A special thanks to all of you, donors, who have made the project possible. We have a long way to go and we will continue to seek your support.


The last quarter has been active and rewarding for the project. We have crossed the half-way mark thanks to your generous support and have installed 54 carts, out of the total 100 carts, our goal. We now have 22 women, trained and ready for the opportunity and would like to ask you to spread the word to your friends and encourage them to financially support this project.

During this quarter, SUZLON India’s CSR team visited the center. They wish to engage with ECO Kitchen through their corporate social responsibility program.

We are pleased to say that while Chennai has been reeling under a runaway inflation, thanks to your support we have held our prices for the entrepreneurs and they, in turn for their clients.

The process of identifying and training eligible entrepreneurs has been strengthened. We have a full time training team in place and have published a schedule of training for the entrepreneurs. A training manual has been developed. The entrepreneurs gathered and discussed what worked and did not for them. Their feedback is now incorporated in to the project.We also have an schedule of visits by our sales and marketing team to the carts to assist them to expand their market. 

Many of our donors have expressed a desire to see a video of our project. We are in the process of creating one.

Thank you again for your support. Do join our facebook page www.facebook.com/ecokitchen. 

Visit of the Mayor of Chennai
Visit of the Mayor of Chennai

Report on Empower 100 Women As Food Entrepreneurs In India on March 8, 2012 (Chennai, India).

We are pleased to report that on this International Women’s Day 2012, we have three more exciting developments to share with our donors and supporters:

(a) We are entering in to a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Nutrition and Home Science, Women’s Christian College, Chennai, to develop a more comprehensive approach towards community nutrition. Our meals have always aimed to nourish body and mind, and with this partnership, we would access evidence-based approaches to low cost nutrition that is pleasing to the palette as well.

(b) We have been invited to discuss the project with the Chennai Corporation, the civic body for city administration, and we are in fact hoping that we can place carts in their offices. This would mean not just a mark of recognition for our hygiene and safety, or even a validation of our model; beyond that it would allow our entrepreneurs an opportunity to foray in to other Government offices where foot falls are steady and the locations gain approval from their families.

(c)  The Rotary Club of Chennai Mid Town, and the Rotary Club of Rockville, US, are together exploring ways to support our project. This is a great beginning.

We are in the process of conducting a survey among our consumers to predict their needs and to ensure that our food at the cart meets those needs. Our entrepreneurs will be trained in collecting needed data in simple forms (self administered) for this purpose.

Our quarterly medical check for our entrepreneurs is scheduled in first week of April. We are planning to work together with the Government Centre for the purposes of referral and have enlisted volunteer clinicians and nurses at this time for running a clinic. We may be requiring the assistance and time of a pediatrician, as the women are likely to bring their children to the clinic.  Should you know someone interested in supporting us, please do ask them to write to us at info@ecokitchen.org


We were pleased to host an event by Ms. Donna Callejon, Chief Business Officer, GlobalGiving, at our kitchen on Jan 27, 2012, where she presented about Global Giving to other non-profits at Chennai. We were glad that we could showcase our facility and our community work to her during this visit. 


The Mayor made a surprise visit to our facility on February 23, 2012. We look forward to working closely with his office in developing the project further.


March 14th is the first GlobalGiving bonus day of the year. Starting at 12 AM, US EDT, GlobalGiving will be matching all donations made through www.globalgiving.org up to $1,000 per donor at 30%. Please spread the word.

The organization that raises the most funds on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,000 from Global Giving. The organization that has the most unique donors on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,000 from Global Giving.

We are still 22000$ away from our stated goals to establish 100 carts. We are nearing fifty carts presently and we indeed hope to receive your continued support. Please share our Global Giving Page link with your friends. 

We are pleased to report an exciting development. The Tamil Nadu Women's Development Corporation has invited a proposal from ECO Kitchen to partner with them in developing entreprenuers out of their nearly 200,000 active members. This opens not only a large resource pool for the programme, but also will eventually provide safe locations for the carts at places of high footfall (such as Government offices). The project will be addressing next week a group of mothers of students from the Corporation of Chennai school, each of whom having a difficult story to narrate. The school management has agreed to provide a space for an entrepreneur drawn from this parent group, offering not just a soure of livelihood for the mother and her family, but access to nutritious, affordable snacks and meals for the students.

The project is also pleased to report that we have now hired a manager (social partnerships) and a training officer (earlier with a corporate CSR programme) to give definition to the project and to support the work of the manager (ECO).

The project has its own unique URL at facebook www.facebook.com/ecokitchen, to which we would like to invite you so that we can stay in touch in real time. We will be grateful if you would consider sending this URL to your friends.

The pace of support to the project has slowed down in the last few months. We are yet to raise 24000$ and do have another year. Your support and promotion is important. We are looking forward to the new year with great expectation and write to thank each of you for your support this past year. Here is every good wish for the holidays and the new year 2012. 


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Organization Information

YRGaitonde Medical Educational&Research Foundation

Location: CHENNAI, Tamil Nadu - India
Website: http:/​/​www.ecokitchen.org
YRGaitonde Medical Educational&Research Foundation
Project Leader:
Aylur Kailasam Ganesh

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