Micro-enterprise in the Dharavi Slum

My first blog focused on Mumbai’s Dabbawalas and this one is going to have a more social enterprise focus.


During my time in Mumbai I spent a day in Dharavi, which is in the middle of Mumbai, has over a million people living there and is the worlds most densely populated slum. 


Before I went there I had a lot of preconceived perceptions of what a slum would be like, however I couldn’t be more wrong. It was safe, the people living there were welcoming and instead of a give up type feeling there was a get up and go feeling. Everyone I met wanted to create a better life from them, their families and their wider communities.


In Dharavi alone there are over 10,000 businesses operating in sectors like leather, pottery and recycling. The leather products they produce can be made from design to fit in 24hours and are sold all over the world. No space is left empty in Dharavi and the picture at the top of this blog is of the roofs of Dharavi showing at least three different types of industries operating there.


In addition to the core businesses there were some excellent examples of bigger firms supporting micro enterprises in Dharavi. One such instance was a large business outside of Dharavi outsourcing the production of chapati’s to women within Dharavi, this gave a small income, but most importantly gave a degree of financial independence and control of the family finances.


One other interesting case study I came across was a social enterprise run by an inspiring young guy called Krishna Pujari. Krishna is Co-Founder of Reality Tours a company that takes people round Dharavi and shows them what real slum life is. It ploughs is profits back into support community and education projects in Dharavi and is making a hugely positive impact. I recorded a short interview with Krishna and if you have a moment please have watch of it here.


One striking thing from my time in Dharavi was the emphasis on education. The young children were immaculately turned out attending daily classes on English to math’s. Education is rightly seen as vital in helping children towards a brighter future.


However it shouldn’t be forgotten that life in Dharavi is extremely tough and it left me with an impression of how lucky we are and how often we take the basics for granted. But what I did see was enterprise thriving in the tough surroundings and helping to deliver a ray of hope for the families and their children in Dharavi.


My third and final blog on my visit to Mumbai will be on theCommonwealth Asia Alliance for Young Entrepreneurs (CAAYE) Summit and I will be sharing some thoughts from some truly remarkable young entrepreneurs from across the commonwealth countries in the Asian region.


You an follow me on twitter here.

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