Heydeede-‘India’s first all-women instant parcel delivery service train woman to drive,starts to climb social ladder
Mumbai,August18:Heydeedee, a start-up that describes itself as ‘India’s first all-women instant parcel delivery service’ is learning to earn. Anees Fatima Mohammad Ashfan said she is learning for ‘shauk’ (interest). “I’m not going to wear a t-shirt and go to make deliveries,” said the 42-year-old burkha-clad Ashfan. “But if I can drive a two-wheeler then I can use my brother-in-law’s scooter to help the women in my locality if someone suddenly falls ill and needs to go to the doctor.”
There’s never a quiet moment at the Heydeedee office in Mumbai’s Madhu Industrial Estate. If one batch of students is preparing for their learner’s license, another lot is on the two-wheeler simulator and a third group is out on a deserted stretch of road getting a feel of their scooter and the road.
Heydeedee trains the women for 45 days. At the end, it gives women–at least those who are interested in taking the class further–an offer letter that enables them to get a bank loan to buy their own two-wheelers. With the appointment and the scooter, they’re ready to roll.
“A lot of girls tell me that they want to learn to drive but not work,” said Revathi Roy, Heydeedee CEO and managing director. “For me that’s a non-starter. This is not about giving women a hobby, but giving them a skill that will enable them to earn and support their families.”
It might seem like a no-brainer. Learn to drive and get a vocation in the bargain.
The first hurdle: Getting women to sign up
Every stage is a hurdle. The first stage is mobilising the women to join the class.
“Most of the women we are seeking to recruit come from very traditional backgrounds where the girls are keen to work but their fathers or in-laws will not allow it,” said Kavita Chandekar, one of Heydeedee’s two mobilisers. whose job it is to get women to sign up for the class at a subsidised fee of Rs 1,500 (the idea of a token fee, said Roy, is to ensure that the women take it seriously).
“You have to address the community,” said her colleague and co-mobiliser Upasana Singh. “Tell the girls and their parents about the programme and how it will benefit them. We do this by organising meetings at the community level.”
It doesn’t help that driving a two-wheeler professionally as a delivery person isn’t a traditional skill for women unlike, say, the beauty trade or healthcare.
The next hurdle comes after the women decide to join but have to figure out the nitty gritty of their routines: Who will pick up the kids from school, how do you juggle a two-hour class with cooking lunch and dinner and washing and cleaning?
“I cook once in the morning and then again in the evening because my husband will not eat left-overs,” said Suvarna Santosh Ghate, 38, a housewife who has never had a job and wakes up at 5 am to get her routine of chopping-cooking-cleaning-washing going.
“Between 2 and 4 pm is my rest-time and so I am coming for class during this time,” said Ghate.
Does her 15-year-old son, an only child, help her with the housework?
“Of course,” she said proudly. “He runs to the market to buy me what I need.”