One of the most important aspects in any business or cause is the community behind it. Every person that joins the community increases the effectiveness of that community by multiple folds. And that is why the best institutions, businesses or causes have the best community, one which constantly interacts, discusses and helps each other to scale new heights.
Over the years Facebook has enabled so many people to start their own communities on their platform. From finding houses to finding answers about their queries, these communities have helped a ton of people. In recent times, Facebook has done even better by launching the Facebook Community Accelerator which aims to help community builders with more custom tools to grow and engage their members.
Bangalore Insider recently got in touch with three amazing community builders who are building the next gen community for women in India. The story behind each one of them starting the communities is amazing and even more amazing is the fact about how they are scaling it and making it reach thousands of members.
We have got Swati Gorantyal, founder- Bangalore Women Power (BWP), Minal Mathur, founder- Adventure Women India (AWI), Erum Saeed, founder- Moms of India (MOI) in this exclusive interview where they talk about what got them started and how it is going so far.
What were the first inklings of thought that went through your mind, when you decided to start off the project?
BWP – In 2016, I was a social seller struggling to scale my business due to lack of a platform, direction and resources. And there were millions like me who were sailing the same boat. That’s when I started “BWP-Bangalore Women Power” for empowering women and sellers like me. Our group organically grew to 1.11 Lakh members strong. We aim to empower, help and create a community that encourages entrepreneurship making them financially independent. Today, BWP did just that for all of us. It is not just a group anymore, it’s truly a family.
AWI – I have always felt that “Travel” is an opportunity to transform one self in to a new person, a better one! And when a woman decides to travel, she gives herself an opportunity to see, explore and admire the world around her with her own eyes and mind! I had always been an avid traveler. Which is why I understand the biggest apprehension that keeps any woman from traveling is her safety concern.
To ensure my safety during the trip, I always tried to connect people who had been to that place before and therefore who can guide me through it. I always wanted to connect with like minded women who are outdoor enthusiasts like me. There are a lot of apprehensions for women when they look to travel which is why I wanted to build a network of experienced travelers who can provide genuine, dependable and unbiased advice to shun these doubts. It was then the idea of creating a Facebook Platform came into my mind. A platform that can help to create a space that encourages women to take up travel independently, and provides the right information and resources for women to travel with the utmost confidence.
MOI- After conceiving twins & going through several complications, I was looking for a medium to open up & talk about new changes, moodswings, PPD etc. This gave me an idea of connecting with more mothers like me who might be feeling the same way. I wanted to create a space where we can embrace motherhood and to get in touch with new mothers primarily from the neighborhood with similar struggles to share their suggestions & support at odd hours.
A lot of my friends are in different parts of the world, eager to connect with everyone – I decided to start a Facebook group and organized an online reunion. And that day became the beginning of everything – friends added their friends & so on and we became a community of 5000 mothers within a week. What started with the purpose to ‘stay connected’ and networking became a revolution and gradually Indian mothers from all over the world started joining in. Today, our global community stands for ‘New Age Parenting’ where women are encouraged and empowered & where there is no judgment and bias.
MOI is a safe haven for women to give and receive support. MOI is also known as Mom’s Google !
How has the community accelerator program helped and please share some success stories of your communities
BWP -Over the period of running the community, we observed that there are millions of women entrepreneurs who want to scale up their business but lack the knowledge, support and most importantly, a platform. Soon we started “buy and sell” in the community and launched an e-commerce platform exclusively for women entrepreneurs. Through the Facebook Accelerator Program, we analyzed that to grow any business there is a need of 3 basic enablers required i.e Coaching, Increase outreach and efficiency. And for all this to perform consistently, right technology is required. With the same principle we want to enable the business growth of our women sellers. Hence, we are launching a social commerce enabler platform which aims at simplifying the selling journey’s of sellers selling on social media by making it fast, efficient and easy through our full stack automation and productivity tools platform.
We also believe in “We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better” – by JK Rowling
Success Story : There are many to pen. But one we want to highlight is how we empowered 70+ farmer artisans who are making Stone Diyas and Paddy Rice Torans. This is an overwhelming achievement for us as we have enabled well-deserved communities to amplify their business and make it work for them.
Another great success story is that we piloted the “BWP Business School” program with 550+ sellers and trained them on basic business aspects and introduced them to productivity tools which increased their reach by 2X and overall they achieved a GMV of Rs. 250000 in a month.
AWI – Community Accelerator has made me understand the strength, power and the core potential of my community. It made me identify and understand the different personas that co-existed within my community and hence enabled me to cater their needs leading to high engagement levels and rising trust and sense of belonging within the community. Seamless Organization structure, execution of onground events, exposure to various professional ecosystem partners , pitching to the brands and a lot of credibility came our way after getting selected by the Facebook Accelerator Program.
Success Story: Our on ground events have inspired 600+ (On Records) females from across the country to step out of their comfort zone and take their step towards being active, being adventurous. Very recently, I met a Retd Military Officer who thanked me because she was able to find her social life after joining AWI on ground events and had made many friends because of it.
MOI – Community Accelerator Program has been a strong catalyst for all the participating communities. For MOI, it has opened doors and has enabled us to think and rise beyond what we thought was possible. This programme provides excellent mentorship and grooms entrepreneurs into community leaders. This has helped us to structure our community better and learn how we can best sustain a passion driven community like MOI in the longer run. Through FCAP we have launched several impactful initiatives which will further empower and benefit all the members on MOI Community. Using Facebook as a tool, we are now equipped to provide right resources to the women on our platform, voice their concerns, and make them utilise their talent to the max.
We have successfully launched “MOI Talent Pool” and “MOI Career Pursuit” for mothers who wish to start/ restart their career. One of our another initiative, the “MOI – Momfluencer” programme has helped in giving an interesting parallel profession to many women who love being on social media.
Success Stories –
Through our MOI – Momfluencer programme we did 3 big campaigns for some renowned brands and have supported and included (made) 150+ new influncers through MOI
Our MOI Talent Pool has enforced around 500+ moms to think about taking up their career again in last one month.
At MOI, which acts as an ecosystem for moms, there have been numerous instances where our community emerged as a savior. Particularly, in one incident where a young mother lost her husband and was unable to support her children’s convent education, MOI members were able to not only provide emotional support but financial support as well. Through a group effort, we collected funds and deposited the fees to the school. In another incident a mother was unable to support her daughter’s treatment of a blood disorder, owing to heavy hospitalization costs. Our members once again came together to raise funds to support her bills. We have also turned several Stay-At-Home Moms into budding mom-preneurs, encouraged many moms to turn their hobbies into art & given them a space that helps them realize their own worth & stand tall.
The biggest win that our community has had is its success in building an environment that is inclusive. There is absolutely no hate speech or bullying of any kind, which I am super proud of!
How do you hope to see the project evolve in the upcoming, say, 1 year?
BWP – There are millions of women entrepreneurs selling products/ services from home and depending on social media platforms to reach the customers. We see our platform to be a catalyst for millions of sellers to increase their customer reach by 10X, save time by 95% and get business growth of 2X in a year through our automation platform.
AWI – I see Adventure Women India becoming a known venture online as well as offline. I do see a lot more people getting benefitted with the community. The guidance that we have got has helped us to amplify our social impact. I believe over the next year we will expand and our community will grow to become bigger, better, safer, more reliable, more dependable and more resourceful. I see AWI becoming the one stop shop for any and every female who is an outdoor enthusiast. I aspire AWI to become that reliable source that can provide the right information, right financial advice, right health tips and loads of motivation to encourage all its members to take control of their lives confidently.
MOI – Over the next one year with the help of the Community Accelerator Program, ‘Moms Of India’ will be able to grow exponentially as a brand and will proceed further to become the top platform for mothers to connect & communicate. MOI plans to become the most preferred platform for brands to promote their products as we have the capacity to reach 5 lac households directly. MOI Career Pursuit aims to enable the mothers to get back to work easily and be independent.
Giving back to society is also another major priority for MOI’s project, and that leads to our charity wing ‘Hope In Motion’, which will be fully & officially functioning in the next one year.
How important is Facebook’s role in terms of the tools that are being leveraged to maximize community impact?
BWP – The base of social commerce has always been Facebook and we have been able to leverage all their APIs like groups, pages, marketplace, profiles and instagram. There are 0.5 Mn+ Product Sale posts in a month in India alone by small businesses, homepreneurs & sellers on Facebook Groups who are looking for active buyers. With the help of Facebook’s tools, we will be able to multiply the business reach of these sellers by 10X and increase engagement.
AWI – Facebook is used by countless people across the globe. Its effort to make the communities strong, in a real sense makes the people associated with those communities stronger. Because it is the people who at the end get the maximum benefit out of a good community, Facebook plays a vital role in upgrading the community and its leaders by providing new tools, group support, certificate courses and various other programs.
MOI – Facebook is playing a HUGE role in helping us maximize our impact. All the tools & products have been of great help in terms of reducing the job of Admins in managing a huge community like ours. As a result, the team’s burden is lesser from an administrative point of view and we can focus on creating impact. Also these tools have helped us in increasing our reach across platforms and different audiences from various demographics.
Facebook is the base court for MOI and we are happy that time to time FB is upgrading, modifying and releasing new tools for us to maximize our impact.
I would like to add that with FCAP, we have got some excellent ideas and thus we experimented some untouched territories. MOI has now turned into a “MOMMYVERSE”, combining of 11 sister groups and onboarding half a million members !!
What’re some of the ways in which each community is able to leverage the other’s resources or reach in order to potentially increase engagement?
BWP – We strongly believe “The ability for a group of people to do remarkable things hinges on how well those people can pull together as a team.” Our initiatives provide value to all the communities by helping them increase their members and engagement and thereby becoming a win-win for all.
AWI – Communities might differ but people are the same. Every community addresses a different need of an individual. There are many ways by which the communities may collaborate with each other and make their platform not only engaging and useful for their members but can also add to their portfolio and expertise. Offering online interviews, Inviting different community leaders to their in person meet ups, Utilizing each other’s onboarded experts for online sessions are just some of the ways by which the communities can grow together. Offline events hosted by multiple communities is indeed a fruitful way of cross promotion.
MOI – Collaboration is the key. Symbiotic relationships where both are mutually benefited is what we practice in all partnerships at MOI. Here is this program each community has some expertise, which can be utilised for increased reach & engagements. We can explore each other’s USP, areas and resources and utilize them in various ways
What is the kind of reception that community leaders such as yourself receive from beneficiaries?
BWP – The one thing that keeps me going as I work on my community is the continuous blessings from our members for creating a difference in their lives. Our work helps them become more financially independent and empowered. BWP is not just a group, it’s a family so we all are emotionally connected with each other. We are glad that we could be a catalyst for earning bread and butter for thousands of families through our platform.
AWI – When you do good, you get good! People appreciate your effort and selflessly come forward to lend a hand of help. They believe in you and make you believe that you are doing – counts. The positive response I get from the people is my strength to go forward. It is their love and respect that makes me feel that I should contribute more of my time, sincere efforts and hard work to make this community better than ever before.
MOI – Well the admiration & respect that I have earned is unmatched. Our members always appreciate the kind of support they get on MOI, and it helps us grow stronger. Their faith in us keeps us going and motivates us to do better, each time, for the community. With whatever small change we have been able to create in their lives, I have earned credibility, plausibility & trust from my members which is priceless. And thus I strive hard to live upto the expectations of my people & will continue to do so by empowering, influencing & inspiring as many mothers as possible.
We are proud to say that out of every 10 members joining MOI, lives of atleast 8 of them has changed for good. Today ‘MOI is a Family of 500K Members’ and the love & respect from our members has increased manifold.