Jita is a social enterprise which brings employment to women from among Bangladesh’s extreme rural poor through door to door sales of consumer goods. Its goal is to empower women who previously had never earned their own income, and open a channel for basic personal hygiene and nutritional food products to reach remote villages. Today, Jita employs over 2,600 formerly unemployed women whose average income has increased from approximately 440 to 1500 taka per month. The enterprise aims to employ 12,000 women by 2014.
In addition to fulfilling its developmental purpose, Jita represents a new form of NGO-business partnerships and of sustainable funding models. Jita sells products by Unilever, Danone and others, helping these companies build links with the elusive bottom of the pyramid customer base. Currently co-owned by CARE International and DANONE Communities Jita operates as an independent business entity with over £1.5 million in sales.
Jita’s innovative business model has been widely recognized. The business been subject of a teaching case at the University of Oxford’s Said Business School as well as a case study by the Business Innovation Forum, featured at the Skoll World Forum for Social Enterprise the Swedish Government’s Stockholm+40 Partnership Forum for Sustainable Development, and covered in The Economist.