AECOM's Blueprint Travel Grant programme allowed employee Amy to help empower female entrepreneurs in India


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AECOMs blueprint for a better world empowers women

AECOM's blueprint for a better world empowers women

AECOM's Blueprint Travel Grant program supports its employees’ passion to use their technical expertise in partnership with nonprofit organizations to bring lasting, scalable solutions to communities in need. In one year AECOM supported 25 projects across 15 countries. These projects focus on building critical infrastructure, promoting gender equality and protecting endangered species. AECOM are proud to partner with nonprofit organizations around the world to support communities in need such as Engineers without Borders USA and Water for People.

"We view Corporate Responsibility as an extension of our purpose: Built to deliver a better world. Our approach is inspired by our employees, who make a positive and tangible impact in communities around the world," says AECOM.

Empowering the community

Amy Forsyth is a structural engineer within the Civil Infrastructure group at AECOM Australia. Thanks to AECOM's Blueprint Travel Grant Programme, Amy travelled to India to join Pollinate Energy’s Professional Fellowship program, which supports the organisation’s work to promote safer, more accessible, clean-energy solutions for India's urban slum communities. 

Last year, Pollinate Energy merged with Nepalese social enterprise Empower Generation. Both organisations aim to encourage local entrepreneurs to support the most marginalised communities by providing life-changing products and employment opportunities to people living in poverty in a sustainable way.

Pollinate Energy and Empower Generation management team visited Amy and her team for a Q&A session. "After a few challenging days of learning to overcome cross-cultural communication barriers and logistical setbacks, the panel was exactly the inspiration needed to get our project back on track!" says Amy.

Investing in women

Sita Adkihari, Co-Founder and Director of Empower Generation, talked about how they have empowered local Nepalese women by giving opportunities for entrepreneurship through the sale of products such as solar lights and sanitary pads. The organization strongly believes that women are the best investment and primary means of change because they will invest profit from their income into the future of their families and communities future.

"I’ve seen this first-hand through Pollinate Energy’s female entrepreneurs, who are referred to as Suryamukhis (which beautifully translates to “sunflowers”), when the women are in communities forming connections with mothers and families," adds Amy.

Watching reality on the big screen

Amy discusses how one night, after a busy afternoon of slum community visits, she and her team watched the Bollywood hit Pad Man, which tells the true story of social entrepreneur and Padma Shri recipient – Arunachalam Muruganantham. He made it his project to create and provide affordable, safe and sustainable sanitary pads to women living in poverty in rural India, whilst empowering thousands of women entrepreneurs through his distribution model.

"It was exciting to see the extraordinary relevance of the film to our work, particularly the very similar female distribution model adopted by Empower Generation! This is a must-watch film, complete with fantastic Bollywood tunes and moves," comments Amy.

Meeting inspiring people

According to Amy, it's the people you meet when travelling are what make the experience unforgettable. "I was so amazed by the inspiring, innovative and ambitious women I met during this fellowship," adds Amy. "From Sita’s unequivocal passion and inspirational mission for Pollinate Energy and Empower Generation, to the local women in the slum communities who are striving to make life better for their families, to Shivani Kanodi – Pollinate’s Fellowship Manager – who brightens up every day at the ‘Hive’ with her bubbly energy and positivity. I cannot wait to see what the team achieves next for female empowerment in India and Nepal."

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