BTS Teams Up with Hand in Hand: Helping Impoverished Women in India Become Successful Entrepreneurs

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Innovative, hands-on experience encourages participants to start and run their own small businesses, creating hope for generations of families

“Our goal was to create a sustainable program that empowered women to take care of themselves and their children,” said Stefan Hellberg, executive vice president at BTS.

BTS, a global leader in strategy implementation, has joined forces with Hand in Hand, a public charitable trust, in a pro bono effort to fight poverty by teaching women in rural India – most of whom have low literacy and possess no business knowledge – how to become successful business owners.

Playing a critical role in Hand in Hand’s Village Upliftment Program, BTS’ ground breaking initiative brings hope to impoverished villages in Thenputhur, India, where the scourges of drought, hunger, malnutrition and child labor trap the majority of people in a vicious cycle of poverty.

“Our goal was to create a sustainable program that empowered women to take care of themselves and their children,” said Stefan Hellberg, executive vice president at BTS. “The ROI for us is to grow the number of women who are able to start and run their own businesses, and increase the number of children who can stay in school rather than work in the fields.”

BTS, whose client list includes today’s leading corporations, has a global reputation for developing the business acumen, leadership and sales capabilities necessary for superior strategy execution. By partnering with Hand in Hand India, an organization committed to the empowerment of women, education and child labor elimination, BTS has been able to apply its capabilities to help hundreds of people living in Thenputhur. The ongoing effort aims to reach thousands more.

To maximize impact, BTS drew upon its vast experience with corporate clients and expertise in delivering highly effective learning to develop a “business simulation” program. Involving a board and simulated local currency, the program created a hands-on experience of running a small, fictional business.

Leni Ekendahl, initiator of the joint venture with BTS and former director of Hand in Hand in Sweden, is pleased to report that since the program launched in April 2011, many of the participating women have already started successful small businesses and citizen centers. Some have even expanded these enterprises by selling purified water and other services.

“BTS has been the perfect corporate partner for us because they understand our goal to create sustainable solutions to help the most vulnerable members of society – women and children,” said Ekendahl. “They have brought change to these villages that will last lifetimes and extend through generations.”

Hand in Hand’s Village Upliftment Program was highly impactful. In just 24 months, the change brought to the village of Thenputher was evident:

  •     Female empowerment has led to increased awareness of women’s rights and the promotion of gender equity, with women having a greater role in family decisions.
  •     Through awareness campaigns and training, the village was declared child labor free.
  •     Every child in the village attends school.
  •     The improved economic conditions have made families self-sustainable and helped them lead a better life in terms of education, health and other areas.

Plans are currently underway to ensure the long-term sustainability of this initiative. To learn more, visit us at

About BTS
BTS is a world leading strategy implementation firm that accelerates execution by building the alignment, mindset and capability needed to deliver superior business impact. The company lever-ages customized business simulations and experiential learning initiatives to help clients achieve better results, faster. For more information on BTS and its initiatives, please visit:

About Hand in Hand
Over the past eight years, Hand in Hand has worked with 970,000 women in India and helped to create some 976,000 enterprises. The organization is now expanding into Kenya, South Africa, Af-ghanistan and other developing countries. The Hand in Hand approach was developed by Dr Kalpana Sankar and her team of development experts in partnership with Percy Barnevik, the Swedish business leader. It combines the provision of microfinance services with in-depth business and skills training. The key to its success is that it doesn’t simply send people away with money; it ensures that businesses are created and lives improved in the long term.

Jessica Bower
203 391 5272

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Jessica Bower
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