Marketplace Literacy Project
The mission of this non-profit organization is to enable marketplace literacy among low-literate, low-income individuals through educational programs and through dissemination of educational materials to improve the practices of businesses, governments, not-for-profit organizations, and educators. Whereas microfinancing and vocational literacy have been emphasized in recent decades, our emphasis on generic consumer and entrepreneurial literacy supplements these very important efforts in the economic realm and addresses a central need.
In India, the organization aims to provide education to enable entrepreneurial and consumer literacy among low-literate, low-income buyers and sellers. We have developed an innovative consumer and entrepreneurial literacy educational program for individuals with low literacy. We use a variety of methods such as picture sorting and role play to teach individuals basic concepts for being informed consumers, and for starting a very small business. Education is provided in Chennai and nearby rural areas in Tamil Nadu, India, through our local partner, Marketplace Literacy Communities (MLC Trust). Educational programs are used to evaluate and modify the curriculum and educational materials. We have documented this program in a book published by Springer in an education series in alliance with UNESCO. We are working with Marketplace Literacy Communities to scale this program through video-based means.
Our partner organization, Marketplace Literacy Communities, based in the state of Tamil Nadu, has formed or reactivated nearly 100 self-groups of 15-20 women in different parts of Chennai, providing day-to-day support as well as marketplace literacy education. They also work in a cluster of villages near the town of Uthiremerur, providing marketplace literacy education to women.
In the state of Tamil Nadu, we are working with Madura Micro-Finance Limited (MMFL) to enable video based self-administered marketplace literacy education to groups of women, using a movie about empowerment produced for educational purposes as an emotional platform. This Micro Business Education (MBE) program developed with Madura Micro Finance Limited is being continuously tested, modified, and assessed by our local partner, Marketplace Literacy Communities, in a number of areas in Chennai and in villages nearby.
In the state of Andhra Pradesh, working with the Byraju Foundation, we have created video-based episodes and support materials to facilitate marketplace literacy education. This program was launched recently after extensive piloting.
In Tanzania, we are working with OIKOS, East Africa to pilot consumer and entrepreneurial literacy in tribal communities.
Pilots of the marketplace literacy program have also been conducted by student teams in Uganda and the Dominican Republic.
"Marketplace Literacy: A Key to Unleashing Rural Consumption and Entrepreneurship" - Wall Street Journal - September 2009