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How 17 Women Took a Huge Leap in Their Lives and Helped Buzz Surge Ahead

When Better Future, Buzz India’s co-founding organization, proposed the idea of an exclusive women leadership programme titled ‘sisterhood programme’, we thought it will definitely be interesting. But we hadn’t expected it to turn out so out-of-the-world!

On one hand, Better Future, based out of Netherlands, wanted to bring women who hold leadership positions in large organizations to explore a new perspective towards leadership. They wanted the Dutch women to see and experience leadership through the work of Buzz. On the other, Buzz wanted to give the women employees of Buzz an intense capacity building workshop towards becoming leaders in their sphere of work. Together they ideated and conceptualized, and beautifully christened too, a workshop that was all exclusive for women – ‘The Sisterhood Programme’.

On Day Zero, the 25th of March, seven participants from the Netherlands accompanied by two facilitators, Annemarie and Jolanda, arrived at Fireflies Intercultural Center, Bangalore. With ten Buzz ladies and the facilitator from India, Gayatri Sriram, also arriving at the Fireflies began a week-long programme that was in simple terms, life-changing.

Day Zero: The beginning of a full week of great engagement and work

After the initial greetings and warm introductions, the programme took the first intense immersion on Day 1 with a visit to see how the Buzz training sessions are held. The Dutch team got their first-hand experience at the grassroots level work that happens at Buzz. The Dutch women interacted with the women whom Buzz trained, asking them questions about their aspirations, how they will bring about change and how the Buzz training has impacted their lives. The Buzz team, though primarily involved in the Kannada-English translation job, also got to see their own work from an external perspective.

When the Sisterhood team attended Buzz India’s training sessions

Homestay with our village women

After soaking in the experience, the entire team headed straight for a homestay at the houses of Buzz Gelathis in the villages. Buzz Gelathis are women whom Buzz has trained and who are chosen as ambassadors of Buzz. These women leaders, handhold other women in the process of bringing about behavioral change and social change. Who else can explain the social change impact better than these women from the community who are leading the change? The team couldn’t have asked for a better exposure. The arrangement was such that one Dutch participant and one Buzz team member stayed in the house of one Buzz Gelathi. This proved to be one of the best experiences for the women. The Gelathis gave the team insights into how they are being groomed to become leaders, what challenges they face and how they are working for social change as volunteers even when they aren’t the most privileged of people.

Stories, smiles, tears, hugs, gifts, gratefulness – the experience was loaded

The India experience and the Buzz India experience

The next day, when the entire team gathered after saying their goodbyes to the Gelathis, we saw an explosion of stories. One of the Dutch participants, Rixt, came the next morning draped in a saree that her host gifted her from her own wardrobe. Anameeke was taken on a two-wheeler to visit the houses of other women in the village. Every participant came back with stories that they could tell for hours – stories of empowerment, aspiration, difficulties, courage, and strength. The overwhelming love that the Buzz Gelathis and their families showered on the team, moved them beyond words.

Gearing up for the Buzz Challenge

Buzz has this big goal – to reach 1 million women by 2025. This is a huge target and achieving this is no small feat. There is so much groundwork that needs to happen and there couldn’t be a better opportunity than this to help Buzz leap ahead. We have 17 women leaders, who come with various strengths and experiences. At this workshop, we planned to bring all these wonderful talents to help create social change. The team came back to Fireflies with an energy that they gained from the community and inspiration that their work is going to impact lives.

Buzz laid out three big challenges that for them:

  1. How to build a world-class team for Buzz India and take Buzz India beyond the dependencies of its Co-founder and Chief Changemaker, Uthara Narayanan

  2. How to improve the quality and effectiveness of the programme

  3. How to build the Buzz Brand

The women grouped themselves based on the challenges that they found interested in and where they thought their expertise will be of help. What followed was an absolute intellectual treat. The team did interviews with experts available within the organization and external subject matter experts. There were several brainstorming sessions. Questions, discussions, ideas, counterpoints, role plays, charts, drawings – the teams made sure there were no stones unturned to bring out their plan for Mission 1 million women.

Women at work – brainstorming, critical analysis and solution finding

While the work on the challenges was happening on one side, the team was also getting one-on-one coaching and group coaching for their personal development. There were yoga sessions that brought in the spiritual quotient. The coaching sessions saw many barriers being broken, stories of strength being shared, and there was an atmosphere of learning from one another.

And the outcome was absolutely marvelous – for Buzz and for every participant

Presentations par excellence

The final day presentations to the Buzz leadership team were nothing less than fireworks. The team came up with clear action points for Buzz. The big picture and the minute details were carefully charted out. The first team suggested how the founders of Buzz can transform their role from being an ‘expert’ to becoming a ‘coach/mentor’ and eventually becoming the ‘awakener’ for the organization and hence reducing the organization’s dependency on its founders. The second team suggested how the organization can brand itself under the philosophy of “Driving prosperity home” which will be relevant and inspiring to all stakeholders of the organization. The third team identified the various strengths and weaknesses of the Buzz programme and suggested viable solutions. The best part is, the presentations left the Buzz leadership team surprised that so much valuable work happened in just one week’s time!

These smiles are of women who have moved the needle, for themselves and for other women

Every participant beamed with a feeling of satisfaction that they did great teamwork within this short time. Every participant shared how this one week changed something in them and empowered them as individuals and leaders. As everyone packed their bags, the air was filled with a sense of fulfillment and determination to create a new beginning.

If you feel that your organization needs to bring some energy and creativity in your organization, try this – bring the women together. We did it and we feel this has been one of our best decisions.

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