As a part of their commitment to women's empowerment, Walmart and CARE announced the launch of a Cashew Value Chain Initiative. As part of the Walmart Foundation's $1 million grant to CARE, a leading humanitarian organization, this project marks the first of a series of initiatives to elevate women from poverty worldwide. Over the next year, Walmart and CARE will create a women owned-and-operated community-based institution to provide more equitable and consistent incomes for approximately 750 women in the cashew farming and processing sector in the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu State in Southern India, Cuddalore and Nagapattinam.
"This project will improve economic opportunities for socially and economically marginalized women and girls in southern India through the promotion of women-owned and -managed cashew enterprises," said Raj Jain, managing director and CEO, Bharti Walmart. "We are excited about the difference we will make in the lives of these women as we are confident the project will improve their entrepreneurial skills and capacity to directly link to the retail market."
Through the partnership, Walmart and CARE aim to improve overall livelihoods for women involved in the cashew processing sector: enhancing income earning opportunities by 20 percent, improving participants' literacy and business skills, and ensuring greater awareness about health and nutrition. The benefits of this initiative will reach beyond the women themselves, impacting the lives of nearly 4,000 people.
"CARE is eager to work with Walmart on an issue that is of critical importance in Tamil Nadu, and throughout so many communities in India - the elevation of women from poverty," said Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE. "Our work together is particularly important in this area as families in Tamil Nadu continue to rebuild their lives after the 2004 tsunami. Walmart's investment will ensure increased income security, which we know leads to greater health and education opportunities for these women and their families."
Over the next year, the program will help to set up three women-owned and managed cashew processing units and 15 literacy centers. Training programs will be conducted for participating women and their daughters on basic social services, rights and entitlement issues. The program will also establish direct links between cashew producers, the women-owned processing units, and the global marketplace.
"This initiative falls in line with Walmart's overarching strategy to support girls, women and the organizations and issues of importance to them," said Margaret McKenna, president, Walmart Foundation. "We are listening to our female customers around the world and want to further demonstrate our commitment to them and their economic empowerment." Cashew is one of the important cash crops of India. There are more than 700 small- scale cashew processing units in southern India, and the sector provides employment to 500,000 people, mostly women.