Pooja Ahuja Nagpal
Mar 01, 2013

Vodafone’s Red Rickshaw revs up ahead of 9 March ride

Q&A with Laura Turkington of Vodafone Foundation on the initiative to raising funds for NGOs, and celebrating ‘ordinary women who have done something extraordinary’

Vodafone’s Red Rickshaw revs up ahead of 9 March ride

Vodafone Foundation announced a ‘Red Rickshaw Revolution’ (www.redrickshaw.in), to raise money for three NGOs working to empower women. The initiative will see three women - Laura Turkington (director, Vodafone Foundation in India), Carina Deegan and Sunita (Delhi’s first woman auto rickshaw driver) traverse a distance of over 1500 kilometres from New Delhi to Mumbai in a red auto rickshaw over nine days.

Campaign India caught up with Turkington before she embarks on the journey to know more about Vodafone Foundation, the Red Rickshaw Revolution, and how it will be promoted.

What work does Vodafone Foundation do in India?

Vodafone has 27 foundations across the world. I look after the Indian edition. It’s the charity arm of Vodafone and we have been active in India for the last couple of years with a number of programme and activities. Our key areas are women empowerment, rural reach and education and we try to bring in technology wherever possible. We seek to empower women so that they can compete on an equal footing, to reach rural areas and support the people living there, and to provide new opportunities for education. 

Could you elaborate on the Red Rickshaw Revolution?

The Red Rickshaw revolution started as a personal idea to do some fund raising by me on a personal level. I wanted to do something that would create attention and would encourage people to make donations to NGOs. The idea started that I would do a rickshaw ride and it would be nice to ask people to connect with me on the ride so that we could share with them the experiences that I have on this journey. So we thought it would be a nice way to combine the journey and have interactions with inspirational women along the way. That’s the way the idea has started and it’s just grown as everybody has been so supportive in the endeavour. The Vodafone foundation has pledged to give Rs 85 lakhs in terms of match funding. Apart from this, Vodafone has helped take this initiative to the next level with the technology they offer. We are going to ask Vodafone customers to make a donation to the foundation by an SMS.

How is it being promoted?

The website has launched just five days ago. Basically, the internet is a part of the build up to the campaign and what we have done there is that we are featuring eminent inspirational women personalities everyday and we are trying to present them as ordinary women who have done something extraordinary. The website also features videos of five different ordinary women every day speaking about why they feel proud about being a woman.  The idea is to make the website interesting and engaging for visitors.

We have pushed a lot of the conversation on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter as we have partnered with them, and they are very keen to help us in terms of amplifying the campaign. Apart from this, the campaign will also have visibility in our retail stores.

What are the contours of this initiative?

We are going to embark on the road trip on the day after Women’s Day, on 9 March. We will travel through Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, and arrive in Mumbai on the 18 March. The Red Rickshaw will pass through cities like Alwar, Jaipur, Ajmer, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Daman and Mumbai. Along the route, we will discover and encounter ordinary women doing extraordinary things, which would be streamed onto the dedicated website www.redrickshaw.in using innovative technology. Visitors to the website can watch and experience these interactions.

How does the Foundation intend to use the funds collected?

We have three NGO partners - Breakthrough, Apne Aap Women’s Collective (AAWC) and Community Outreach Programme (CORP). AAWC is an NGO active in Mumbai’s red light area and it works to prevent second generation prostitution. We are raising funds to set up a health and nutrition unit called Nourish to support pregnant women and their infants. For Breakthrough we have designed an empowerment programme for 8000 women, so we are going to train them to be catalysts of change for their communities. CORP is active in the slum areas of Mumbai and we are setting up a working skills centre to get 300 women to undergo vocational training.

Who are the partners working with you on this initiative?

The campaign has received a fantastic response and we are getting more people/ corporates to partner with us. We have just finalised a partnership with Cocoberry. The partners are growing daily. Some of the current partners are Digital Empowerment Foundation as our Digital partner; Ogilvy as our brand and design partner; we have fund raising support from Samhita, India.com, MissMalini.com and so on. We are also going to have a corporate engagement programme as well, where the corporate can make a donation and those who donate more than a lakh will be called an ‘Angel’ and be featured on our website.

Campaign India

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