logo

Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd.

 

Business Section

Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited undertakes a range of commercial activities. These include:

  1. Social marketing of condoms, with annual sales of up to 5.4 million packs of condoms.
  2. Supply of stationery to different governmental and non governmental organizations in Kolkata and different parts of West Bengal.
  3. Travel and tour services including car rentals, air and train ticket bookings, hotel reservations and organization of local tours.
  4. Marketing sanitary napkins among sex workers at lower than market price within the sex work community. Currently we are exploring a unit for manufacturing sanitary napkins.
  5. Departmental stores selling cosmetics to sex workers at Kolkata, Kalighat and various parts of West Bengal.
  6. More recent ventures include kantha embroidery, organic farming and pisciculture. While kantha embroidery is done at Domjur, farming and fish breeding are being pursued at Baruipur. The Government of West Bengal has offered financial aid to develop the infrastructure for farming and fish breeding in Baruipur.

Skills training for alternate jobs

Usha also offers training in vocations such as beautician, computer operations, car driving, electrician and carpentry as well as the manufacture of sanitary napkins.

Social Marketing
Social marketing of condoms by Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd

Introduction:
There are a number of social and economic attributes such as the degree of occupational mobility, the role and status of women in our society, taboos on discussions of sexual behavior and sexually transmitted infections which contribute to the spread of HIV. Social marketing of condoms by the target group themselves helps in building a bridge of trust to understand the social and cultural environment, hence creating a path for the efficient dissemination of knowledge regarding the spread of STIs and HIV. Social Marketing helps in influencing voluntary behavior changes of the target audience by improving personal welfare and the welfare of the society of which they are part of. Social Marketing is an operation used to change the behavior of vulnerable sections of the population who are ‘at risk’ because they are under-served in terms of

  • Knowledge
  • Awareness of health needs
  • Product access
  • Product affordability
  • Counseling

Objective:
Since there is no treatment for HIV infection till today, prevention is dependent on following a self-protective behavioral code. To promote safer sexual practices, USHA decided to

  1. Begin the social marketing of condoms by the target group themselves
  2. Bring in a behavioral change among high risk groups through counseling and use of IEC materials
  3. Create a demand for condoms
  4. To make condoms easily available and affordable to sex workers and their clients at rural, semi-rural and urban areas with the help of social marketing.
  5. Condoms to be sold should be of very good quality and protect against various STIs in addition to being cheaper than the market price.

Methodology:

  1. Basanti Sena – a group of about 20 sex workers, selected from different red light areas employed marketing, promotion and sale of condoms
  2. Initially social marketing was started in the red light zones of Kolkata followed by the red light zones in the towns of Asansol, Basirhat, Contai, Domjur, Durgapur, Kalna, Santipur, Sheoraphuli, Titagarh etc. in a phased manner.
  3. One-on-one and group counseling to influence behavioral changes and discuss techniques of negotiation to motivate clients towards condom use.
  4. Spread awareness of STIs and HIV/AIDS and its modes of transmission by IEC materials, projections, etc. and thus create a demand for condoms.
  5. Advertisement through leaflets, cultural programs like conducting street plays, etc. and by selling attractive and economic packs of condoms.

Activities:

  1. Two groups of Basanti Sena, with each group comprising of five members and a group leader who coordinates the entire marketing which includes collecting condoms from the office, maintaining accounts, depositing the revenue earned, and submitting a weekly report. The Basanti Sena members meet sex workers of a particular area where they sell condoms.
  2. Established outlets carrying condoms and storage facilities at each red light district. Members of Basanti Sena were in charge of the outlets in their area.
  3. Basanti Sena interacted with sex workers through door-to-door visits and explained to them the modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS and the various consequences associated with unprotected sexual practices through IEC materials/flip charts and individual counseling.
  4. Training sessions were organized to empower sex workers with the capacity to negotiate condom use with their clients. Sex workers were advised to emphasize the use of condoms as a method of protection against AIDS.
  5. Presentations on modes of transmission of STIs and HIV/AIDS were made to educate the general public, including sex workers, on the consequences related to unprotected sexual practices, and general hygiene, thus influencing their sexual behavioral patterns.
  6. Puppet shows were organized to promote the use of condoms.
  7. Cultural programs depicting the advantages of safe sex in relation to the sex workers movement were organized.
  8. Condoms of various types and flavors are sold