In 2017, Booking.com, an online travel and accommodation facility providing company, launched Booking Booster to support startups in sustainable tourism. From its employee-driven volunteer programme to accelerator programmes for social enterprise scale-ups and early-stage startups to its fund for non-profit change makers, bookingcares.com support people and companies who share the belief in making tourism a force for good. It empowers sustainable tourism startups to do what they do best by providing them with a unique blend of financial support, hands-on technical expertise, regular coaching and a lasting connection to a growing community of like-minded peers.
Sakha, our strategic partner, is a unique social enterprise, launched to offer safe transport solutions for women by women in selected cities in India. In doing so, it also provided livelihoods with dignity through professional driving opportunities to resource-poor women as part of our “Women on Wheels” (WoW) Initiative.
We are super excited to share with you that in May 2018, Sakha participated in the 2018 Booking Booster program held in Amsterdam. After several weeks of workshops in Amsterdam, Sakha was one of the ten selected start-ups that on May 31gave their final pitch to the Jury to try to win and share a fund of 2 million euros.
The top 10 finalists pitched their scaling plans to a live audience and panel of expert judges in Amsterdam. Based on the Pitch, Sakha has been awarded this year’s second highest grant of €325k! This win has not only boosted our spirits but most importantly helps Sakha to create livelihoods in professional driving for many more trained women drivers and provide safe transport to many more women across Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata and Indore. The support from Booking Booster will enable Sakha Cabs for Women by Womento grow its fleet of cars and drivers and Sakha to facilitate employment for hundreds more women in private placements and strengthen institutionally.
Meenu Vadera, our Executive Directorand Founder of Sakha Consulting Wings, says that, ‘’Booking Booster provided us with some much-needed time to reflect, re-strategize and fire up our rockets. It has given us new perspectives and tools for analyzing our business, as well as the insights to synchronize our impact and business narrative. We will use the fund to scale up our capacity, improve operational efficiency and multiply our impact exponentially. Over the next two years, this funding will enable us to provide livelihoods in transport to over 1,000 resource-poor women, who will be able to earn collectively over 2 million euros for themselves and their families and provide 1.1 million safe rides to women across India 201D .
‘’The vision and passion that we’ve seen from all the startups this year has been truly inspiring… I was especially impressed with… Sakha’s commitment to empowering women in India to take control of their livelihoods”said Gillian Tans, President and CEO of Booking.com.
The win at Booking Booster has also provided loads of publicity for Sakha and our Women on Wheels initiative.
TV5Monde, an international television network congratulated Sakha for its amazing efforts and the victory by reporting, ‘The Indian social and solidarity firm Sakha Consulting Wings has just received a grant from the Booking Booster program for its sustainable tourism project. Their Women on Wheels project offers more than just a job for Indian women. It’s not just about driving but changing the way women look in Indian society. Independence, dignity, fight against sexual violence, give the wheel to women to change the world.’
Sakha Consulting Wings along with the other startups that participated in the program will receive 9 months of ongoing mentoring and coaching from a strategic mix of Booking.com experts representing all parts of the business, as well as opportunities and access to collaborate with Booking.com on potential innovation initiatives and experiments to help accelerate their future growth. The finalists will also have the possibility of benefitting from Amazon Web Services’s startups program: AWS Activate.
Both Azad and Sakha thank Bookingcares.com for recognizing efforts of organizations aiming to change the tourism industry with their sustainable long-term plans.