Each of these social enterprises illustrates how ordinary villagers can work together and make meaningful progress towards closing the livelihood deficit in rural villages. They embody Seva Mandir’s belief that business can be both socially responsible and profitable, even in the most remote and disadvantaged locations. Seva Mandir’s first experiment in social enterprise, Sadhna (pictured), is today an independent textile business employing 700 rural women, and exemplifies the promise of incubating socially profitable ideas.



Farmers in Kotra were receiving only a small fraction of the final market price for their dal (lentils). Three layers of middlemen were clogging the value chain and reducing profits.

Seva Mandir’s Response

In 2008, Seva Mandir partnered with farmers to found a cooperatively run dal mill. There are currently 86 cooperative members from seven villages. Cutting out the middlemen allows the mill to offer these farmers much better prices for their crop, and this has forced competing buyers to offer 30% higher prices region-wide, directly benefiting another 3,500 farming families. The mill has won and retained a number of commercial clients such as the Taj Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur.

By making dal a more commercially viable crop, the mill has also reduced the number of farmers choosing to grow genetically modified cotton. GM cotton damages the soil and often uses child labor during the harvest.

The cooperative is now planning to invest in heavy machinery that will greatly expand mill capacity, achieve economies of scale and allow the inclusion of more farmers.


Delwara Heritage and Community Walk
ancient heritage. contemporary lives.

Delwara is a former royal principality 40 minutes from Udaipur. It has a rich heritage including an 18th century palace, 1000 year old Jain temples, a diversity of caste groups, and a thriving crafts tradition. At the same time, each walk offers a window into small town India and explores the transformative development and social changes brought about by the people of Delwara and Seva Mandir.

We are a small group of guides who are all from Delwara, and have spent hundreds of hours researching and training to lead the walk. We hope to share our town’s unique history and, at a deeper level, show a slice of life as it is lived and experienced in our community. Any money we make goes directly to our walk cooperative and toward the town’s development.

To learn more, please visit our Facebook page or click here to download our brochure.

Book now! Call 0294 2451041.



Rights to land and water resources are contested across Seva Mandir’s work area, and, too often, powerful private interests prevail over what is best for the community. In the representative story of Dadmiya and Baansariya villages, told below, a politically connected individual usurped the right to fish farm a dam, denying the community resources and livelihoods.

Seva Mandir’s Response

With the backing of Seva Mandir field workers, 40 women from two Seva Mandir self-help groups decided to fight for their rights. Over a remarkable three-year struggle, they endured threats and physical assault, organized mass demonstrations and fought a court battle. In 2009, the self-help groups finally won the right to their community’s resources. 39 women now fish farm the dam, and have been able to build new homes with Rs. 2,000,000 granted by the Government’s Department of Fisheries. This is not an isolated story: 145 people in total have won the right to fish farm six different dams across Seva Mandir’s work area. Their struggles show the power of community solidarity, and speak to the underlying social changes taking root in the communities where Seva Mandir works.



Kaya, like most villages where Seva Mandir works, has an acute shortage of livelihood opportunities. Most people are subsistence farmers or migrate to the city for daily wage labor.

Seva Mandir’s Response

A soy processing micro-enterprise selling soy milk and tofu was set up in Kaya in 2010. The enterprise provides a livelihood to two local youths who earned a revenue of Rs. 126,882 ($2,200) in 2012-13. In addition to regular clients, such as a local university, the enterprise sells its products to Kaya Training Center, where Seva Mandir runs its Residential Learning Camps for hundreds of out-of-school children, and the Seva Mandir-run Balwadi preschool in Kaya. In this way, the enterprise is also addressing severe malnutrition in Kaya, which affects about 20% of children.

Looking ahead, the soy enterprise hopes to capitalize on its proximity to the Udaipur market (20 km) and the comparative advantage of soy versus milk products (up to 50% less expensive) to expand production and add more local livelihoods to its payroll.

  • Delwara Heritage and Community Walk (brochure)
  • Sadhna: Changing the Fabric of Women’s Lives (news article)