In 2012, Swathi Jyoti received an award for the Best Urban Community Micro Enterprise from the Citi Foundation, which honours exemplary community micro enterprises and the significant role played by organisations in nurturing and promoting them.
Swathi Jyoti was selected from 130 other urban micro enterprises in the country for this award, based on its work towards economic empowerment of vulnerable women, in this case women in sex work.
This award was presented at the Citi Micro Enterprise Awards (CMEA) ceremony held in 2012 where four community micro enterprises and one innovative livelihoods enterprise promoter were felicitated for successfully building self-sustaining businesses, creating employment and for their meaningful contributions to their communities. The Honorable United States Ambassador to India, Nancy J. Powell, together with CEO of Citi India, Pramit Jhaveri and the Governing Council Members of the Awards programme presented the awards.
Most sex workers do not get the benefit of financial services, and even fewer receive respect when accessing them. They often resort to informal loans, which drives them to further debt or to survive by making risky choices. Swati Jyoti was set up to remove financial compulsions that drove women towards unsafe sex work.
Run by Swasti and Swathi Mahila Sangha (SMS), this micro enterprise offers financial services through drop in centres at their doorstep. Women can easily withdraw money, reducing pressure during lean days and thereby helping them negotiate safe sex.
This micro enterprise was set up by Swathi Mahila Sangha, a community organisation of women in sex work and incubated by Vrutti and Swasti. It offers life-saving financial services to more than 11,000 women in sex work.