NGO Insights: Apne Aap Women's Collective

Dated : 28 April 2014
  1. Sector and Positioning:

Apne Aap Women’s Collective (AAWC) works with the most isolated and ignored groups of society – a) women from marginalized backgrounds trapped in brothel-based prostitution, b) their daughters who are coerced to take up prostitution at a very young age and c) children in age group of 2.5 - 5 years. AAWC, is among the handful of NGOs working with its beneficiaries who reside in Kamathipura district in Mumbai, one of the oldest and largest red light areas in Asia. AAWC’s mission is to prevent second generation prostitution among the daughters of women trafficked from Nepal and Bangladesh and from within India and empower these victims by offering them an alternate source of livelihood.

AAWC has devised specific programmes for different segment of beneficiaries. Regular counseling sessions and awareness programmes are conducted for the victims to quit prostitution and live a dignified life by acquiring financially rewarding skills like tailoring, weaving etc. To encourage women attend vocational training sessions, particularly Sareelution (a pilot tailoring programme), AAWC compensates attendants for their time by paying a sum of Rs150/- per day; equivalent to their daily income. Young females are encouraged to pursue studies over prostitution and children are provided the necessary care and nurturing at AAWC’s centre. Other than providing financial literacy, health check-ups, vocational training, shelter and organizing recreational activities, AAWC also helps the beneficiaries secure essential identity documents that would help them access public/government services.

The NGO reaches out to atleast 35-40 victims monthly. However, the success rate in getting them to accept help is exceptionally low. It takes 8-10 months for a social worker to convince commercial sex workers to register with AAWC and participate in its self-development programmes. Despite the challenges, AAWC in past 15 years has demonstrated commendable progress by reaching out to several thousand trafficked women and guiding them in living better and empowered lives.

  1. Financial Parameters:
  • Total Income: AAWC’s total income for year ending FY13 was Rs4.4mn v/s Rs3.1mn in FY12, posting a Y-o-Y increase of 41%. During FY13, AAWC participated in high-profile domestic and international events, such as The Oberoi’s Melting Pot, the annual Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, and Vodafone Foundation’s Red Rickshaw Revolution which augmented the income growth in FY13.

Income from foreign sources was the major revenue contributor (45.3%) to AAWC’s total income in FY13, followed by local individual donors (36.5%) for the same period. Income generated from investments i.e. interest income stood at Rs0.8mn (18%) in FY13.  

  • Local V/s Foreign Income: Income earned from foreign sources during FY13 was Rs2.0mn, recording its highest proportion of income contribution from foreign sources during FY10-FY13. On the other hand, income from local sources has remained erratic through the same period. For the year ending FY13, income from local sources stood at Rs1.6mn; Y-o-Y negative growth of -13%. Sources from AAWC shared that the Indian community, sadly, has very little faith in the positive outcomes of rehabilitating women involved in prostitution and thereby do not readily come forward to support AAWC’s programmes.
  • Programme Salaries: During FY13, Rs2.1mn (i.e. 52% of total expenses) was incurred towards paying salaries/honorarium to staff/counsellors directly involved in delivering programme activities v/s Rs0.5mn in FY12. Such high salary cost is justified because of the nature of AAWC programmes conducted throughout the year and which require specialized skill sets. AAWC’s programmes are largely focused on counseling, and are thus human resource intensive.

The Y-o-Y jump in salary costs by 2.7x in FY13 can be attributed to change in the organisation’s accounting disclosures. Prior to FY13, AAWC classified salaries directly under ‘project cost’ along with other programme expense items and no break up was available for the period FY10-FY12.

  • Total Direct Programme Expenses: AAWC spent Rs0.4mn (11% of total expenses) towards programme related activities in FY13 v/s Rs1.5mn in FY12. The Y-o-Y change may look insignificant, but one must not look at this figure in isolation. Taking into account AAWC’s operating model, salaries of Rs2.1mn, (i.e. 52% of total expenses in FY13) paid to staff directly involved in delivering programme activities as mentioned in the point above, must also be considered while ascertaining the NGOs total direct spent on beneficiaries in FY13. Thus, the total direct programme expenses for FY13 was Rs2.6mn i.e. 63% of total expenses.
  • Trust Corpus & General Funds: Trust corpus for the year ending FY13 was Rs6.7mn; increased by 10% from the previous year. AAWC has made conscious efforts to build its trust corpus. However, an inconsistent trend is observed in building the trust corpus since FY10. The reason for de-growth, particularly in FY13 is due to increased number of enrollments and the expansion of services rendered to AAWC’s beneficiaries during the year. It is because of this, AAWC had to cut down on their contribution towards building corpus v/s managing its cost for the year.
  • Earmarked Funds: AAWC’s earmarked funds stood at Rs3.8mn at the end of FY13. The earmarked funds has grown at a 4-Year CAGR of 51% during FY10-FY13, with a positive Y-o-Y growth throughout this period. The growth is largely on account of steady growth of income from foreign sources since FY10. The funds received under FCRA account are used specifically on programme related activities, and the unutilized amount from this receipt is classified under ‘Earmarked Funds’.
  1. Sustainability Parameters:
  • Income Growth Rate: AAWC is a small-sized NGO growing rapidly by reaching out to large number of women affected by prostitution and trafficking. AAWC posted a 4-Year income CAGR of 28% during FY10-FY13. The healthy growth is attributed to AAWC’s constant and dedicated efforts to patiently deal with its beneficiaries and convincing its donors to stay invested in the mission of AAWC; acknowledging that the outcome will be slow, but definite.
  • Self Sufficiency Ratio (SSR): The ratio indicates an organisation’s ability to meet expenses from its own income. AACW’s SSR deteriorated from 129% in FY12 to 69% in FY13. The significant Y-o-Y variation in FY13 was on account of 2.7x rise, both in salaries paid to admin staff and staff involved in executing programme activities. Expense items like travel, fund raising, professional fees paid, along with direct programme cost, also witnessed a considerable rise in FY13 from the previous year.
  • Building Donor Trust: Despite the social stigma attached towards rehabilitation of women practicing prostitution, AAWC, through its programmes has demonstrated successful cases where women have exited prostitution and have made conscious efforts to live a dignified life, thus gradually winning the confidence of their donors. The number of committed donors has gone up over the years.
  • Dependency: It must be noted that since FY10, AAWC has diversified its donor portfolio; reducing dependency on individual donors from 94% in FY10 to 37% in FY13. A low dependency ratio indicates reduced vulnerability of an NGO with regards to receiving donations from a single donor category. 
  1. Major Challenges:
  • Fund Raising: Over the years, AACW have been receiving regular support for its Umang and Udaan beneficiaries. However, donors often have expressed their reluctance in funding programmes focused on rehabilitating Umeed Women. The reluctance is observed primarily because the donors, particularly corporate donors find extremely difficult to quantify the outcome of their donations made towards supporting rehabilitation programmes conducted for female sex workers.
  • Space Constraint: AAWC currently occupies three classrooms in a municipal school situated in Khetwadi, Mumbai. It also has a 24x7 shelter home in the Kamathipura district for its beneficiaries. With BMC’s notice to NGOs to vacate municipal schools, AAWC is currently finding another campus in the same locality to be able to smoothly carry on its programme activities. AACW has made an appeal to the High Court to grant extension until the end of this academic year as this would otherwise disturb the schedule of students appearing for Board exams.
  1. Governance & Reporting Standards:

Ms. Manju Vyas has been serving AAWC as the CEO since 1999. The operations are supervised directly by the CEO. Each Centre is led by the Programme Director. The Managing Committee is comprised of seven members who are elected by the Governing Body during the annual General Meeting. The members meet once every quarter formally and connect informally at least once every month. The minutes of the meeting are documented at the main centre in Khetwadi, Mumbai.

AAWC has an organized way of documenting admission papers for all beneficiaries. The organization is registered with GiveIndia and has partnered with over 30 NGOs and foundations.

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