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Seeing Dharma Life in action

By François Ortalo-Magné

Please take a moment to learn about Dharma Life. Created by Gaurav Mehta MBA2010 and friends from his MBA class, Dharma Life inspires and supports more than 14,000 – mainly female – entrepreneurs across India to address issues fundamental to a healthy life. Through the entrepreneurs’ networks, they educate communities on ways to lead safer lives. Through the education they provide and the products they sell, Dharma Life entrepreneurs improve and save lives across India.

Gaurav and his team work with LBS researchers to understand how different interventions within communities lead them to adopt safe practices. For example, they review the most effective ways to help families move away from cooking indoors on an open fire. They provide access to safer methods of preparing food, showing the communities that it is possible to cook meals without being exposed to the harmful smoke caused by current methods. The researchers also look at the impact that being a female entrepreneur has on the women involved, to better understand and support their journey with Dharma Life.

Gaurav and his team also support one of the highly effective and popular Global Business Experiences for our MBA students. Earlier this month, I was fortunate to join our GBE team and students with the support of the Wheeler Institute. We visited villages around Udaipur, a city in the western Indian state of Rajasthan. We spent time with Dharma Life entrepreneurs and learned about their daily work. We observed how they plan interventions and educate local people on ways to lead safer lives, changing behaviour through solutions. We also spent time in the villages and with village leaders to understand the local context.

One of the interventions we experienced was the Dharma Life cooking contest, Dharma Chef. Four local women cooked their specialities on an induction stove in front of their friends, demonstrating the safer cooking methods in the process. Everyone had the opportunity to taste the food cooked with the new stove and agreed that it tasted just as good! From these interventions, Dharma Life hopes to encourage the use of safe facilities in the communities they support.

Dharma Life leverages and contributes to our research and puts it into action where it can save lives. It engages our students and transforms their lives while generating profits for its entrepreneurs. This is one outstanding example of how LBS is having a profound impact on the way the world does business and the way business impacts the world.