The MBE program was created by Madura Microfinance in collaboration with the Marketplace Literacy Project, USA, founded by Madhu Viswanathan, and Marketplace Literacy Communities, Chennai, and filmmaker Usha Rajeswari of Prakriti Jiva Media.
Madhu Viswanathan has spent more than a decade studying subsistence marketplace entrepreneurs in Tamil Nadu, documenting numerous case studies to determine what hinders their progress, both in terms of mindset, knowledge gaps and common mistakes made. Using these case studies, the Marketplace Literacy Project, a non-profit organization based in the US, and local partners in Chennai developed curriculum specifically for this audience. The curriculum and the research underlying it is documented in a book entitled Enabling Consumer and Entrepreneurial Literacy in Subsistence Marketplaces, published by Springer in a series in alliance with UNESCO in 2008.
Usha Rajeswari is a documentary filmmaker who has worked on projects involving numerous social issues in rural areas. For this project she spent a year talking to microentrepreneurs and Self Help Group women across rural Tamil Nadu to understand their lifestyles, social contexts and attitudes. Melding this with the business messages provided by Madhu and his team she wove a story of the tribulations and triumphs of creating a successful enterprise from the context of a rural woman operating within the ecosystem of a small village.
This film became an anchor point for the training providing a human context and emotional connect that is referred back to in each of the training Sessions through scene clips. In addition to scene clips, cartoons and enacted situations are used to demonstrate concepts.
The Sessions were extensively tested with the target audience to assess effectiveness and determine the required level of demonstration and repetition for effective recall. In addition, several iterations of tweaking and testing were carried out in order to understand how to evoke effective class participation entirely through the digital medium without any other intervention. The resulting product is now effective majority of the time in evoking guided peer to peer interactions at key junctures.