Airbnb has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA) to expand its network of homes in rural India. Launching in Gujarat, Airbnb and SEWA will work with (and train) SEWA members to offer their homes to Airbnb’s international and domestic guests. SEWA has a membership of 2 million poor and self-employed women members across 14 states of India.
Airbnb and SEWA plan to create visibility and demand for the SEWA homes through joint partnerships with various State Governments, academic institutions, media partners and other civil society organisations.
SEWA: for Airbnb Experiences?
The release quotes Heena Dave, Rural Organizer, SEWA saying “Partnering with Airbnb will provide our members the opportunity to meet travellers who want to explore the real India and experience the traditional life of local communities.” This suggest that this deal is also about Airbnb’s experiences business: Earlier this month, Airbnb launched Trips to offer customers tours and activities including local experiences. Presently, it has launched Trips with around 500 experiences in 12 cities worldwide. It plans to expand to 50 cities next year, including New Delhi.
Experiences allows users to book experiences designed and offered by local experts and chefs, and includes categories like arts & design, fashion, entertainment, sports, wellness, nightlife, food & drink, nature, lifestyle, history, music and business. These aren’t tours, but actually working with locals in, for example, trying out new foods, painting a mural, buying a dress etc.