Why West Bengal?

Despite significant wealth, India remains one of the poorest middle-income countries in the world. There are over 270 million people classed as living in poverty and an overwhelming 40% (217 million) of the world’s malnourished children are in India (source: The World Bank).

Shivia has chosen to work in West Bengal, one of India’s poorest and most populous states. Despite a legacy of good education and successful industry, the overall social and economic conditions in the state have declined over the last 50 years and 20% of the population remains in poverty or extreme poverty.   This figure is higher in rural areas where there is little access to productive assets and financial resources. High levels of unemployment, illiteracy, inadequate healthcare and extremely limited access to social services are also common among poor rural communities.

Shivia’s founder, Olly Donnelly, extensively researched the factors affecting the poor in rural West Bengal (both undergraduate and Masters theses). On setting up Shivia we also researched effective interventions for reducing poverty in these rural communities. The research identified that people want to work, earn money and improve their lives but lack the ability to do this due to factors such as caste, poor social standing, gender and limited access to education, skills training or finance. This led us to launch our livelihood development programme in the rural villages surrounding Kolkata where the levels of poverty are particularly high.

At Alquity we pride ourselves on finding innovative NGO partners who recognise the need to build self sustaining futures for those disadvantaged by engrained multi-generational poverty.  Shiva’s work has so impressed us because it simply supports and ignites the spark of developmental desire that is ever present in the people they work with. Through providing something as simple as a poultry kit, and the essential training of how to use it, Shiva gives people a route to a better future.

Paul Robinson, Executive Chair and Founder, Alquity

Meet some of our farmers


I had no way of earning before Shivia introduced me to poultry farming. Now I am a full-time provider for my family and they are very proud of my achievement.…


I now have a regular income from selling eggs and some chickens. This opportunity has really changed our lives. I'm managing to buy medicines for my sick child. Thank you!…


"Before this programme we were struggling to cope and owed a lot to the village money-lender.  So much has changed for us now we are earning money from raising chickens."…


"Since joining this training programme I have noticed a great many changes…my costs are down, my yield is up and I am making a profit from farming at long last."…

  • I have witnessed first-hand how Shivia has not just changed but transformed people's lives with its livelihood programmes.
    Yasmine Hilton
    Chairman of Shivia
  • Alquity supports Shivia because they transform lives by giving people the opportunity to do things themselves and they do it with dignity.
    Suresh Mistry
    Director, Alquity
  • We were thrilled to see the impact of the work being done and to meet the team on the ground. It was truly humbling to see the difference being made to so many people by this group of highly motivated and capable people.
    Stewart Brown
    Director, Artemis Investment Management LLP
  • We are excited to support such a strategically-minded and professionally run charity that is making a real and sustainable difference. The focus and design of the livelihood programmes are simple and highly effective – and the results speak for themselves.
    Lars-eric Roden
    Director, The T&J Meyer Foundation
  • Farming is my only source of income... I registered with Shivia to learn how to reduce my farming expenses and produce better quality outputs. I am definitely seeing good results compared to previous years and have learned how to make bio-pesticides.
    AMS farmer
    Familia location West Bengal

some of our supporters