Building Sustainable Communities: In Conversation With Sonia Konjeti

On 28th April 2021, we interviewed Sonia Agarwal Konjeti – Founder of PULA – Pune Ladies, a private sustainable community of 2.35 lakh women. This lunch with Sonia was hosted by Sangeet Gupta – Community Manager at LikeMinds as part of our weekly Wednesday event called Lunch with LikeMinds Community Managers.

In this exclusive interview with us, Sonia told us:

  • How she thought of creating the PULA community
  • Her experience of monetizing the community to make it sustainable
  • The metrics on which she chooses brand partnerships
  • And her favorite member success story

So, let’s dive right into the story of PULA – Pune Ladies!

If you want to start your sustainable community, then check out the LikeMinds website here.

What Is The Story Of PULA Ladies?

6 years ago, Sonia started the PULA Ladies community on Facebook with the vision of creating a space that the women of Pune could call a second home. She started this sustainable community with 300 members which has now exceeded 2.35 lakh members.

Sonia started this woman support sustainable community network during her maternity break when she realized the deficit of community sustainability in Pune. She wanted to provide a platform where women could connect and communicate with each other for anything and everything, falling under one umbrella.

Her small effort to create a women support group along with her team’s continuous dedication and hard work has made PULA one of the largest sustainable communities in India where women can communicate with each other, be vulnerable, reach out for help, promote and expand their small businesses, etc.

Today PULA has supported over 10.7k verified sellers to start and scale their businesses through the sustainable communities network.

According to Sonia, the three major incentives for any person to join PULA are –

  1. Connect for mutual benefits in Pune.
  2. The desire to make women financially independent.
  3. To help women out with their domestic needs in this current century.

PULA also opened up different avenues for Sonia and contributed to her personal growth, all this includes:

  • Serving as a TedX speaker
  • Winning Women Achievers Award 2016
  • Receiving Unnati Power Award 2017 – Real Architects of The Society, and
  • Being felicitated by Maneka Gandhi

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What Was Her First Experience Of Monetizing A Sustainable Community?

PULA initially monetized on a small scale and revenue was generated from different sources of sustainable communities like paid lifetime membership, events, etc.

She narrates one of the first instances of monetizing PULA as – “Back in 2015 when we started hosting offline meetups to better connect members, we would buy food tickets from the venue at a cheaper price and sell them at a slightly increased price to our members, which was still cheaper compared to the actual ticket amount. For the venue partner, of course, we would offer to increase their brand value through promotions on our platform.”

Sonia further adds, “I was scared to monetize PULA since whenever anyone tries to do something good for people, monetizing the task brings a lot of negative judgment. But the kind of ideas I had were not for making money but were, is and will be to provide support. In order to bring value to your members, some monetization is necessary.”

How Did She Pick Brand Partnerships For A Sustainable Community?

Sonia shared that she filters brand partnerships of sustainable communities network based on two factors – what kind of deliverables the brand is offering and how beneficial those deliverables are for the PULA members. She also pays special attention if those brands could bring in any opportunities for the community sustainability of the women entrepreneurs who are part of PULA.

What Is Her Most Favourite Sustainable Community Member Success Story?

Out of the 10.7k verified sellers that Sonia has supported through PULA, some women entrepreneurs are the sole bread weiners of their families. Sonia feels blessed and happy that she didn’t stop because running PULA has helped them earn their family a living.

Even now every day Sonia receives a message or an email from someone grateful to PULA for how it has helped them in the sustainable communities network.

Sonia adds, “I remember a call with a mehndi artist, Kanchan, who is a part of PULA, where she told me that she had just bought a Baleno car. I congratulated her for getting a new car but my happiness knew no bounds when she told me that she had bought this car with her own money which she was able to raise since she started her own small business which received support from PULA.”

Today, Kanchan has also bought her own house and this story continues to be close to Sonia’s heart.

PULA – Pune Ladies is all set and ready to grow and help more women. They plan on empowering as many women as possible and help them become financially independent. To find out more about Sonia and her take on sustainable communities network, development, and benefits, check out our interaction with Sonia Agarwal Konjeti here.

Also, if you want to make a sustainable community, then check out LikeMinds today!