XVI National Convention on Entrepreneurship and Skill Development by Fair Trade India (FTF-I) – A Report

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Session -3: The post-lunch session on “Successful social entrepreneurship models Innovative models” was chaired by Mr David Wilcox. The speakers included Ms. Uma Prajapati , Founder, Upasana, K S Gopal , Founder, Center for Environment Concerns (CEC), Mr. Yash Ranga, Jaipur Rugs Foundation and Mr Marmik Joshi from Craftroots

Mr Wilcox expressed the need for change in mindset with regard to entrepreneurship and employment. He said that the poor and underprivileged should be recognized for their talent and they should be shown opportunities for entrepreneurship rather than connect them with jobs. This can create sustainable model for grassroots level empowerment through self-employment.

day-2-ftf-i-panel-2uma-prajapathiMs. Uma Prajapati , Founder, Upasana narrated inspiring stories about her passion to make business work for people, by using design for social change. She cited the example of the Tsunamika doll that have become the symbol of gift economy. She went on to describe how all her ventures are sustainable while making a difference in the lives of people:

  • Upasana connects fashion to grassroots community and touch our lives in simple ways while being socially conscious
  • Paruthi works with farmers through organic cotton project
  • Small Steps bags and other initiatives have combined green campaigns while enabling livelihoods successfully
  • Janaki is the retail chain that sells products from various artisans

K S Gopal, Founder, Center for Environment Concerns (CEC), talked about the initiatives at CEC and in particular about the SVAR project. CEC has been exploring alternative irrigation systems for sustainable agriculture since the current irrigation systems depend on luxury of water. Some highlights of SVAR:

  • Highly water efficient irrigation system that retains moisture
  • Automated while working without electricity
  • Combines modern science and technology to educate the farmer about the advantages of the innovative system

Mr. Yash Ranga, Jaipur Rugs Foundation spoke about the impact of the foundation on the lives of weavers and how carpets are not mere products. Weaving a carpet could help someone in earing a livelihood or in buying medicine or pay for a child’s education. He spoke in detail about how Jaipur Rugs has touched global border with a sustainable and scalable model. To mention other key points from Mr Ranga’s talk:

  • Links the poorest with richest with the business model, not tweak the natural lifestyles, go to their doorstep and train them
  • Get the weavers into higher into value chain, 360 degree development social development – education to women, link them government scheme, financial inclusion

Mr. Marmik Joshi from Craftroots shared his experience with Gramshree that was started in 1995 by the Former CM of Gujarat, Ms Anandiben Patel for empowering home based women. These women were taught weaving techniques, textile products and handicrafts. The organization has achieved sustainability with more than 25000 artisans, more than 2000 women. Regarding the objective and roadmap for Craftroots, he said:

  • The objective is promote and save handicrafts of the country through strategic marketing and by opening e-store, airport kiosks India and abroad, exhibition tours
  • It is important to go international through e-commerce, go niche, to create awareness about the process – tell about artisans, geotag the product focus on artisan stories and craft stories
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