We are a social enterprise. Our members are tribal women from Attappadi, a valley at the foothills of the Western Ghats. Thambu, a well established NGO, one among a few in Kerala with Tribal Representatives in Director Board, led by Mr.Rajend Prasad coordinates our production and marketing efforts. A social media initiative of expatriates from Kerala, the Peace Collective, helps us with marketing.
We have enormously supported by the Kerala State ST department and in particular through the TSP fund (Rs/ 16,40,000 was provided in 2017). Honorable Minister Sri.AK Balan has inaugurated our first sales in 2017 at Attapadi and provided us space for temporary production center in 2018.
We, the inhabitants of this village belong to tribes of indigenous people of this land. Our ancestors survived by farming and living off of the natural resources of the forest. They made a sustainable living for centuries. We were content and happy.
All this changed a few decades ago. The area saw a huge influx of migrants since early 1940s. The immigrants poached our lands. Farming became unsustainable. Urbanization combined with other social changes forced us to look for other options. We found ourselves building this enterprise as the answer.
Karthumbi is first of an array of products we are planning as part of this initiative. Each of these umbrellas is handmade by trained members. A member earns Rs 50 to Rs 70 (roughly $1.00) of each umbrella they build. On a typical day, each of us can build 8-10 umbrellas. This provides a sustainable income for thirty families of the village, which will be broadening every year.
A BOLD NEW WAY OF TACKLING POVERTY THAT’S ABOUT DIGNITY, NOT DEPENDENCE, AND CHOICE, NOT CHARITY.
We believe providing income opportunities to women will catalyze a social change. An earning woman of a family not just brings financial freedom for her family. She can impact the community as well. Studies have determined that providing an income potential to women have reduced population growth. A sharp fall in fertility rate. And a sudden surge in all Human Developmental Index of the society.
Our vision is to convert this initiative into a grass root movement. Hence we are not just building an enterprise. We are building a replicable model that women of other tribes can copy. And we predict there are several thousand tribes of indigenous people across India. They all share the same plight. We want to become the flagship model for them.
We are on a mission to sell 30,000 umbrellas during the monsoon season of 2018. And ramp up the production to double the next year. Our expectation is that we can use our profits from 2018 to open up similar units in two more villages by 2019. We already have a distribution channel to consume our current production rate. But we want to explore other distribution channels as well through the end of 2019. Ensuring few trusted distribution channels is the first step in building the flagship model. And by the beginning of 2020, we will be ready to recruit several hundred tribal units. They will use the material procurement and distribution channels we have built..
The plan is to capture a 10% market share of umbrella market by end of 2022. And by the time, we will have 200 production units spread across India. Each of them as separate profit unit but all sharing the same distribution channels.
To develop a deeper and more meaningful connection with consumers, we believe design must invite them to take part in the conversation.