Sustainable development: Aide et Action strengthens the skills of bamboo craftsmen in four Indian states

Photo credit: Nilam Patil 

Aide et Action is offering a program in four states of India to enable entrepreneurs and companies in the bamboo sector to develop their business in a sustainable manner. Here is a look at two women who work with bamboo, a fast-growing ecological material.

Vinita Gorkhe has always dreamed of becoming a businesswoman. It is not unusual to have such dreams, but Vinita belongs to a marginalised caste family in a remote village, Bhoura, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. With limited access to resources and gaps in certain skills, Vinita had very little chance of seeing her dream come true. Her monthly income as a bamboo craftswoman was very low, around Rs 3,500 (about '42).

She attended a 10-day advanced training course organized by Aide et Action on bamboo making and marketing. To overcome the difficulties in obtaining institutional credit due to lack of collateral, Aide et Action encouraged Vinita and other women in the village to form a collective. The association then helped them to apply for a government financial assistance programme to promote women's entrepreneurship. Under this programme, the collective obtained a loan of 250,000 rupees (just over '3,000) from the State Bank of India.

Vinita then expanded her production base and now markets her products directly to large traders and buyers in several markets in her village, but also within a 40 km radius. His monthly income is now Rs. 9,500. Despite his As a single mother, Vinita is able to provide a quality education for her 10-year-old daughter and has gained confidence, which helps her in decision-making at home and in her business.

Bamboo, a very ecological material

During the last three years of the project "Promoting bamboo-based micro, small and medium enterprises clusters for sustainable development", Aide et Action has helped 844 artisans, including 702 women, in the 4 states of intervention, to set up their enterprises. These enterprises have provided employment to 2,268 people.

Infographic - Bamboo - Sustainable Development

Strengthened skills

The Priyadarshini Award récompense les réalisations significatives des women entrepreneurs from South Asian countries. Women entrepreneurs from various sectors are rewarded for their economic performance and their contribution to growth and social development. On 24 March 2022, three women who benefited from Aide et Action's training, Gelhei Ray, Neelam Patil and Dongche Yanik, were awarded the Priyadarshini prize for their outstanding performance in the field of bamboo handicraft.

Gelhei Ray, a craftswoman in the state of Odisha (eastern India), is part of a group of women who produce traditional bamboo basketry, used mainly in agriculture and for religious purposes. A study conducted by Aide et Action showed that these products only met a seasonal demand, corresponding to the harvest period and festivals. The proposed strategy was to introduce products for which there is a constant demand throughout the year and to build skills of the Gelhei group. The Gelhei group was trained to produce tree guards for a green belt project in the state of Odisha. A loan was granted to the Gelhei group, which started the production of bamboo tree guards and received its first orders. Gelhei has continued to innovate by producing low-cost, carbon-neutral bamboo packaging. Demand is strong, with buyers keen on Gelhei's packaging, especially for weddings. Gelhei now has a steady salary, nothing like what she used to earn. She can now afford to send her son to a reputable college, also providing him with tutoring. Her new income has also enabled her to save for her retirement and health.

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