Seeking a way to dispose of her home waste responsibly, Jyoti found a way to do so with upcycled newspaper and maida glue. What started as a small effort is transforming many women’s lives.
Jyoti comes from a middle-class family in Delhi. She is now a Bengaluru resident. An MBA and a business consultant, she was concerned about waste being dispensed in plastic bags. She took it upon herself to find an alternative which also provided support to disadvantaged women.
Instead of plastic bags, dustbin liners made of old newspaper and maida are being used. They have named this initiative, greenBUG.
Begun initially for their own use, it soon found favor with friends and relatives. When requests began to pour in for large numbers, the project started to expand. Jyoti’s husband, Arun Balachandran, stepped in to support with training more women. He reached out to several NGOs and women of different areas to train them to make greenBUG liners – slum dwellers, illiterate, underprivileged, distressed and rescued women.
They trained them on every small step – cutting, folding, gluing – so that the women became capable of earning. The women can make these bags at home at their convenience. They are not burdened with daily targets, the principle being that they can do as much as they can when they can.
They have set up a process to pick up the bags from the homebound women’s homes. The women can earn about Rs.400 for a day’s work on an average. There is no middleman and the whole process is transparent.
“The women are not our employees. They are enabled to earn on their own terms. About 65% of the price of the bags go to the women.
An initiative that we began to solve a problem in our own home has resulted in partly empowering these women. This is a small but significant step in their empowerment,” says Jyoti.
After the product was launched on www.amazon.in/Saheli, 100 orders were received in just 50 days. Orders have come from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, and other states. Consumers have responded positively from across these states.
In 2016, IIM, Bangalore and Goldman Sachs launched the Women Startup Program. 1700 women did the program. Then 50 women were shortlisted for a boot camp at IIMB. Finally, 15 women were selected in incubate startup idea at NSRCEL, IIMB, starting April 2017. Jyoti was among the top 15.