Giving back to the village – The DNA of our social Enterprise

My dream has always been to build a sustainable company that grows through symbiosis where we produce bathing bars and in the future our travel soaps will be sold in coconut shells which will sprout it’s own vertical. The products must be handmade as much as possible, made in a village with the local populous. But here is the most important thing, CSR needs to be built into the fabric of the company , an identifying factor that gives back to the village, at the same time, making the employees and people attached to the company more responsible to the development at hand.

“But isn’t this followed in other companies ?” you may ask . Yes, absolutely – but when you go down towards a micro level, that is – village level it becomes even more important. I work with the women of the village who are uneducated , but this has never stopped them from thinking for themselves. Rekha Di would tell me, ” We can only think of something different when someone different widens our perception, else we are stuck in our own village”. (albiet in Hindi and in simpler terms). Now, ₹5 from every product we sell goes towards the school or a goal we want to accomplish for the village. The amount will also vary depending on the revenue of the firm but the floor is set at ₹5. As much as donations would do that for us, we do not want to go down that route. We need to stand up for ourselves and if I cannot get my employees and the people to understand social responsibility, then what am I doing here?

Let’s consider this scenario, — I build a school, take pictures and share it with the people who have donated towards it and what then? Who are the teachers? Are the students going to school ? Are they learning ? What is being taught ? Ho w can they grow and develop ?. We are not an NGO nor an education centric organization but what we can do is hold people accountable and make use of the resources already available. As I write this, the school in Udaypur has no electricity, the switch boards are broken and so are the tables and chairs. But it is a school , at one point it was built to be a school and a data point. No one has taken accountability and responsibility for it’s deterioration. Now as a person from outside , I could do my part and even run from pillar to post, but I feel that it is the village people who need to step up and develop the school. They need to take a pro active role in the development of their children , like in urban India. The ₹5 is meager but a start not just to constantly provide for a goal to be achieved such as buying books etc but bring to the notice of the people who work with us that they need to play a part in their own, as well as the village community growth.

The ₹5 also signifies a relationship between our customers and our company. We do not want to just be a social enterprise that says, ‘we provide income and livelihood opportunities to the village women, so buy from us’. We want to be answerable to the people who purchase from us. They need to know how they are helping just by their purchases thus they are valuably creating a systematic change in our village as well . Giving back to the village is paramount and that ₹5 helps in giving back in a ‘consistent, continuous and constantly monitored basis’.   

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