A Kashmiri young man has carved a niche for himself by overcoming odds. Pune-based social entrepreneur Nandan Bhat creates valuable fashion accessories from single-use 'plastic waste'. His company EcoKaari's motto is 'humanising fashion'.
EcoKaari produces bags, home décor items, table mats, cushion covers, laptop bags, etc.
Nandan's passion for traditional handicraft of India and sustainable living has led to a successful venture, through which he has achieved multiple goals not only for his company but for society as well. He has been reaping rich dividends by following 'Vocal about Local'. Charka (the swindle) and handloom are his companies two eco-friendly resources, which reduce carbon footprint.
The pandemic posed a challenge to his enterprise when he had to close it. However, he bounced back and put his company on a growth path again with determination. He is confident that EcoKaari's turnover would be over Rs 1 crore by the end this financial year.
In 2013, he was a consultant for a CSR project of a company. He came in contact with some NGOs, where he got this idea of launching a social enterprise. "Initially, we were apprehensive whether people would buy our products because they are made from 'waste'. Then we had to teach weaving to people. Traditionally, there are only two communities in Maharashtra which sustain on weaving. We did not know whether persons belonging to other communities would be willing to do this job."
Nandan and his colleagues chose a couple of villages around Hinjawadi (the IT hub) near the Pavana dam in Pune after conducting a survey. They used to give villagers ready-to-weave waste plastic. They installed handloom units at villagers' homes.
Narrating the initial hiccups his enterprise faced, Nandan said, "Trouble began after a couple of months when other villagers started raising objections against the villagers who were weaving, saying that how could they handle 'garbage' as the job is done by lower castes. Things went to such an extent that members belonging to these weavers' communities started boycotting them and refused to have matrimonial alliances with them or their family members." That project failed.