Brijesh is a mother of 2 and a young homemaker in a small village in NW India that has about 200 houses. Most men in this village are involved in agriculture but at times they move to larger cities to find other types of jobs. As for women, they have the option to work in fields during harvest time; however, the majority of them are home makers and are dependent upon their husbands and families for income.
Brijesh had other aspirations though. She’s alway had an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to start her own business. One day she found a basket in a market and came home and reverse engineered it to realize that she could learn how to make them and sell similar baskets. She sought help from an expert basket maker in a nearby town to learn the process.
After her training, she then created a small collection and set up a booth in a local art fair. She was quite nervous since it was her first time doing this and also afraid to lose her investment. Her family was not supportive of her starting the enterprise and investing the money.
This local art fair is where Matr Boomie’s India team met her. She was very suspicious of our product designer, Riya - who started talking about partnering and producing a large number of baskets. Brijesh, however, was very entrepreneurial and undeterred, and agreed to make some samples for us based on our design specifications. The samples turned out great and when we placed orders with Brijesh, she was ecstatic! As the news of her getting Matr Boomie business started to spread, the basket maker who had originally taught Brijesh contacted us to offer the same product at a lower price.
When Brijesh found out what happened, she was horrified and assumed that we would move our business away from her but we made a conscious decision to keep doing business with her. We supported her in developing her business, improve her product design and quality which has helped her to start marketing her own product locally. This collection has done great for Matr Boomie and has resulted in good business for Brijesh.
She now has a team of 15 women producing these gorgeous baskets and her family supports her 100%. The entire community is very proud of her for building a sustainable enterprise where women now have another option to make an income. As Brijesh builds her business, we will continue to work with her to gain efficiency and make her pricing more competitive. It is a process which takes time but she needed a chance to get started. Fair Trade is that chance.
- Manish Gupta