The need of eco-friendly products has never been so important than today when plastic has already choked our cities, oceans, and mountains. This year on World Environment Day, the entire world took a pledge to ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ to combat one of the great environmental challenges that our generation is facing. Continuing the resolution, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh states banned the use of plastics in July while Odisha government has planned to implement the rule from October month. This comprehensive plastic ban also includes disposable cups and plates, cutlery, and packaging. Hence, the products made of natural resources like leaf, coconut, and wood have caught the attention of everyone these days.
Plastic waste has become a major concern in urban areas and people now are looking for options to replace the plastic cutlery with recyclable products. This rising demand of eco-friendly products has created entrepreneurship opportunities for people in rural and semi-urban areas. To boost small enterprises, many corporates and NGOs are also providing technology and skill development programs that help people in their entrepreneurial journey and build a community of rural entrepreneurs. New Delhi based NGO, ‘Dhriiti – The Courage Within’ is working towards its mission of transforming communities by developing entrepreneurial skills in people from diverse socio economic backgrounds.
Dhriiti works with entrepreneurs who identify and convert opportunity into sustainable enterprises to enhance the quality of livelihood. The organization nurtures, incubates, and support potential entrepreneurs through its innovative and professional approach. It endeavors to promote entrepreneurship in different forms and build a spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the communities. With its ‘Financial, Social, Ecological (FSE)’ concept, Dhriiti works with aspiring entrepreneurs who can build transformative enterprises to protect the environment and bring a positive change in the society.
The organization understands that rural areas have great potential but people face challenges like limited access to finance, gaps in skills, unfavorable business environment; low financial sustainability, and lack of planning. Dhriiti team aims to meet such challenges and promote small industries by applying modern management and technology tools. The organization is running various skill development and entrepreneurship projects with support from corporates and state governments. As a part of its endeavor for North East India, it has been working on ‘Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Cluster Development Project’ in Assam.
More than 500 micro enterprise units have been set up under this project to make disposable plates and bowls from the sheath of arecanut trees. Till date, the project has trained more than 5000 people and has engaged 7000 families in North East India. The enterprise has created a positive impact on region’s employability percentage as each unit provides employment to more than 20 rural youths. ‘Tamul Plate Marketing Pvt. Ltd. (TPMPL)’, an institution created under this initiative manages the whole operations in a commercially sustainable manner.
Today, TPMPL markets the high quality products at national and international level under the brand name, Arecana. The project has been the most successful program wherein Dhriiti nurtured the entire project for 10 years and handed over operations to the producers’ institution. Going forward, the program has a vision to build a micro enterprise value chain worth INR 100 crores in North East by 2020.
Additionally, to further push the growth of eco-friendly industries, Dhriiti is working on its ‘Sal and Siali Leaf Plate Cluster Development’ project supported by Odisha Forestry Sector Development Project (OFSDP), Government of Odisha. The project is aimed towards the development of innovative product designs for high end urban areas as well as the international market. The project aims to become a people’s institution in next five years boosting the Sal and Siali leaf plate manufacturing in the state. Dhriiti team will be working with Sal leaf plate producers in two blocks of Keonjhar and Rourkela. The project will be amplified further as a full cluster development program in partnership with various public and private bodies.
Needless to say that making eco-friendly product from leaf and other natural sources not only supports the underprivileged community but also helps in saving environment and reducing wastage. As the plastic is badly affecting our health and surroundings, the use of eco-friendly products has become more like a necessity than a choice. By adopting sustainable habits and promoting eco-entrepreneurship, we can surely give a gift of health and happiness to our next generation.