A social enterprise, Industree Foundation with support from US-AID runs POWER (Producer Owned Women Enterprise) Project that has been designed to empower women of socially and economically marginalized communities in rural areas by taking work closer to their homes and offering them a steady source of livelihood.
POWER project which was initiated in September 2019 is currently implemented in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Odisha. The project aims to empower rural women to become micro-entrepreneurs who, in turn, can collectively own and operate their enterprises. It also addresses restrictive social norms to increase support for women as entrepreneurs while demonstrating scalable models of women’s empowerment through the sustainable use of locally available natural resources. It works towards creating biodegradable products with natural materials in three different value chains, including non-timbre forest products (NTFP), banana bark, and bamboo. It has so far planted 12,000 bamboo saplings and 315 tons of banan bark has been used in production units in Tamil Nadu itself.
The POWER project is driven by a fundamental focus that women’s economic empowerment acts as a springboard for the social empowerment of women while also increasing family education, health, and nutrition indicators. Women producers are trained in hard and soft skills required to run their enterprises. They then meet the exacting standards of quality, timeliness, the right pricing, and compliances for international markets. It has supplied products worth 1 million USD to retailers like IKEA, Caravan, and others around the world from October 2019 till September 2021.
In Karnataka, the National Bamboo Mission and Industree Foundation have partnered to establish a Bamboo Resource Centre in Channapatna to showcase the craftwork of the artisans of the Medhar Tribe. It focuses on the upliftment of the indigenous Medhar tribe, the Bamboo Resource Centre in Channapatna looks to breathe new life into their 900 years old Bamboo craft, bringing a piece of history to modern homes through the marriage of traditional skill, innovative design, and sustainable business models. The center will support over 100 Medhar families in the local areas, providing them with vital income, and social sector safeguards including social security.