Banking on the fast growing demand for paper bags fuelled by awareness about negative environmental impact, VLE Nitin Patil has started a rural enterprise for making paper bags with women in tribal villages in idea Kapradha taluk in Valsad district of Gujarat.
A VLE since 2014, Nitin has been inspired by the idea of social change in the local community, especially through creating economic opportunities for women to empower them. He chanced upon the idea when a ban on the use of plastic bags was enforced by several Panchayats in the district.
But this isn’t just a pipe dream, Nitin being a true entrepreneur did scoping of the local shops and markets to assess the demand. He then enlisted support of women who were keen on using extra time they had and felt the need for picking up a new marketable skill.
Twenty odd women joined this initiative and underwent three-day training. This included folding and pasting the paper, which were purchased from paper mills and cut in various sizes. The women were trained by VLE Nitin, who has prior knowledge in printing, to make paper bags for various consumers like medical stores, cloth boutiques, sweet shops, hotels and vegetable sellers.
Seeing the inclination of these women, VLE Niting subsequently set up three paper making units, which are functional in the villages of Vadakhamba, Maroli and Nargol in Valsad district. These units now employ around 30 women, who work on different shifts as per their convenience to produce around 100 pieces of paper bags per person.
Once the units became functional, VLE Nitin set about finding customers for the bags. He approached shops, medical stores and hotels in the area and in the last ten days, he has begun supplying these paper bags to around six shops. He hopes to expand the customer base for these bags in the days to come.
The VLE says, “CSC has been like a miracle in life. It completely changed it. I learnt many new things and acquired knowledge. Support from CSC team is always available which makes this association a delightful journey. I am thankful to Government and CSC team for this wonderful initiative.”
Apart from the paper making units, VLE Nitin has also set up a Stree Swabhiman sanitary napkin unit, where he has trained and employed four women from Nanapondha village. The unit, which has been operational since May 2018, produces around 300 sanitary napkin pieces per week. Every month VLE Nitin supplies 100 sanitary napkins among girl students of Model High School in Kapradha taluk. Recently, he has also held a meeting with ASHA workers to inform them about the Stree Swabhiman programme and distribute sanitary napkins through the workers in villages.