Sellers help Rajasthani NGO by selling local handicrafts online
There is a profound saying “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for life”. Mrs. Rashmi Jain, a housewife from Kota, is a living example of applying this saying in real-life. Belonging to a traditional Marwari family, she saw the plight of Rajasthani women who were below poverty line and she wanted to help them in any way she could. Being a creative person herself, she taught ladies in her locality to create Rajasthani handicraft items like gota jewellery, diyas, meenakari thalis, potlis and much more in the late 90s. Over the years, this initiative of hers turned into an NGO called Arihant Mahila evam Baal Samiti. She forms groups and trains the women in the villages of Rajasthan. Mrs. Rashmi would also get some government projects, the end products of which would be sold in ‘Gram Melas’ (local fairs), district exhibitions and the likes.
This NGO was being run by government funds alone. Despite the governement help, there was a dearth of steady flow of donations. Years later, Mrs. Rashmi’s daughter, Shilpa Jain and her husband Vinay Bhulyan, who live in Mumbai, started helping her run the NGO by selling these Rajasthani handicrafts on Amazon, under the seller name “Bombay Haat” to give the local ladies more visibility.
Shilpa, who inherited her mother’s knack for creativity, designs the products and sends samples of the same to her in Kota. She also helps her by sourcing raw material like the cloth, beads and other accessories as they are easily available in the local markets in Mumbai. “I have always been passionate about creating beautiful things and it feels great when people buy these items on Amazon from our inventory”, she smiles. Vinay takes care of a majority of the Amazon business. He also supervises the stocks being sent to Kota and the finished products received. Although Vinay has a real-estate agency of his own, he dedicates a lot of his time and effort on Amazon because it is not just about the business but also about how it is impacting the lives of many ladies.
The ladies who create these items are not even allowed to go out of their homes because of orthodox traditions which are followed. More often than not, these are wives of rikshawalas, auto drivers or daily-wage labourers. A per-item profit goes to the ladies who make the products on a daily or weekly basis. “By doing this work, these ladies are able to contribute to their families significantly. We feel very good that we are able to help them in a small way”, Vinay says. Amazon, which was a calculated choice for Shilpa and Vinay based on market analysis, has proved to be a good online selling platform for ‘Bombay Haat’. Since Vinay listed these products around Diwali in 2015, they were able to get immediate sales. Subsequently, after opting for FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) facility in Feb 2016, they saw a huge spike in their sales. “The introduction of Prime in India has really helped sellers like us to get recognised and be at par with seasoned business owners”, Vinay adds. They started with just 2 products initially and now have around 90 products in their inventory. Additionally, they make an annual revenue of more than 10-12 lakhs, the profit of which goes to the NGO. Shilpa and Vinay want to design more products and add them to the inventory. Their plan is to expand the online business and help more ladies with it.
Mrs. Rashmi, who continues to run the NGO is happy that she does not have to rely on charity and government funds alone for the NGO. Amazon business is contributing towards bettering the lives of many ladies, financially. “My main aim in life is to empower women by creating tangible job opportunities for them. Shilpa and Vinay are helping me do that through the business at Amazon and it makes me very happy that my children are involved in this cause too”, Mrs. Rashmi says. “Many women have learnt this art and have started doing their own small-scale work and that gives me a lot of satisfaction”, she adds.
Vinay and Shilpa: Bombay Haat