She accelerates past a couple of other motor cyclists as i clutch the notepad in one hand and the back of the pillion seat with another. In the past hour, she had explained me the various stages which a bamboo goes through right from when the farmer ships it to the unit to becoming a construction component like a robust thrust or a utility furniture or a sleek gazebo or a handicraft item – complete with details of identifying the type, quality and age of it, treatments done, durations and every minute detail of the skill involved. Also she would add details of which product the customer liked more than the other and why while showing them to me. Not once forgetting to give a brief introduction of her team member who is working on it. While i note down the facts on the paper … what my mind registers is an impressive personality. When i was told the production unit manager will show me around, i had immediately formed the stereotype and i definitely did not conjure it to be a woman in her late 20s.
Pravita Nair joined Konbac on the recommendation of her husband’s friend 4 years ago. Fiercely dignified, she says she has quit a lot of prior jobs cause she always had a sense of dissatisfaction and was beginning to think if she will ever find a good employer. Being the bread owner of the family since her father passed away, earning was essential. ‘Sanjeev Karpe sir gives me the freedom which i appreciate the most. I learnt the work directly under his guidance but he has never imposed any restrictions on our approaches as long as the team is aligned to the common vision we all have. The job is not without its ups and downs. But at the end of it, i am satisfied with what i do here and learn every day; and nothing is more important than that.’ Pravita is the coordinator of the activities of KONBAC’s Bamboo Products Common Facility Centre. ‘When i first came to KONBAC, i rode a bicycle through these gates (pointing). Today i have my own motorbike for commuting …’
To replace a traditional supply chain with a proposed value chain, post production processing at supply side itself to give better value to growers, low cost technology innovations, forming producer collectives and encouraging a distinct but perhaps neglected livelihood source; the entrepreneur today has no limit to the wonders that he/she can do, especially in the grameen context. What KONBAC does is trendsetting in that sense. It is on a mission to give bamboo its due credit in India! Over the past 10 years, starting from changing how the western coastal community in the Kudal block of Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra perceives the cultivation and post processing jobs of bamboo to bringing equity investments to Native Konbac Bamboo Products Pvt. Ltd., one of the country’s foremost social enterprises is treading the road less traveled and in the process leaving trails to follow.
Read on here for a complete profile of KONBAC social enterprise which is busy removing the stigma of being a poor man’s steel from bamboo