The innovative work that is being done by Women on Wings’ partner Bastar Se Bazaar Tak in building the natural forest products has earned the social enterprise many awards. Bastar Se Bazaar Tak works with 920 small and marginal tribal farmers from seven villages in India’s state of Chhattisgarh.
With these tribal farmers, Bastar Se Bazaar Tak works on sustainable harvesting, post-harvest value addition, and processing of non-timber forest produce (NTFP) including custard apple, tamarind, and black plum. Through its work, it avoids deforestation and provides employment and sustainable livelihood to tribal farmers in this remote area. The social enterprise aims to reduce post-harvest losses, build natural forest products, and create flexible and supportive local employment through collective action.
TATA Challenge Award
The work of Bastar Se Bazaar Tak gets recognized more and more. Amongst the various awards that it has won is the prestigious TATA Social Enterprise Challenge Award, a joint national-level initiative by the TATA group and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta, aimed at finding India’s most promising social enterprises. Along with the winner’s certificate and a sum of 250,000 Rupees (or almost 3,000 euro), Bastar Se Bazaar Tak won a huge seed fund from TATA Sons, which was topped by IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, and which was an added bonus to realizing further steps in growth.
Another award came from 3M in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). The 3M-CII Young Innovators Challenge Awards 2020 recognized Bastar Se Bazaar Tak in the category of Rural & Inclusive Innovation for its innovative ideas for a resilient India, especially in the light of COVID-19 solutions.
And it does not stop here for the social enterprise. It was selected first runner up in ASSOCHAM Startup Launchpad, which is an initiative to encourage startups and the ASSOCHAM members to work together and create partnerships that is beneficial to both the stakeholders.
The way ahead
So far, 920 farmers have joined Bastar Se Bazaar Tak on its mission. Satendrasingh Lilhare, co-founder of Bastar Se bazaar Tak: “We shall begin a ‘Sitaphal’ (custard apple) plantation and expect 1,000 farmers to join in. Ultimately, we aim to impact 4,000 smallholders’ farmer families by 2024.” To realize this ambition, the social enterprise is expanding its work and shall be working on value addition to the produce of the farmers, like creating pulp through which various types of sugar-free and vegan products will be made. Shops are already showing interest in the products. This new initiative will create extra jobs for women in processing the pulp products. Since April 2021, Women on Wings and Bastar Se Bazaar Tak are collaborating on their joint goal of increasing the number of jobs and create livelihood opportunities for women in rural India.