Indigenous communities constitute 8.6% of the Indian population – 104 million – which is the largest in the world. They are the last stewards of complex systems of biodiversity which hold the heritage of our planet. Last Forest Enterprises Pvt Ltd is committed to ensure that these traditions continue to thrive, and to create livelihood opportunities for the local communities. Women on Wings and Last Forest have started collaborating on their joint goal of increasing the number of jobs for women in rural India.
Women run village centers
Last Forest Enterprises Pvt Ltd (Last Forest) creates sustainable livelihood opportunities by connecting communities in the Nilgiri mountains, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, with fair trade markets for organic and wild forest products, like handcrafted beeswax soaps and balms, various sorts of unprocessed wild honey, hair care, essential oils, and coffee. The production and value addition take place at village level production centers. These centers are completely run and operated by women who now, do not have to go out of their villages to work in nearby estates. They are now able to earn an income in their own village while taking care of their homes and children.
Sustaining ingenious communities
Last Forest supports indigenous communities to sustain themselves by empowering their skill sets and bringing economic growth. By reinvesting over 30% of its profits in community development, the social enterprise ensures improvement of health and education and generates pride, dignity, and sustainable income for producers in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. This Biosphere Reserve, in the Nilgiri mountains of the Western Ghats in South India, is the largest protected forest area in India, spreading across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
Women making soap from beeswax | picture courtesy: LastForest