Rural women from Tamil Nadu create IKEA baskets

In Thanakkankulam village, near Madurai, GreenKraft Producer Company Ltd, a key initiative from Women on Wings’ partner Industree Foundation, buzzes with activity. About 250 women from neighboring villages create baskets from banana fiber which will find their way to global retailer IKEA stores. The women are the face of IKEA’s social entrepreneurship program, weaving a connection with the world through their handmade storage baskets.

Regular income
Only a few years ago, the women from Thanakkankulam village were leading a life full of uncertainty, due to irregular income. It all changed in August 2018 when Women on Wings’ partner Industree Foundation — a non-profit organization that is collaborating with IKEA on the execution of the program — approached the women living within five kilometers of the site. Now, about 250 women are working daily and earn a regular income through Industree Foundation and the IKEA social entrepreneurship program. The IKEA social entrepreneurship program is also collaborating with Women on Wings’ partner Rangsutra.

Role model Kavitha
Kavitha Nagaraj (see picture), a 27-year-old mother of two boys, was one of the women from Thanakkankulam village. She had never worked before, but she picked up the art of basket weaving and even became a master trainer. Her enthusiasm inspired more women in her village and the group of artisans engaged grew in strength as Kavitha moved on to become the quality control supervisor. “I manually and minutely check 50 to 75 products every day and rarely is any rejected,” she says, and adds with pride, “My husband worked the entire day on somebody else’s land and we found it difficult to make both ends meet. Now I am able to reduce the burden on him and pay for our sons’ education.” With a regular monthly income, Kavitha has been able to enroll her children in an English medium school.

Kavitha Nagaraj | Picture courtesy: IKEA