Two Women on Wings’ partners, Richa Saxena, Founder of the brand KOSH – the treasure of khadi, and Anjali Singh, CEO at Jute Artisans Guild Association, have been selected in the top-75 of enterprising women in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) during the Global Investors Summit, the flagship investment summit of the Government of UP. Both were selected by the UP Khadi and Village Industries Commission, a governmental organization charged with the planning, promotion, organization, and implementation of programs for the development of khadi and other village industries in the rural areas.
The selection criteria included the impact the enterprises have created in the lives of women, the positive change in the rural areas and the uniqueness of the products.
The importance of khadi fabric
Both Jute Artisans Guild Association (Jute Artisans) and KOSH – the treasure of khadi (KOSH) produce khadi fabric. Khadi is a hand-woven natural fiber cloth originating from the eastern regions of India. The cloth is usually woven from cotton and may also include silk, jute or wool which are all spun into yarn on a spinning wheel called a charkha. Before India’s independence, khadi manufacturing gained momentum under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership as a movement to boycott British clothes. It was then the fabric of freedom fighters and the rural people.
Gandhi developed the concept of khadi to provide employment to the unemployed rural population. Once the symbol of self-reliance in India’s independence struggle, khadi is now the darling textile of India’s fashion houses. Today, large-scale apparel manufacturers are using khadi in new collections and product lines.
KOSH and Jute Artisans are both social enterprises that aim to empower women through work. Alongside women’s empowerment they also work on creating sustainable and environment-friendly products. KOSH’s products are 100% organic, free from chemicals and produced with zero waste by rural communities of North India.
KOSH offers cotton khadi – completely hand-made – fabric. It is made from certified organic cotton grown in Gujarat and Rajasthan, hand-spun into yarn by poor and marginalized artisan communities and hand-dyed using pure, natural colors made from dried flowers and leaves. Handweaving is done using zero- waste processes, by specially trained women weavers in Barabanki district in UP.
Jute Artisans is a social enterprise encouraging poor rural women of Barabanki and Lucknow districts to fabricate jute products to earn a supplementary income for their families. They are using the natural and recyclable golden jute fiber to make a variety of fabric designs for official and industrial purposes.
Women cultivate these easy to grow jute crops. Then Jute Artisans’ craftswomen manufacture jute bags and other items as alternatives to pollution creating plastic products. Besides economic empowerment, Jute Artisans also provides capacity building and skills training to women.
Khadi and women
KOSH and Jute Artisans are creating employment for women by producing khadi fabric and products. Gandhi felt the khadi industry would be able to utilize and harness the unlocked potential of millions of women. As he stated: “Through it I can provide work to the semi-starved semi-employed women of India. My idea is to get these women to spin yarn, and to clothe the people of India with khadi woven out of it.”
Women on Wings feels privileged to work with entrepreneurs like Richa Saxena and Anjali Singh who are bringing into practice what Gandhi aimed for decades ago.
Picture is a snip from all 75 enterprising women at the Global Investors Summit. Anjali Singh is seen front row in orange sari under the ‘N’ of ‘NEW’. Richa Saxena is seen front row in violet/salmon sari under the ‘S’ of INDIA’S.