Wives of farmers in Nareshwadi near Dahanu now know that laptop bags are in demand in Mumbai apart from wallets. The bags that they spend their days stitching will be sent to students across 16 colleges in Mumbai, who will then find a market for the products. While NGO Enactus India is behind the initiative, the students are the real drivers of change here, as they put their classroom lessons into practice.
Sanyam Sharma, 2nd year MMS student at KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research, says, “We scan the local markets to see what products are being brought. We then give those ideas to Nareshwadi villagers. They have been taught to stitch and are skilled in making laptop bags etc. Once the bags are made, to add more value to it, another group does warli painting on it. The products are then sent to colleges along with the proper invoices.”
Student committees then find ways to create demand for these products. They are sold on the campus as well as the other organisations. They are also at times incorporated in the various projects that they do.
Prof Asha Bhatia, chairperson, Enactus Somaiya Social Cell, explains, “This is a student driven initiative and around 80 students are a part of it at any given time. They implement whatever they learn in the classrooms.”
Students look for corporate tie-ups as well to sell the products and in turn gain invaluable experience that classroom learning cannot provide.
Enactus India, the NGO behind this works with around 16 colleges in the city. DY Patil College, Jai Hind and SP Jain are some of those colleges.
“We help and mentor students as they create business models and research a subject. We also connect them to business leaders,” Bhavna Joshi, regional programme executive for Enactus India.
While the idea is to help students put into practice what they learn, those at Nareshwadi too have stumbled on another source of livelihood.