Meet the women from a Dalit hamlet in the Tirupati district of Andhra Pradesh, who’re behind the profitable Paalaguttapalle Bags enterprise that gives them a sustainable livelihood

Meet the women from a Dalit hamlet in the Tirupati district of Andhra Pradesh, who’re behind the profitable Paalaguttapalle Bags enterprise that gives them a sustainable livelihood

G Annapurna sits in the nook of a room with mud partitions and flooring and a corrugated tin roof, counting material bags. Beside her, N Rani works on a stitching machine; her head bent in focus over the cotton cloth in hand. Nearby, a number of others break into cheerful banter every now and then as they examine the heaps of cotton cloth earlier than they go beneath the stitching machine to be made into bags and despatched throughout India, some abroad.

Behind the dry, dusty roads of the village of Paalaguttapalle in Tirupati district of Andhra Pradesh is a story of grit of Dalit women who rose above drought and poverty to change into profitable entrepreneurs. Today, the village is thought for the Paalaguttapalle bags which have travelled throughout shores, carrying with them the indomitable spirit of a group of landless agricultural labourers.

Hit by successive droughts between 2010 and 2015, the village noticed many of the 60-odd households migrating to different cities in search of various sources of livelihood. On a night in March 2016, 4 women – G Annapurna, N Rani, Okay Lakshmikantha and N Anitha – sat discussing at the village temple courtyard, when the thought of establishing an enterprise for making material bags happened. With the assist of Aparna Krishnan, who moved to the village 20 years in the past and is a software program engineer by career, the women realised that the finest manner ahead was to utilise the ability they have been good at — stitching.

The women have been fast to rise to the scenario, learnt stitching from one another and acquired machines from their very own sources.

The journey

“It all started with a small order of 100 bags from a pal for his store. Then one other pal got here ahead to assist the women and determined to purchase bags usually, and distribute them free to the native outlets to chop the use of plastic. That sustained the preliminary months. The impeccable high quality of the bags took them additional. And increasingly more orders began pouring in,” says Aparna, who helped the women market the cotton bags by social media platforms.

The Paalaguttapalle Bags of Andhra Pradesh

The Paalaguttapalle Bags of Andhra Pradesh
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

But quickly they realised that to maintain in the future, they wanted to improve their abilities. “Many prospects wished their logos printed. Screen printing was a vital ability. The coaching, nevertheless, was costly; however one other pal who had related on Facebook reached out and provided free coaching at his store in Chennai. Given the remoteness of the village and the issue in accessing something at brief discover, was a problem. But they surmounted all hurdles,” says Aparna. The women rapidly learnt screen-printing and embroidery, and likewise tailored kolam patterns on the bags to cater to the calls for of prospects.

Today, greater than 5 lakh bags have reached prospects throughout India in addition to in nations reminiscent of the USA, UK and Canada. The enterprise, run by 9 women, has helped them tide over difficult occasions, and never simply change into self-sufficient but additionally be a job mannequin for rural women in distant pockets of India.

The Paalaguttapalle Bags

The Paalaguttapalle Bags
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Largest order

The first giant order they’d was from the Organic World Congress in 2017 in Uttar Pradesh, for which they obtained an order of 1,500 Paalaguttapalle bags that needed to be delivered inside a brief deadline. “It was a difficult time however we had only one thought in thoughts — to complete the bags,” recollects Okay Lakshmikantha. From waking up earlier than the break of daybreak to obtain the consignment of material that arrived from Madurai and different components of Andhra Pradesh to spending countless hours on the stitching machine, the women accomplished the order on time and managed to generate a income of ₹2 lakh. In February 2018, they turned a revenue of ₹25,000 at a handloom expo in Goa, which they attended unprepared with little inventory.

Managing the funds and manufacturing all by themselves with the assist of social media connections, the women have received over distant consumers with their innovation, high quality and effectivity.

One small room in Aparna’s residence in the village is the place the Paalaguttapalle workshop stands as we speak. Corporate orders and bulk orders for weddings and events have stored the enterprise rising. They make round 50 sorts of material bags, together with gusset bags, laptop computer bags, sling bags, backpacks, drawstring bags, automotive waste segregation hangers, sari bags and tote bags. The bags are even customised in keeping with demand. The hottest bag is the vegetable bag with compartments in order to keep away from mixing of greens. The Facebook put up on the bag when it was first launched fetched an amazing response.

The Paalaguttapalle Bags

The Paalaguttapalle Bags
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The enterprise fetches the women round ₹5,000 a month, or extra in the event that they get an enormous order. The monetary stability has helped them present high quality training for his or her youngsters and likewise acquire respect in society.

Anitha, one of the women working with the enterprise, says, “We began once we didn’t even have ingesting water at residence or may afford just one meal as agriculture produce had dried up. The bags got here as a blessing for my household’s survival. The earnings helps the training of each of youngsters. My husband helps me by taking care of home chores.”

The Paalaguttapalle Bags

The Paalaguttapalle Bags
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

As the Paalaguttapalle bags travel locations, do they need to shift base to a metropolis? “Paalaguttapalle gave us the recognition and a that means to our lives. We are pleased right here,” says Annapurna.

During the pandemic-induced lockdowns, the women learnt to make material masks by YouTube tutorials and likewise offered selfmade pickles which are preservative-free. Today they’re busy taking orders for quilts and likewise studying to make articles from wooden which they are going to launch quickly on their web site.

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