How Maya Organic provided livelihood to an entire communityAlessio Pieroni
The world is moving fast. We live in the most progressive era of humanity, where thousands of products are created every day: what is new today, will be obsolete soon. If the world is moving fast, the tech world is moving faster. Bangalore being one of the tech capitals of the world is no exception, time here in India’s Silicon Valley is a precious resource.However, just 60 km from there, in Channapatna, a small town of sixty thousand people, time has almost been stopped. Most of the workers here are employed in the production of a traditional handicraft skill named lacware. It consists of wooden toys created using eco friendly manufacturing process and it all happens thanks to a social enterprise: Maya Organic (MO).
MO assists artisans and worker co-operatives to develop and market lacware toys. It also supports skill development of workers and ensures access to health and education facilities. It was created in 2004 with the aim of eradicating poverty and of stopping child labour. Their experience in this field made them realize that providing sustainable livelihoods for the working poor was the key. That’s why they provide support to artisans and small entrepreneurs through marketing, product development, skill training and skill enhancement. “Ensuring quality and involving stakeholders in the decision making processes is essential for sustainable growth. Just by ensuring quality in all our products we are able to generate a consistent market.” says Shahida, from MO.
Maya Organic has always fought against child labour. “We create awareness among artisans, vendors and suppliers that education is important for children and it is mandatory that whoever is working with us should not employ child labor directly or indirectly. We also provide need based educational support for its members to ensure that all the artisans children go to school.” Products of MO are sold all over the world thanks to Fair Trade. They have participated in several exhibitions and also market our products through their website and Facebook page. MO’s toys are made in accordance with international toy safety standards. Their unique selling preposition is the use of natural dyes and finishes.
Another important aspect of Maya, is their focus on women empowerment. 50% of their employees are women and they are given education support, basic business skills and also health and hygiene education. “In the beginning it was very hard to convince their parents and guardians to send them for training out of their homes. Once they completed their training and started earning to contribute some income to their families the whole scenario in the families has changed. Women started gaining respect in the family and also they became an important member in the house hold decision making process.”
Maya is an organization working with a sustainable business model that is able to go beyond its own goal. Time may appear to have stopped in Channapatna, but Maya Organic is running fast towards a sustainable future, and is taking its workers along for the ride.