How this social entrepreneur is empowering over 250 women artisans in rural Rajasthan
Tanushree Jain was studying development leadership at the Indian School of Development Management, Delhi, when the city’s air pollution became a health concern for her, leading to breathing problems.
Seeking a healthy lifestyle solution, she started— a Jaipur-based social enterprise — which makes sustainable, healthy, and handmade utility products.
Tanushree’s entrepreneurship journey began when she was considering aromatherapy to keep her breathing problems in check, only to find that the market is loaded with paraffin and carbon filled beeswax candles.
“Candles made naturally without these chemicals cleanses the air and are good for your lungs. When you light them, they emit negative ions in the atmosphere, which encapsulates the positive ions, and thus purifies the air,” she tells HerStory.
At first, she tried making a few on her own. She would light them for about two hours daily, and would see her breathing go back to normal and asthma in control.
In 2018, she made a bolder decision to quit her job and invest the savings in Nushaura to become a first-generation entrepreneur in the family.
Working with over 250 women artisans in rural Rajasthan, Tanushree is with her family for two days a week, and spends the rest of the time in the villages.
Tanushree found the inspiration and a shared passion to empower the underprivileged in rural areas from her mother, Sunita Jain, who is a school teacher and often visits schools in rural Rajasthan.
In fact, her mother also served as her primary connection with rural women as the duo would visit these places together and would speak to a few women artisans. Tanushree then formed a Self-Help Group for more women to join them.
Today, Nushaura offers a wide range of sustainable products, including aromatherapy candles, soaps, bamboo products, washable masks, and eco-conscious gift hampers. In FY20, the brand clocked Rs 12 lakh in revenue.
Priced between Rs 99 and Rs 2,000, Nushaura’s products are sold on ecommerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, and Brown Living, among others.
The brand operates on a dual model of B2C in the domestic and international markets, including Canada, France, Germany, the US, and the UK. Through its B2B model, it has worked with over 50 companies, including Gaia Conscious, Gyanjee Caterers, and other local corporate offices.
“To ensure efficiency, transparency, and responsibility of the artisans, profit gets equally distributed among them,” she says.
As a social entrepreneur, Tanushree says seeing the impact in the lives of these women who have gone from having no Aadhar card to owning smartphones and contributing financially to their families is the most satisfying part of her work.
“Nushaura provides training on leadership, how to make decisions, and conflict resolutions. Working across 15 villages in Rajasthan and 40 widowed women in the Jain community in Madhya Pradesh, we are creating entrepreneurs along the way,” she tells HerStory proudly.
Being a woman entrepreneur
However, it was not so easy for her. Tanushree’s friends and family raised a typical concern most entrepreneurs face — “Why is she doing this — working in and with the villagers — after years of education?”
On the other hand, fighting her way to start up in a patriarchal society in Rajasthan proved a different ball game for Tanushree. Her interest and enthusiasm for the social venture were met with questions regarding her marriage.
“Whenever I meet my male friends and relatives and tell them passionately about how Nushaura is doing, they would remark all that is fine, but whether I am giving any thoughts to marriage. They think that the best thing a girl can do is find a husband, get married, and have children,” she says.
Moreover, her work is layered with an overprotective atmosphere, where she gets constantly asked why she would bother to go alone to the warehouses and the fields when her brother and parents can take care of things.
Tanushree has forged her path with entrepreneurship and hopes to empower girls and women in rural areas that are even more steeped with gender stereotypes with Nushaura as a platform.
Nevertheless, she says entrepreneurship entails challenges regardless of gender.
“You have an idea you believe in so much that you risk everything and push yourself with time, reputation, and money at risk. I have put my heart and soul into this organisation. People see the end success but not what goes behind the stage — the thousands of failures behind each success and milestone,” she concludes.
Edited by Suman Singh