(Updated: Nov 20th, 2015)
Business is run for a profit motive, that is for certain. However, some businesses are breaking the stereotype. Along with giving quality products and making money, they have a more altruistic angle. Businesses have realised that giving back to the society is just as important as taking from it. Here are some small businesses that give back to society.
The Retyrement Plan – Making furniture out of recyclable material
What they do: Make furniture and home décor items out of waste materials, especially tyres and plastic. Their products include chairs,pouffes,charpais and floor cushions.They aim to make contemporary designs out of old material.
Their cause: We all talk about the need to recycle, well, The Retyrement Plan has made it into a viable business. Recycling automobile tyres, plastic products, and industrial cast-offs by making useful items out of them. They are doing their part to reduce carbon footprint.
Indian Artizans – Supporting art and empowerment
What they do: Online store for Indian handmade and handwoven clothing.
Their cause: Proceeds from sales go towards supporting an Artisan's livelihood, preserving a dying art, supporting women empowerment (many of their creations are exclusively made by women), and taken a step towards saving the craft history of India.
Woman Weave – Empowering rural women using handloom
What they do: They sell handloom products like scarves, sarees and fashion accessories. One can buy their products online.
Their cause: Working toward making handloom a profitable, fulfilling, sustainable, and dignified income-earning activity, particularly for women in the rural areas of India. They have a plan set on how they can go about this. They create a community of weavers and connect them with potential customers. Craft skills training, and organisational and design assistance is then given to the craftsmen. They find out which are the more marketable products and generate selling opportunities and market connections in India and abroad that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Katna's Kantha – Making street survivors into artisans
What they do: They sell Kantha, saris, cushion covers, duvet covers that will remind you of a grand Bengali home. The label Katna's Kantha was born in a village named Katna in West Bengal, India. It represents the collective effort of a growing network of women, from Katna and neighbouring villages in the district of Murshidabad, in making Kantha, the famous Bengali embroidery.
Their cause: Katna's Kantha, a Street Survivors India project, is a livelihood generation programme. It uses a traditional and evolved skill of village women to economically empower them. Street Survivors India strives to work with communities in Murshidabad through a holistic approach.
Porgai Crafts – Encouraging tribal craft
What they do: Tribal designs for pillow covers and bedsheets.The brand Porgai is part of the Tribal Craft Initiative, which seeks to revive Lambadi embroidery.
Their cause: They believe that the Lambadi tribe should be proud of their tribal heritage. They fear that the lost art of their distinctive designs would be lost forever, especially since only a handful of old women remember how to make it. Hence, to uplift the economy, this tradition is now being revived by the Tribal Craft Initiative, with the older women teaching the younger women.
Aurea Blue Pottery – Reviving Jaipur's craftsmanship
What they do: They make exquisite blue pottery that can be used for home décor and gifts. Based in Rajasthan, the beautiful craftsmanship behind their work will enamour you. The word Aurea means splendid and beautiful, and this can clearly be seen in their products.
Their cause: Using the beauty of art, they aim to bring back the glory days of Jaipur's Blue Pottery. The venture helps them collaborate and provide a livelihood to craftsmen. They seek to empower them with their design and marketing efforts. Their designs and forms focus on aesthetics, marketability, utility and durability. The reasonable profits they make help them bring sustainability to this venture.
Varnam – Working with artists from Channapatna
What they do: They are an award-winning social enterprise that train and work with artists from Channapatna to revive the 200-year old craft of making wooden toys, home decor, and jewellery.
Their cause: All proceeds from sale of Varnam products is routed back to designing and funding more products from these artisans . The endeavour is also to keep them employed so that they don't leave their traditional crafts for industry/factory 'jobs'.
Purkal Stree Shakti – Women artisans find support here
What they do: With inspiration from India’s colourful culture, the Purkal Stree Shakti artisans hand-stitch quilts, bed covers, silk comforters, handbags, and home accessories.
Their cause: Purkal Stree Shakti (woman power) is a women-empowerment program in rural India, which aims to support women artisans to create and sell hand-made quilts and handicrafts.
Maya Organic – Helping artisans earn a livlihood
What they do: They make wooden toys from Channapatna, educational aids and home accessories.
Their cause: Maya Organic is a livelihood development initiative. They look at developing a network of artisans, workers and micro-entrepreneurs who can make great wooden products. Currently, Maya Organic is working with the artisan community in Channapatna – a small town near the city of Bangalore in India.
Indie Eco Candles – Teaching underprivileged women the art of luxury candle making
What they do: A treat for candle lovers! They make luxury candles are handcrafted with 100% natural vegetable wax and infused with the finest fragrance and essential oils.
Their cause: Indie Eco Candles seeks to empower, instead of just help. They wanted to go one step further than just giving money for charity. They employ and train women from underprivileged backgrounds. They make sure to provide the staff with safe and respectable working hours, decent pay and essential mentoring for their children.
Srikriti – A mix of women empowerment and eco- friendly
What they do: They are known for Handmade Jute and Cotton Bags, Jute Footwear, Wooden Toys, Cotton Sarees,Scarves & Dupattas
Their cause: A women empowerment Initiative,they promote eco-friendly, handcrafted products. They support rural art and craft and promote handmade, environment-friendly products. Srikriti also encourages entrepreneurship and wants to nurture Indian heritage and culture.
Ovenderful – Baking for a cause
What they do: A home bakery based in Bangalore that makes delicious confectioneries. They make tea-time bakes and healthy and organic bakes.
Their cause: They are involved in social and animal welfare causes. They have been conducting fund raiser bake sales for the past few years, for animal rescue organizations. They have received started partnering with The Bake Collective, which is a community that also uses bake sales to raise funds for social causes.
Bhushavali Eco Fashion – Protecting mother nature and local artisans
What they do: They specialise in Eco Fashion, Khadi-Fashion and Ethno Contemporary Fashion. They strive to make products that don't harm Mother Earth.
Their cause: Work with Khadi and Handloom weavers to make eco friendly products. Their projects have helped artisans in Tamil Nadu and Kerela .They believe that India lives in villages. 75% of Indians are in rural areas. Any growth in India can never be brought unless this 75% is brought into consideration.
Seven Promises – Training special children to make handicrafts
What they do: They make wedding cards. They know that weddings can be stressful and try to help the customer every step of the way. Every proof is sent to the customer for approval and there is no cap on the number of times the proof changes. They share the joy with every customer in each and every invitation.
Their cause: They work with an NGO that specialises in training special children in crafts and sells their products online at zero profit. The school is in Noida. Handcrafted products that look like they've been made by a pro, because the kids have been tutored that well.
Maansi Designs – Keeping up the legacy of the sister they lost to cancer
What they Maansi fulfils all your festive needs with handmade products hoping to bring joy and hope into your lives. They offer paintings, jewellery, gift items, clay art work and much more.
Their cause: They started this small venture among 5 cousins in loving memory of their sister Manasa who just left them in April '15 after a brave fight with cancer. She would periodically visit Shirdi and distribute money to the poor and disabled near the temple premises. They want to carry forward the same by distributing a part of the money earned through this venture.
AnuRadha – Weaves of modern fashion by local skilled craftsmen
What they do: Targeting the women's fashion industry, AnuRadha makes a modern style statement using traditional fabric to its full potential.
Their cause: AnuRadha believes that Indian craftsmanship has a beautiful story to tell. However, this story isn't being told because we blatantly ignore the storytellers, i.e, the Indian craftsman. Shining a light on superior Indian craftsmanship, AnuRadha tries to give craftsmen gainful employment while giving Indian traditional textiles the respect it deserves.
Omana – Making slum women learn entrepreneurship
What they do: Toys making, candle making, different handicraft items, stitching and other which have a good market. They search for new locations like Diwali fairs, Teej- melas or any other haats or bazaars for them where they can show their products and get lot of exposure of market trends and demand for particular products.
Their cause: They provided trained persons to teach these slum woman how to maximise their skills. These women learn as fast as they have a very strong urge to prove them against all odds. They tell us that by making these products they have changed their lives as they make money by selling these products and now they have better living standards, respect in their families and enjoying good self- esteem. They are introducing these products in e-commerce marketing as well.
Samoolam – Developing livelihoods and the environment
What they do: Handmade crochet jewellery and accessories are their products.
Their cause: They strive to seek progress in two fields–livelihood and environment. For livelihood, at present more than 60 women have joined ‘Prosperity- The livelihood initiative’. They train women with handicrafts skills. After one year of intensive skill building session they are able to craft beautiful handmade crochet jewellery and accessories. In the environment arena, they work with youth and school children on environment awareness, conservation and waste recycling programs under ‘Harita- The green initiate.
Rungg – Handcrafted shoes by local craftsmen
What they do: Rungg is the perfect blend of art and style, They make designer shoes for women using art forms that are centuries old.
Their cause: Instead of mass producing shoes, Rungg looks to the local craftsman for their designs. Their lovely collection is concocted by artisans and manufacturers in Delhi. They provide employment to the underprivileged through their business.
Seema Circle – Training low-income women to make beautiful jewellery
What they do: If there was ever jewellery for a cause, it is this. The collection from Seema features meticulous paperwork, semi-precious stones, Swarovski crystals, and sterling silver components, sourced from stores in Pune and Mumbai and handcrafted by local silversmiths.
Their cause: They believe everyone has the potential to be an artist and an entrepreneur. Seema now works with over fifty low-income women from eleven rural villages near Pune, India, beginning with its artisan training program. Instead of providing a marketplace for experienced jewellers, Seema works with freshers to give them the same opportunity.
The Crochet Company – A design house that powers the rural cottage industry
What they do: Crochet has always been a handicraft darling. The Crochet Company brings it into style for women, babies and homes.
Their cause: Their artisans are mostly rural women (mostly based out of Andhra Pradesh) who currently do crochet as an alternate source of income.
Ada – Tales of Kutch tribal artisans in footwear
What they do: Handcrafted authentic Indian footwear designs. Their first collection is called Tales Of Kutch.
Their cause: Collaborating with Indian artisans to make hand-sewn footwear.Tales of Kutch was inspired by the tribal artisans of Kutch.
Gramshree – Handicrafts to make women economically empowered
What they do: Various handicrafts made by rural women trying to find the path to economic sustainability through a respectable profession. Their product include apparel, home furnishing, accessories, corporate gifts and kachhi crafts.
Their Cause: Gramshree has a lot of feathers in their cap, all converging to one cause: help women become economically sustainable. Through training and programmes, they hope to give women a respectable source of income. They also want to strengthen the crafts tradition in India.
Tania's Clay Studio – Working with under privileged women to make eco-friendly clay products
What they do: Tania's Clay Studio makes arty floral clay pieces. Each piece is the result of a good cause–eco-friendly and empowering. They make handcrafted designs, according to requirement.
Their cause: Their aim is to provide underprivileged women with financial independence. They teach them while employed and work closely with them .They have English classes , medical services and other perks too.
Great line up of products from organisations who have their heart in the right place, don't you think? Thanks to all the comments for adding some valuable businesses to this list. Have we missed any organisations? Let us know in the comments below.