MALAPPURAM: Tribal mothers of Attappadi, a place marred by recurring infant deaths due to malnutrition, found a way to fight poverty. An umbrella making unit funded by a group of youngsters in Dubai is giving them a ray of hope. The tribal mothers who used to rely mostly on the meagre amount they earn from Rural Employment Guarantee Programme at unsure intervals now make up to Rs 750 a day.
The capital investment came from expatriates in Dubai who joined hands on social media platform to help them after they read reports of the malnutrition deaths. They provided the Rs 1 lakh as the initial capital, and the unit started functioning last month at Kottathara in Agali panchayat with the help of Thampu, an organisation working with them since 1985.
“We have trained a group of 20 mothers to run the unit, and each one gets Rs 75 on an umbrella. One can make 8 to 10 pieces a day,” says its president Rajendra Prasad said. “Now we have a professionally competent team.” The umbrellas branded as Karthumbi has got an overwhelming response. As a humble beginning, they have sold around 250 pieces so far, and 1,000 more are getting ready for despatch by VPP to those who booked earlier.
“We have no supply chain now. We were a bit late to tap the monsoon market. However, many state agencies and various organisations have come forward seeking more pieces,” Mr Prasad says. Agali panchayat administration has offered more investment and help to market their product.
“Thousands of umbrellas are being supplied in schools and hostels for the tribal students. We are also considering to supply these umbrellas to all 118 model residential schools in Kerala,” he said with the help of the SC department," he said. The makers also plan to sell Karthumbi umbrellas in a professional way throughout Kerala from next year with enhanced production....