From a paper collector to starting a stationery business, a tale of grit
Today’s self-employed entrepreneur, Paliben, has clambered up from an enormously impoverished background to ensure a prosperous future for her children. It has been a story of grit and sheer tenacity for this 45-year-old master trainer of waste recycled products. She had begun by collecting rags and waste paper from textile mills and offices in Ahmedabad before recycling them into quilts and stationery products – barely earning enough to make ends meet.
Creating products from recycled waste
Paliben’s life took a positive turn when in 2016, she was spotted by the Ahmedabad-based Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), known for their work with poor, self-employed women workers like her. They trained her to craft sustainable products out of waste paper. “After joining SEWA, I soon realized that I have a natural flair for making things out of paper,” smiles Paliben. Paliben is the main driving force behind the recycled stationery brand. She has a group of women working under her to create and sell block-printed cloth covered diaries, foolscap and spiral-bound notebooks, Khadi paper bags and Khadi paper folders, etc.
I would like to tell women like me to come join us on this new technology [e-commerce platform]...I want them to earn and become self-reliant so that they can educate their children. Apart from bettering our lives, it is also about bettering our children’s lives and brightening their future.
“Currently, I am a master trainer at Gitanjali Cooperative. I develop new designs for stationery products and train hundreds of waste recyclers like me,” she shares. Her children today are deservedly very proud of all that their mother has achieved in life. Paliben has two children, a son and a daughter. “I’m so happy that I can now educate them, and I can see that their future is brighter than mine,” she adds.
Expanding with Amazon Saheli
Gitanjali Stationery reached new heights when it joined Amazon Saheli as a partner. Before joining the program, the extent of Gitanjali’s reach was only across Ahmedabad. Now its reach has expanded multifold, with orders pouring in from all over the country. Amazon Saheli empowers women entrepreneurs across India by getting them into the ecommerce fold, displaying their handcrafted products on the Saheli Store for online shoppers, and helping them manage their online businesses seamlessly. Partner organisations of Amazon Saheli include SEWA, Impulse Social Enterprise, GreenBug, Taragram, Tee-tote-ler, Mann Deshi and Conferderation of Women Entrepreneurs (COWE).