By Sakshi Gupta:
Delhi, India’s capital territory, witnesses extreme weather conditions – from tropical summers to chilly winters. The scorching summer is lucrative for higher consumption of carbonated/aerated beverages. These drinks are sold on a large scale as the common population eagerly guzzles these popular poisons. Unfortunately, these seemingly refreshing drinks are major causes of innumerable chronic diseases. Regular consumption of carbonated beverages can lead to obesity compounded with an increased risk of heart problems as well as diabetes.
The consumption of soft drinks has become a highly visible public health and policy issue in recent times. This ignited the idea of introducing the consumers in Delhi to a healthy alternative to these artificial drinks. In an effort to do so, we initiated Project Imdaad. Through our project, we aimed to develop a nutritional alternative to sugary carbonated beverages. Thus, we came up with ‘Kerala Kan’, a refreshing beverage made from the Indian sarsaparilla, a type of indigenous root from Kerala. The roots contain medicinal properties and are cultivated by a skilled community. ’Sarasaparilla’ works like magic especially due to its cooling effects which protects one from common summer ailments and acts as a natural blood purifier.
With the help of a few of our team members from Kerala, we came across the Kudumbashree community living in a village near Malaba. This community includes a group of middle aged women who are economically weak and under-employed yet highly motivated to work. They are mostly skilled in the process of extracting the syrup from the roots of the sarsaparilla.
The geographical restrictions associated with their rural location hinders their accessibility to the market and availability of resources to generate economic benefits. Furthermore, the roots are highly endangered and exploited by the locals for monetary benefits which adds up to the reasons due to which these women never had a chance to utilize their skills to earn a deserving income.
We, at Enactus JMI approached them to join hands with us, connecting them to another community of women who hail from the Jasola locality of Okhla, South Delhi. These women belong to marginalised families with very limited access to monetary resources and other amenities that one would count for a good living.
We connected these vibrant communities and classified them into different work groups. The ground work is majorly executed by the women in Kudumbashree, Kerala, and the women in Jasola, Delhi, then deliver the final product to our respective customers.
The roots are gently extracted by the Kudumbashree women and transported to Delhi. The women in Delhi, then further process them into a semi-fluid syrup potion. This syrup is purified and used to make the ‘Kerala Kan’ by the women of the Jasola community.
The women of Kudumbashree and Jasola are now more independent as they now have a stable source of income which helps them break away from the shackles of erratic income and underpaid jobs. The Jasola women are now employed and more skilled than before. This has helped them optimize their potential and uplift themselves and their families.
Apart from this, the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), JMI (under MSME) trained them for three months in entrepreneurial skills and small scale business development.
These members were then involved in tasks such as syrup extraction, marketing, selling of syrup at various canteens, shops and cafes. As a result of intense training and rigorous hardwork they have been successful in selling the product in various canteens and cafés as well as events across Delhi and its neighbouring states.
The word ‘Imdaad’ means to help. Through our project, we strive to help our communities by establishing a potential link between them and a demand-and-supply chain through which both the communities are benefited. The social enterprise promoted the ‘Make in India’ scheme by generating employment opportunities , providing the community members with a new skill set and creating an inter-state sustainable business bridge. Thus, we at Enactus Jamia Millia Islamia, created a relationship on economical and social grounds between two distant communities and shall continue to strive to further keep up the good will.