The Indian economy has undergone remarkable progress in its post-colonial decades. The industrial sector has been a crucial agent as well as recipient of this tremendous growth. However, in spite of this, thousands of small scale industries in India are still unorganised and underpaid. Run with highly erratic funds, one such industry is that of the cow-shelter, or gaushala.
This can be fiercely striking at a time when the whole wide world seems to be chasing organic products. Marvels of ancient Indian medical sciences – cow urine and cow dung in specific, are taking over the world. However, the cow’s ability to nurture humanity has not been rewarded in consonance by humans. Cows are traditionally revered in the country yet, thousands of cows end up in footpaths and alleys struck by hunger and estrangement; a very small fraction of these thousands find asylum in cow shelters.
A haven to 400 abandoned cows, the Jalpura Gaushala in Noida drew the attention of a team of young women from Enactus Indraprastha College for Women. These women, firm in their resolve to bring social change through entrepreneurial action, adopted the cow shelter. Having identified the loopholes in it’s functioning, the team devised a business model to transform its state.
The underlying problem is that funds to sustain this shelter comes from erratic donations and a meagre income generated from selling milk. There exists a ratio of 1:7 between milk producing cows and non-milk producing cows in the shelter. Additionally, over 70% of the total income goes towards the maintenance of the cows alone. This leaves a very small portion for the caretakers to use for their sustenance.
Thus, combining the science of Ayurveda with the competency of modern scientific training, Enactus IPCW launched Project Navroop. The idea was to utilise the tonnes of cow dung and urine, previously expelled by the cow shelter, to generate revenue. This is being implemented by training the caretakers in producing organic and biodegradable incense sticks, floor cleaners and plant pots (using cow dung and urine along with other herbal raw materials).
The training also involves standardisation of production techniques ensuring uniformity and quality of products. This training process is being guided by Mr. Bharat Sharma, who has the expertise of 35 years in cattle farming and Ayurveda. All products under Project Navroop have antimicrobial properties that are both environment friendly and effective.
A holistic series of workshops have been designed to equip the beneficiaries (caretakers) with ideal cow shelter management practices as well as digital and financial literacy to improve their operational efficiency and boost their self-confidence.
The Enactus IPCW team is collaborating with numerous organisations to further their objectives. Long term goals of the project include installing an in-house biogas plant in the cow shelter, diversifying the project into a service-based model and expanding a similar business model in other cow shelters across Delhi and India in the years to come. The team’s vision is to make unconventional products accessible and create flourishing businesses from feasible aspects of unorganised industry.