Chennai

Here’s how four homemakers from Anna Nagar became entrepreneurs

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The four women are stitching cloth bags and selling them to neighbourhood outlets

Next time you are at a super market and forgot to carry your shopping bag, ask for ‘Kana Bags’. Rolled and fastened with a green sticker, there’s an interesting story behind the team working to get these environment-friendly bags to many neighbourhood outlets.

Last year, around this time of the year, four homemakers from B Sector, Anna Nagar Western Sector were alarmed to see the number of single use plastic covers people were using to store vegetables in the refrigerator (Remember this was before the plastic ban came into effect in January 2019). The four decided to do something. Kalaiselvi, who is from Tirupur, experimented with cloth bags to store veggies in the refriegerator. “We got some 25 bags stitched and shared among us to see a majority of the veggies stayed fresh for three to four days,” recalls Kalaiselvi.

Here’s how four homemakers from Anna Nagar became entrepreneurs

Happy with the feedback they spread the word among friends and started placing more orders to distribute among family and friends. That soon became a business idea for the four friends — Kalai Selvi, Arundhathi K, Nanditha and Anitha — and they called it KANA, an acronym for their names.

“We are also members of B-Sector Women’s Wing and in the past we have done campaigns to get residents to segregate waste at the source, but this is our first enterprise for a social good,” says Arundhathi.

While Kalaiselvi and Nanditha take up orders and campaigns through social media, Arundhathi works on delivering the orders on time and Anitha in in-charge of the accounts.

They put up stalls, marketed the ‘fridge bags’ at super markets and grocery stores in and around the neighbourhood.

The State Government’s ban on single use plastic gave a boost to these first-time entrepreneurs. They expanded to design bags for a range of other products, but made sure they tapped women who were in utmost need.

Raw materials for designing the bags were sourced from Tiruppur and they outsourced the work to deserving home-makers from the city for stitching and printing. They have 14 women who help bring the end product to the customer. Our printer is from Washermenpet, tailors are from Porur and Anna Nagar, they say.

“During good times we have sold 150 sets of fridge bags, each set with six pieces, a month,” says Kalaiselvi. A few supermarkets take regular orders from them. This apart, they get orders from those hosting birthday parties and for special events.

The demand is not so high now, which can be attributed to that fact that post the ban more people have switched to eco-friendly bags. However, they feel, a lot more needs to be done to make people switch to an eco-friendly living. “Initially because of the raid undertaken by the Chennai Corporation compliance was good,” says Kalaiselvi, adding that they are planning to take up more campaigns at Koyambedu market.

The bags are priced from ₹10 onwards and they agree it’s slightly higher than those in the market. “We take a very small margin, the bulk goes to the women,” says Kalaiselvi.

Visit the Facebook page at kanaeco products.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 10:43:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/heres-how-four-homemakers-from-anna-nagar-became-entrepreneurs/article30305302.ece

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