With a dream to make a positive impact on the indigenous ecosystem by building a sustainable business, Sumanth Sampath and Sonali Sharma put in their heart and soul into establishing the Nugu enterprise as an innovative means to solve one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Having worked in the ceramic craft sector for more than ten years, they realised that indigenous communities have great handcrafting skills. However, due to lack of job and business opportunities within the communities, they are forced to abandon their core skills and migrate to cities to take up lower-paying jobs.
In order to solve the problem of unemployment and migration of the indigenous rural communities, the duo started the Nugu Conscious Handicrafts in Mulluru Village in South-West Karnataka in 2017. The enterprise has been able to provide dignified jobs to over 60 people from the indigenous Nayaka and Kuruba tribes of the state, all this while, building a global artisanal brand that meets the rising demand for contemporary handcrafted products.
In less than two years of its existence, Nugu succeeded in creating handcrafted tableware for the best restaurants and hotels across India. Having passed through the hands of at least 20 skilled craftspeople, each Nugu piece embodies timeless design. Made by using a mix of traditional and modern tools and machinery, these tableware promise to last a lifetime.
This is a completely sustainable business model with minimum to zero ecological impact. They use local resources and environment-conscious approaches like recycling to create eco-friendly products, in stark contrast to large -scale mass manufacturing units that import raw materials and produce large amounts of emissions and waste to make products at a lower cost. In the past two years, they have been able to create a permaculture farm by planting 5,000 trees in order to sequester the carbon generated due to the use of kilns. In future, they intend to give free fruit and forest trees to neighbouring communities in order to promote the growth of perennial trees rather than tilling the land and mono-farming.
The firm has also been able to step up to its ethos of a sustainable business model by diligently using locally-sourced raw materials and recycling the waste, thus reducing its fuel consumption. Even the pottery, as well as living spaces on the farm are built using repurposed shipping containers, thereby offering a sustainable, cost-effective, and quick method of building spaces that are safe, enduring, and strong. In the future, we aspire to build such sustainable, artisanal businesses in different indigenous communities across the country.
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