By Hand From The Heart is a biannual Makers Market held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Meet Sridhar Lakshmanan of ecoLogin – the for-profit social enterprise that promotes rural and tribal products and services and “Basecamp” – the NGO arm of ecoLogin that undertakes developmental, educational and social research projects in remote rural areas. Meet this social entrepreneur at the makers market this October.
A bit about yourself and ecologin.
Born and brought up in the city of Chennai, I never visited a village till I was 19. The ten day NSS camp in college left a lasting impression on the ecological and cultural wealth of hinterland India. After graduating from IIM Ahmadabad, I took up assignments that gave me the opportunity to work with remote rural and tribal communities. I have always strived to be on my own and be a social entrepreneur, and “ecoLogin Rural and Tribal Products and Services Pvt Ltd” is a result of this preference for self-employment combined with my passion for travelling to, and working with the remote rural and tribal communities.
ecoLogin has a hybrid organisational structure- “ecoLogin”, the for-profit social enterprise that promotes rural and tribal products and services while “Basecamp” –the NGO arm of ecoLogin undertake developmental, educational and social research projects in these areas. The very first service offering of ecoLogin was the tourism. The company offers tourism experience in offbeat locations and have a growing roster of around 65 locations in and around Tamil Nadu.
Having established this network of rural and tribal communities that we work with, ecoLogin is now in a unique position to offer other products and services of rural and tribal origin, and improving livelihood of the communities in these locations. The focus will be on value addition and finding markets for existing products and identifying new avenues for livelihood.
The first offering is raw, wild collected, unfiltered and minimally processed honey, under the brand name “Thaen”. We offer several varieties of honey- Pondu Thaen (Little Bee Honey), Malai Thaen (Rock Bee Honey), Bitter Honey and the very unique and rare Siru Thaen which comes from a rare species of tiny, stingless Dammer bees.
ecoLogin will be working with the Thoda community in the Nilgiris. In addition to working on a community based tourism model featuring their unique lifestyle, cultural heritage, architecture and art and craft products of this pastoral community, ecoLogin will also promote some of the unique products that this community specialises in. This will include free ranging wild buffaloes ghee prepared by the Thodas from the milk of buffaloes reared by the Thoda’s of Nilgiris and grazed in the wild. Thoda embroidery and thoda silver ornaments is another unique product that ecologin would be promoting in near future. ecoLogin is also looking at creating Miniature models of the thoda hut replicating the unique construction style, to be sold as Christmas Cribs in international market. Kota pottery is another unique product from the Nilgiris that ecoLogin will be promoting.
Essential oil is another product that is being pilot tested. It has several features that make it a suitable product for tribal communities. The herbage can be cultivated even in small land holdings or can be collected from wild as an NTPF. The essential oil extract has very low volume than the herbage thus reducing packaging and transportation costs, but fetches higher value in the market than the herbage, thus providing better return on investment for the tribal communities.
You have participated at an earlier edition at BHFTH; share your experience.
This is the third edition of BHFTH that ecoLogin is participating in. BHFTH has been the launch pad for our honey brand, give us a platform to engage with discerned customers and thus gave us the conviction to confidently engage with the producer communities.
Tell us about your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.
In this edition of BHFTH, we will be introducing a combination of Siru thaen and powdered wild Cinnamon. The other new product is organic walnuts and organic almonds from Kashmir as well as organic figs from Afganisthan soaked/ dipped in raw wild honey.
Thoda embroidery based products will be launched in a separate pavilion. Ms. Jayamuthu, a Thoda embroidery artist and an enterprising women working with her relatives and neighbours in the Mund, will be showcasing the work done by them in this edition of BHFTH. ecoLogin will supporting them with design and product inputs, value addition and access to market.
At the Makers Market exhibition in Chennai this October, meet the maker!
By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – Festival Special – 19th Edition
Date: Friday – Saturday, 7th – 8th October, 2016
Time: 10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Venue: Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
Address: 132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India