We love the fair trade wholesalers and innovators in ethical, sustainable businesses. This week the spotlight is on Indian based social entrepreneur business that empowers women to realize their creative, and leadership potential.
The Matr Boomie venture is joining the ranks among today’s socially conscience start-ups to bring dignity to the women of India and fashion to women around the world.
The sustainable handmade gifts and accessories distributor located in Texas, USA is helping to turn 2,000 marginalized women in India into artisan entrepreneurs who can create a better future for themselves and their families.
Matr Boomie works with remarkable women in Mumbai, teaching them how to take the traditional arts they have learnt from their ancestors and transform them into gifts and jewelry that can be sold internationally. Their mission is to create opportunities for women and minorities to realize their creative, economic and leadership potential.
The social impact business model combines the best of both worlds: the trust, reliability and professionalism of an established wholesale company plus exclusive, modern, boho-chic styles that appeal to ethical consumers.
In a country where traditionally women have had to rely upon men for their most basic needs, the venture is also having a ripple effect on women’s empowerment.
“When we go to a village, we look for women to work with as artisans,” says Matr Boomie Co-founder Manish Gupta. “Suddenly, women are the sought after ones. That often shifts the whole community’s respect towards women.”
Helping women artisans succeed in business has brought to the forefront the need for literacy to keep records for orders and supplies. Matr Boomie has enlisted the help of a nonprofit arm that teaches women how to read both Hindi and English. Traditionally women have had to rely upon a man for anything related to writing and business, so once women are equipped with the tool of literacy they are empowered to not only handle their finances, but also their lives.
Working with female artisans has also revealed other factors affecting girls and women in Indian society. Being an extremely cultural society, there are many rituals and laws that complicate everyday life. One of the most impeding is that when women are menstruating they are not allowed to cook, attend temple, travel and are basically treated like outcasts. However this changes instantly once women have access to sanitary napkins, which are often unknown of in rural villages, absent, or just too expensive.
Matr Boomie have decided to treat this issue as another social impact business they could turn over to the women they partner with in India. They have purchased and set up machinery for the village and have trained the local women to operate in order to produce the napkins. The women then take over production and are able to sell these napkins within their community at a small margin.
All of these small changes together are making a big difference for both Western consumers and Indian women. Beautiful traditional arts that were on the verge of being lost are now available for sale in boutiques across America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand and are creating cultural change and allowing women in rural India to catch up to women in other cities in terms of empowerment and education.
“The chain has been broken,” says Matr Boomie Co-founder Ruchi Gupta. “Instead of hearing stories of women accepting the status of second class citizens, they feel confident because they are participating in business. That confidence leads to them participating more in their household decisions. And then they participate in their community’s decisions, elections, and politics. We see the changes come faster and faster.”
Sustainable business is empowering a whole sector of Indian society, proving this type of assistance is more effective in the long term than a charity hand out, as the women are set up with their own sustainable businesses.
The passion of the Matr Boomie organisation is truly inspiring and uplifting and has made a significant difference in the lives of partner artisans, their families and their communities.
And the products are just as beautiful as they are mindful. Each product contains a tag with the inspiring story of the woman who made the gift, encapsulating the fundamental essence of Matr Boomie and that is women reaching across continents to share beauty with each other.