We are a social enterprise. Our members are tribal women from Attappadi, a valley at the foothills of the Western Ghats in Palakkad district, which is the largest tribal settlement in Kerala. We belong to tribes of indigenous people of this land. Our ancestors survived by farming and living off of the natural resources of the forest. They made a sustainable living for centuries. We were content and happy. All this changed a few decades ago. The area saw a huge influx of migrants since early 1930s. The immigrants poached our lands. Farming became unsustainable. Urbanization combined with other social changes forced us to look for other options. We found ourselves building this enterprise as the answer.
We aim to generate income for sustainable development in the region, which is persistently being exploited since migration. Like any other society, tribal population of Attappadi dream of nutritious food, quality education and good living conditions. Some dreams need to be fulfilled. One among them is the colorful dreams that the children of Attappadi holding very close to their tender heart.
Thampu, a well established NGO, one among a few in Kerala with Tribal Representatives in Director Board, led by Mr.Rajendra Prasad, took initiative in helping to spread wings for this beautiful dream. A collective of friends, from all over the world, named Peace Collective, who dreams of a peaceful society and work for good social changes, is providing all kind of support. Thus Thampu along with peace collective is trying to improve the self sufficiency of our tribal community at least to some extent.
Karthumbi started its activities of manufacturing and marketing umbrellas back in 2016. Thampu coordinates our production and marketing efforts and Peace collective helps us with marketing and raising fund. It started by manufacturing just 500 umbrellas by the financial aid of expats in UAE, UK and US. Marketing was done mainly through Facebook and Google Plus. We were able to sell most of the umbrellas and received good response. This triggered Karthumbi to produce more than 4000 umbrellas in 2017 by finding the initial capital as loan from the friends of Peace collective in UAE. Umbrellas were sold with the support of many individuals and organizations like Prathidhwani of Techno park, Trivandrum, Progressive Techies of InfoPark, Kochi, Sanchari group based in Kochi and utilizing the marketing possibilities of social medias like Facebook and Google plus. Apps like Telegram and Whatsapp are well used.
In 2017 Karthumbi umbrellas could bring Rs. 3, 00,000 to few tribal families by selling umbrellas which valued Rs. 12, 00,000 and were able to save Rs. 50,000 as well. Majority of the loan amount is been refunded.
Subsequently, we have been enormously supported by the Kerala State ST department and in particular through the TSP fund (Rs. 16, 40,000 was provided in 2017). Honorable Minister Sri. A K Balan has inaugurated our sales in 2017 at Attappadi and has provided us space for temporary production hub at Agali in 2018. This has been great inspiration for us.
Karthumbi is first of an array of products we are planning as part of this initiative. Each of these umbrellas is handmade by trained members.Each mother is earning ₹500/- day and ~₹15000/- a month including the incentives. This provides a sustainable income for many families of the village, which will be broadening every year.