Karwaan Community

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Startup Jalsa Empower Initiative

At Startup Jalsa 2020

We started our journey of empowerment back in 2020. Startup Jalsa has been on a mission to inspire, invest in and empower entrepreneurial talent. One such initiative undertaken by Startup Jalsa aimed at extending a helping hand to the rural women-led Self Help Groups by providing them funding of INR 1,00,000

The objective of this scheme was to extend financial assistance in the form of grants to SHG’s (Self Help Groups) to be utilised for taking up income generation activities towards the enhancement of their family incomes and livelihoods. The fund was given in three stages: establishment stage, working capital for capacity building and the final stage after the SHG’s have a go-to-market strategy. 

In accordance with the schemes, the Invest Edition 2020 is on a mission to empower 4 rural women funded Self Help Groups from Hamirpur District of Himachal Pradesh. During the Stage 1 establishment, a grant of INR 25,000 will be provided to them. Among the 4 SHGs, 2 are registered with Hamirpur Constituency of the State Legislative Assembly and the other 2 are new SHGs that have come up in the region.

The SHGs are provided with a platform to display their handicrafts such as baskets made out of bamboo, embroidered clothes and homemade food items like pickles etc. 

Anurag Thakur, Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, also praised this initiative of Start Up Jalsa. He said that the culture of handicrafts has been on a decline in Himachal Pradesh, due to the major technological advances and they should be encouraged so that the culture of the SHGs does not die down in the state and in the county.

The SHGs after getting trained in their crafts could not enable themselves to receive the remaining grant due to no market linkage. We realised that there is a bigger problem than the capital costs. Due to the remote nature of the artisans and significantly less access to the market and its trends, the artisans find it difficult to sell their crafts in the market. 

Diving deep into the problem we realised that the only way this problem can be solved at scale is by linking the artisans with brands directly and hence was born Karwaan : Journey to the roots

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Pine Needle of the Himalayas

Himachal Pradesh, a state in India that is at the foothills of the mighty Himalayas. It’s known for the quaint valleys and snow-covered mountains. Most of this beauty is made by the pine forest, with a cover of about 40,000 square kilometres. But the state is facing menacing environmental complications caused by the fallen leaves of pine trees called pine needles. This imbalance, caused by these needles, have had massive impacts on life and the entire ecosystem. It’s also the fight against plastic pollution and the endeavour to sustainably support stakeholder communities.

Himachal Pradesh, India

In 2007, the imbalance caused by the pine needles forced the local communities to come together and take a step towards saving the environment. Sudarshana Kumari, a resident of Rait in the Kangra District of Himachal is a pioneer in pine needle craft. She has received variousrecognitions from the government. Using her skills to experiment with pine needles and weave utility products she has trained over 4000 women in the state and is providing sustainable employment to over 70 women. In this craft, the pine needles are woven, coiled or braided together to make utility products like table mats, baskets, coasters etc. These products are zero waste, biodegradable and can be used for years with very low maintenance. 

Sudarshana Kumar training the women of Himachal
Work in Progress
Pine Needle Products
Product Display

In February 2021, the pine needle artisans, House of Locals, and Karwaan came together to promote this hidden gem of Himachal by creating innovative products with the objective of creating market linkage for the artisans. 


House of Locals is a contemporary design studio based out of the North East that focuses on product development. Their entire pine collection is about exploring shapes and textures in everyday objects keeping in mind the functionality aspect.

“We understood the importance of design integration in crafts and how important it is for designers to work with artisans“ – Founder, House of Locals

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Clean Water and Sustainability

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