The Universal Business School (UBS), a premier institute of management studies at the graduate and undergraduate level, based in Karjat, Mumbai, involved its students in Project Panah- (a UBS-Enactus initiative).
In August 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak, eight students from Mumbai’s Universal Business School initiated this sustainable business project intending to produce eco-friendly low-cost face masks whilst providing employment opportunities to women working in the informal sector.
"Panah is one of our very first projects in the sustainability space. We chose Karjat in Maharashtra to begin with because of its higher feasibility. Maharashtra was one of the worst-hit states and the project aimed to protect people during the pandemic," says Chandsi Sharma, President of Enactus UBS.
"The students at Universal Business School are focused on establishing ground-breaking, sustainable businesses that can benefit society and foster the next generation of budding entrepreneurs and leaders. Our community consists of global business, academic, and student leaders who are unified by one vision - to create a better world," shares Dr Asha Bhatia, Director- Research and Faculty in Charge of ENACTUS at Universal Business School.
For the seed funding, project Panah was put up on a fund-raising website, MILAAP and with the efforts of the team members, a sum of Rs. 27,060 was raised to begin the production and operations. "This fund has so far been utilised in such a way that it supports the project in the present and can later be used for expansion," adds Ritvika, Finance Head of Enactus UBS.
The students have been involved with various aspects of the project, including marketing (digital as well as in-field), logistics, customer relations, collaborations, and finances since the beginning.
"We have created a fast supply chain model wherein we procure raw materials from Mumbai and a financial model to keep finances on track. We use a cost-based pricing strategy to ensure that our products are affordable to all. We deliver our products through Indian post to our customers all over India," shares Vandita Sharma, Vice-President of Enactus UBS.
Panah has collaborated with Light of the Light Trust (LOLT), an NGO, for the manufacturing centre for sewing, warehousing facility for mask making, and skilled beneficiaries to ensure a smooth flow of operations. In return, the project pays the NGO's administrative costs. Students procure all the raw materials from a wholesale market in Mumbai.
At present, the project has generated employment for 30 women who stitch eco-friendly cotton face masks and are given fair compensation for the same.
Project Panah generated INR 50,000 revenue until July 2020 and attained breakeven in the fiscal year 21-22 Quarter 1.
For the expansion of the project, the team has been working on fruitful collaborations within the Enactus community and NGOs from different parts of India.
"We aim to make the project self-sustainable. For that, we plan to diversify the project by collaborating with various NGO’s and give them the required training in the domains of sales, marketing and finance. We apply the ‘train the trainer’ model for our beneficiaries. Going forward they can become micro-entrepreneurs and set up their own units with the training and skills that we provide to them," says Vineet, Panah's project head.
Panah has collaborated with Enactus ADGITM for a Media Partnership wherein all the products are featured on ‘Darpan’, an online store by Enactus ADGITM.