Here at My Job, we know that most of the world’s 7.3 billion scramble to make a living any way they can: selling goods, hauling supplies, cleaning up messes, farming someone else’s land, or building and repairing products. The Gallup Poll reports that only 25% of adults have a fulltime job worldwide, and the International Labor Organization (ILO) finds that 50-75% (excluding agriculture) of workers in developing countries are in the “informal” or “grey” economy, with poor conditions, no benefits, and no stability.
Creating jobs is as American as our flag, and it’s also what the world needs now to sustain families from America to Assam. When Suzanne traveled to India, she saw the power of job-creation firsthand.
For as little as $240, Upaya Social Ventures, a nonprofit organization that builds jobs to end poverty, creates long-term, dignified, reliable jobs for ultra-poor families who’ve previously had access only to trash-picking, stone-splitting, and odd jobs with farming and construction. Currently, Upaya supports eight enterprises that employ 1,795 people.
Arindam Dasgupta is just one example from Upaya’s portfolio—He’s a smart social entrepreneur with a master’s in rural agronomy who decided to bring his city smarts to the rural northeast of India to set up shop in Barpeta, Assam.
“People laughed at me, saying I was mad for taking the path to the village instead of the city,” Arindam recalls. “Today I am known for my arecanut-leaf plate initiative.”
Tamul Plates has won awards for their skill-training empowerment and environmental innovation. The company employs 750 people, supports over 100 local microenterprises, and produces over 2 million biodegradable, disposable dinner plates per year out of what used to be rotting waste. The heavy rainfalls and tropical climate cause native palms to grow like wildfire, and their falling leaves cover some 247,000 acres.
Arindam and his team project the disposable dinnerware market to be currently at $32 billion worldwide, growing at 4.8% annually. They just might be onto something new that could produce a whole lot more jobs.
Check out this video highlighting Upaya Social Ventures social entrepreneur Arindam Dasgupta. At his factory, Tamul Plates, Arindam and his team turn palm leaves into dinnerware using simple heaters and presses they designed themselves.
Cover photo: Tamul: Arindam with his team. Courtesy of Upaya Social Ventures