Best Associate of March 2014

March 2014 was indeed a busy month for Conserve India. Having said that, we had a chance to interact with so many people around the globe. We are honored to felicitate 4 exceptionally talented and lovely folks with  Best Associate of March’ 2014 award.

  1. Ms. Kerry Evans – Designer, SERRV
  2. Ms. Amy Stretmater – Koru Street
  3. Ms. Fiona Wright – The Stitching Project
  4. Mr. David Grant – Strategy Director, Place Associates

Most of you should be aware of the first 3 ladies. Their contribution for Women’s Day 2014 Guest Blogging was exceptional. While Mr. Grant worked on our Branding Strategy and his contribution was also equally exceptional.

Congrats from all of us here at Conserve India!

Also, Thanks to each and every one of you for your valuable contribution to Conserve India. It was such a pleasure to work with you. Look forward to associate with you very soon.


Founder and Creative Director Anita Ahuja’s thoughts on successful 1150 days of Conserve India’s Bahadurgarh Factory

When I write this post, I am so very elated. Today on March 30’ 2014, we are celebrating 1150 successful days of Conserve India’s Factory at Footwear Park, Bahadurgarh, Haryana.

On this joyous occasion, I like to give you a flavor of the rough roads we traveled to reach wherever we are today. Have a sneak peak of my journal….

Year 2006
The Yamunapushta , the slum where we trained our rag pickers got demolished. All the rag pickers move to new location called “madan pur khadir”. We moved our project to madan pur khadir. We started our schools and training programs began. In simple words, we are very well established here.
There was a feeling that “madan pur khadir” is not permanent. A feeling that said this is just a temporary home. There was a very strong feeling that this slum would also get demolished very soon.
There were commonwealth games around. As time lapsed, we became inherent part of Delhi 2020 committee. All this gave a very strong impression that the rag pickers would be shunted out of the city. And also, in the next few years all slums in Delhi would be demolished.

Year 2009
Unfortunately whatever we expected happened. We tracked our rag pickers who had been picked up in trucks and left outside west Delhi in an area called Bahadurgarh, Haryana.
They settled in cardboard settlement with no electricity, toilets, school etc. There was no garbage to pick because the industries as well as residential houses were yet to emerge. After all, Poor villages hardly generate any waste. Only we urbanites create all of them.
Their life was expecting a light so as their houses without electricity.

What now?

We realized the need for Conserve India there. A potential that can pave way for much needed sunshine, a ray of hope!!
We were adamant that this time it need to something big and concrete.The answer was – A new factory which could be audited and was standards compliant.
So we bought a piece of land in the footwear park being built by Haryana Industrial Development Corporation. The exorbitant land and building cost made us take a loan from a commercial bank.

Year 2009 – 2011

Lots of hard work, sacrifice and courage to give life to our vision!!!!!

Year 2011

Conserve India factory / manufacturing unit was established on 04 February 2011 at footwear park, Bahadurgarh, Haryana

Year 2011 – Year 2014

The footwear park has capacity of 1700 factories. All major shoe brands have their factory in this park .The factories needed labor. Unfortunately, there were lot of problems in Gurgaon and Manesar industrial belts because the slum dwellers and the villagers are not given any jobs in these factories The reason being they are unemployable. The factory owner does not have time to train labor. The owners preferred trained labor so they make bus arrangements and labor is brought from outside. This leads to lot of frustration among the local people because when they saw these high rise factories coming up and they envisioned that they will get good jobs. Unfortunately the jobs were given to outsiders. All this lead to unrest!

Conserve India factory solved the tension to greater extent as our working model emphasized training people before employing them in our factory. Conserve India in collaboration with the local govt aims to train many groups in future. Its large factory makes it quite ideal for the training.
We have also established a much needed school in the slum in the year 2012.

Also on this joyous occasion of  successful 1150 days, I look forward to welcome you to our Factory……………


It’s been 15 years, but questions remain the same…………….

15 years passed by the blink of the eye. So many things have changed during this journey. But one thing that remained the same are these Q. It’s question time. Or Better I say, Answer time !!!!

Conserve India bags are made of which material?

The material is recycled polythene bags that are picked up from Delhi’s street every day. We call this recycled material by the name – “Handmade Recycled Plastic”
We have developed environmentally benign process that converts waste polythene bags into thicker sheets. These sheets have properties that are significantly different from the original thin film poly-bags. These can be stitched, embroidered upon and woven to create a variety of marketable products out of trash.

How do Conserve India bags get their colors ? Are they dyed or printed ?

No, we do not use any colors or dyes. The colors are result of our creative talent. The different colors of plastic waste are combined creatively to achieved a new color palette.

Is this process environmental friendly?

Yes, compared to conventional recycling process, our patented process uses much less energy and also causes no pollution. As a value addition, it also helps reducing the environmental problems caused by plastic waste.

If you have more Q, give a buzz using the contact form in the blog, we will leave no stone unturned to answer your question

Journey of Conserve India through the eyes of Founder and Creative Director – Anita Ahuja

Conserve India, a seed of change sown on 27 March 1998 has literally withstood so many test of time and has grown into an inspiring Tree of life providing shade to 300 people. At this juncture, I like to thank everyone who was part of this exemplifying journey.

It was tremendous success after all we had 15 Milestones in 15 Years

As we celebrate 15 successful years, folks have so many Questions on where we started, how we got here etc.

Join me as I walk down the memory lane……..

Year 1997

A bunch of Environmental conscious group got to together over a cup of coffee. And, we closed off with a decision to empower the community through training in energy efficiency and waste management practices

To give life to the ideas, the very same environmental conscious group met the Deputy Commissioner to obtain a small park in Madhuban (area where I stay) to build a composting pit.

1st milestone – We constructed a pit from the segregates waste of 200 houses

The deputy commissioner was so very pleased and asked all of us to meet the Chief minister of Delhi. Well, we did that. The chief minister asked us to use this as a model project which she is launching by the name of “Bhagyadari”.

Year 1998

2nd Milestone – Conserve India got registered in the year 1998.

While working on all these, we equally devoted time for networking to achieve bigger and better things. During one of those networking sessions with USAID, we got acquainted to Joe loper from an NGO called “Alliance to Save Energy”.

3rd Milestone – We received our first project – Formation of council of energy efficiency companies in 1998

As a stroke of luck, around the same time one of our patrons, Late Mr. P.R. Kumarmanagalam became power minister. We got him aboard to support our energy efficiency projects.

Year 2000

4th Milestone – We worked with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and conducted a study on waste management practices in a low income area

Year 2000 – 2004

We worked with several groups on environmental issues

Year 2004

5th Milestone – We gave life to the idea of working with plastic waste

Year 2005

In spite of so many difficulties associated in entering a trade show, Conserve achieved the target of participation in trade show.

6th Milestone – Participation in India International Leather Fair –IILF from January 30 to February 4’ 2005 at Chennai, India

We were successful in getting our largest ever single order from Spain in this fair and that too from a very prominent Design label

7th Milestone – Participation in Export Promotion Council’s International Trade Fair from February 25 to March 01’ 2005 at Delhi, India

The stall received enthusiastic response and generated more than 1500 footfalls over a 4 day period.

Year 2006

8th Milestone – Received Patent for the process of Handmade Recycled Plastic

Around the same time,unfortunately the slum where we trained our rag pickers got demolished. All the rag pickers move to new location called “madan pur khadir”

Year 2007

9th Milestone – We established our first factory in patparganj, Delhi.

We also created infrastructure that can be used for training as well as creating jobs. As a first step, we started training programs for producing handbags and footwear.

We initiated micro credit programs for employees to buy machines and tools to set up independent units

Year 2009

10th Milestone – We initiated Health camps and mobile health clinic

Beneficiaries – 2586 rag-pickers (Numbers are accurate as of March 2014)

At the same time, the rag pickers locality of madan pur khadir slum gets demolished. The rag pickers are pushed out of Delhi, towards an area called Bahadurgarh in Haryana

Year 2011

11th Milestone – we established our own factory on 04 February 2011 in a recognized industrial area – Bahadurgarh in Haryana

Year 2012

12th Milestone – Established a school for rag picker children

Beneficiaries – 100, sons and daughters of rag-pickers (Numbers are accurate as of March 2014)

13th Milestone – Established Center for Adult Literacy

Beneficiaries – 30 Women (Numbers are accurate as of March 2014)

Year 2013

14th Milestone – Handbags & Footwear training center trained 1200 people in total

15th Milestone – 50 people were given micro credit to buy machines and tools to set up independent units

Year 2014

With generous support and contribution of so many employees, consultants, buyers, interns and well-wishers we are celebrating 15 successful years of “Conserve India”

Icing on the cake is that we will be celebrating successful completion of 1150 days of Bahadurgarh Factory on March 30’ 2014.

Catch you soon once again during that celebration

Management Problem and Innovative Solution Series – Washing Plastic Bags

Management Problem – Washing Plastic Bags

Problem in Detail – Handmade Recycled Plastic (HRP) is the base for almost all our products. But, to create handmade recycled plastic sheets, plastic bags need to be spotlessly clean. It is obvious that plastic bags picked by rag-pickers will be immensely dirty. So, they need to be thoroughly washed. Washing plastic bags may sound simple. But the magnitude of our orders was so huge. This translates into exorbitant amount of plastic bags that needs to be washed. Since we did not have a washing unit the plastic bags were initially washed on the roadside.

Innovative Solution – To solve this management problem, we encouraged residents to share their roof tops. Many residents generously did oblige.
On lighter side, a cartoon was published in The Times of India on May 8, 2003 by Mr. Lakshman. Have a look at the cartoon.



Management Problem and Innovative Solution Series – Involvement of School children in plastic bags collection

Management Problem – Collecting specific colored plastic bags

Problem in Detail – Handmade Recycled Plastic (HRP) is the base for almost all our products. But, to create handmade recycled plastic sheets we needed specific colored plastic bags. On one side, we were getting large number of orders. On the other side, rag pickers were not trained to pick the specific colored plastic bags from the streets.
Since we produce for Fashion Industry, colors and shades are very important.

Innovative Solution – To solve this management problem, we ran campaigns in schools to help us collect the specific colored plastic bags. It may look like a simple one. But in reality, it serves 2 other purposes apart from helping us to collect specific colored plastic bags to fulfill our orders.

First and foremost, it creates waste management consciousness in school children. Secondly, it creates a thought process in students that waste can be used to create something productive.

Glimpse of Campaign



Management Problem and Innovative Solution Series – Color Tutorial for Conserve India Employees

Management Problem – Conserve India employees do not recognize the names or shades of colors and Hindi Language do not have names for shades of colors

Problem in Detail – When Conserve India forayed into the plastic project, We realized that color of the plastic bags play a huge role. Unfortunately, employees did not know the names of the colors. They came from different states/ villages. So they spoke different dialect or different language in some case.

Even if they speak Hindi the names of colors are very limited in Hindi. This language does not have names for shades. There is no name for mauve or coral in Hindi.

Since we produce for Fashion Industry, shades are very important.

Innovative Solution – To solve this management problem, we have named every shade of color on a Bollywood star. After all, this is one vocabulary everyone knows. To further aid that, we created a album. You can find the link below.

This album  is used for “Color tutorial for Conserve India Employees” in the training Center

Does the concept of “Commodity Hell” exist for Social Enterprises?

You enter a super market or grocery store to grab a pack of Potato Chips.  Can you find one?

Nope, you can find many and many of those in single aisle!

This is a classic example of “Commodity Hell”

For the uninitiated, Commodity Hell is a situation where all the competing products offer the same benefits and price is the only differentiation factor.

Unfortunately, this Commodity Hell has become a curse to almost every industry.  Each and every industry is forced to give consumers a compelling reason to buy their product over competing products.

So, even Social Enterprises have/ will become prey to this?

Well, Answer is straightforward if you figure the way out of this Commodity Hell.

Can someone say No to Starbucks? Of Course not! Just think this in terms of Commodity Hell.

Starbucks sells Coffee, one of the most ubiquitous products.  So, how come Starbucks did not fall prey to this “Commodity Hell”?

Starbucks Chairman Schultz always insisted Starbucks as “third place” to hang out.  The company stays true to its words by giving value addition like Wi-Fi and music along with Coffee.  We are all aware of the unbelievable acceptance and success of Brand Starbucks.

Starbucks isn’t only one. There are many more in the list like Google, Microsoft, Walmart etc.

Simply put, winning the Commodity Hell is all about “Innovation”

Innovation being the core all Social Enterprises, they will never fall prey to the Commodity Hell.

But “Innovation” is not just enough to win and make a long term mark in today’s economy.

Winning Recipe for Social Enterprise should include both Innovation and BRAND ESTABLISHMENT

Paradigm Shift – Will there be “space” for Social Enterprises?

There was a time when seller needs to look for “Place or Market Place” to sell his products or conduct transactions.

But not anymore!!!!!!!

Today, a seller is good to go if he registers a domain and uploads his products, then he is all set to sell his products or conduct transactions.

The concept of “brick and mortar or Market Place” is vanishing.  It’s all about “click of mouse”.

This paradigm shift gave rise to a new term – “Market Space”

Market Space” is a term used to describe the electronic market places unbound by time and space.  In these “Market Space” physical goods, services and information are exchanged through computer networks.

This “Market Space” caught so much attention that American Marketing Association changed the definition of Marketing in the year 2005 by stressing customer relationship as critical factor of success.

Verdict of “Market Space” – Customers relationship is the top priority and customers can shop, place orders 24/7.

Well, if you think that’s about the verdict, you will be sadly mistaken. There is another dimension to this Verdict – Verdict from Producer Point of View.

“Market Space” from Producer’s Point of View

A)  Design and implementation of online experience is still not an easy cake walk for huge % of producers

B)  Firms lose control over the information that is disseminated about their company or products. It has the potential to give positive reputation, but also negative reputation.

Let’s move 1 step forward and find “Market Space” from Social Enterprise’s (the one that produce and sell products for Social good) Point of View

1) The magnitude of problems listed in Point A and Point B of Producer’s Point of View is way too large for this Social Enterprise sector

In that case, Will there be “space” for Social Enterprises (the one that produce and sell products for Social Good) in this paradigm shift?

2) Customer relationship being the critical factor of success poses huge problem for Social Enterprises. In this Global Market Space, Customer Relationship means more of handling educated, high income customers. All this boils down to – “English is Mandatory?”

It is undeniable fact that vulnerable and lower strata population are the core of Social Enterprises

In that case, Will there be “space” for Social Enterprises (the one that produce and sell products for Social Good) in this paradigm shift?

3) The “Market Space” substitutes technology for human interaction. It is a huge curse for Social Enterprise.

One of the mandates of Social Enterprise is to increase jobs.

In that case, Will there be “space” for Social Enterprises (the one that produce and sell products for Social Good) in this paradigm shift?

Unfortunately, the answer for – “Will there be “space” for Social Enterprises (the one that produce and sell products for Social Good) in this paradigm shift?” is quite gloomy at this point of time.

Only time can answer this Q – Will there be “space” for Social Enterprises?


Even “Social Enterprise” will become the territory of Product Managers, Brand Managers, Digital Acquisition Managers or Social Media Managers  or most importantly Corporate Social Responsibility [CSR] Managers ?

Monthly Monday Book Review for March’2014 – Global Girlfriends – Stacey Edgar

Every month on first Monday, we do Book Review. Last Monday, we had Guest Blogging. So, this month, we have moved this segment to Second Monday.  Time for Book Review!

Enjoy the Book Review with steaming hot coffee.

Book Name – Global Girlfriends

Author – Stacey Edgar

Official description of the Book

“Eight years ago, Stacey Edgar had a $2,000 tax return and a deep desire to help provide economic security for women in need. She knew that of the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1 per day, seventy percent are women. What she didn’t have was a business plan. Or a passport. But that didn’t stop her from creating a socially conscious business that has helped poor women in five continents feed their families and send their children to school.

Global Girlfriends is Stacey’s inspiring story of following her convictions, interwoven with the stories of her colleagues and friends–real women all over the world, from Guatemala to Nepal, from Haiti to Uganda. It is also a passionate argument for simple actions we can all take to eliminate extreme poverty.”

What’s in the Book?

The book starts with the Introduction – No Passport Required. It continues with Peace Corps Reject and goes through many destinations of fair trade social enterprises. The journey ends with Afterword and Beyond.

What I liked the most?

1) Most of the chapters recount author’s travels to meet with the people making the products that are sold at . This kind of story telling makes it super interesting.

2) As you move forward, it also documents the successful development of the business with those folks she met during the travel. This approach makes it lot more interesting to continue reading.

3) During the start phase, author doesn’t know much about business. Author’s approach of sharing her fears and successes, her hesitations and greatest ideas acts like a confidence boost for any women planning to get into the venture.

4) Also, the epilogue, ‘Afterward: And Beyond’ lays out all the resources you need to follow a passion to help women and bring them out of poverty. This account of pointers feels like you have come one big round.

5) The book accounts success stories of women who have survived rape, war, torture, and other obstacles to create business and supported their families. Every story will serve as an example for the International Women’s Day 2014 theme – “Inspiring Change”

Did you know?

According to United Nations Development Fund for Women, women do 66% of the world’s work but earn only 10% of the income and own only 1% of the property.

What was the surprise?

India had become the 3rd largest consumer of plastic behind only United States and Canada

Verse to remember

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck” – The Dalai Lama

Crowning glory

Every girl loves to own all fashion brands in the world. But there is this special dress that she loves to wear on very special occasion.

On that note, you may have affordability and accessibility to world’s top most fashion designers. But a very simple handmade dress with mom’s love is the ultimate joy

On that note, every story is great and there is no differing opinion on that.

But, the greatest, the most beautiful and the most impressive of all is – “God turns his head on the Indian Highway”

This title features the Story of Conserve India & Anita Ahuja

So, have you read this book? If yes, were our views different?

Official description of the book sourced from –