The core of the Freedom Business venture is the Business Incubator concept. The Incubator has been established to support the establishment of new business units that will provide employment opportunities for women from poor families who are at risk of getting caught into the trafficking networks that supply the sex trade. The Incubator provides business mentoring, project management, legal and accountancy services (and more!) to the new business units.
This 5 year project targets the setting up of four business units. Each business will follow the same social business model, with profits either returned to the business or used for the benefit of the target community. Once a business unit is firmly established and functioning it will commence paying for the Incubator services it receives.
The first of the new Freedom Businesses, Freeset Fabrics, was established in 2015, in the township of Sherpur. It is a hand-loom weaving unit and is already employing nearly 50 women, producing beautifully designed hand-loom woven products for export. Murshidabad was once famous for its hand crafted fabrics, and the current demand for handwoven items in Western markets is the opportunity for this business.
During 2016 Freeset Fabrics were awarded a social innovation grant from Harvard University South Asia Institute and Tata Trusts for technical and ergonomic improvements.
A further weaving unit is planned in nearby Valkundi, where a purpose built factory will have space for 200 employees.
The second business unit is in Dhulian, which is a township in the north of the District. This garments production unit commenced in 2016. They leased an old cinema hall and converted it into factory facilities. The first group of women have completed training, and begun production of “punjamies” (baggy pyjama pants) under contract to another organisation who are exporting them.
The third unit will be in Dak Bangla, and will be an extension to the Freeset Bags production facilities in Kolkata. This unit is just getting started, and will take on their first trainees in late 2017.
There is need for significant investment in this project as it includes the lease and/or purchase and refurbishment of buildings, and the purchase of production equipment for each of the business units. The project is supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). Every dollar donated gets another dollar from the New Zealand Government. If you are interested in backing any of these Start-up businesses, please contact the Banzaid manager to talk through the business plans, staffing and funding needs.
For more information visit the Freeset Business Incubator website: http://freesetincubator.com and Freeset Fabrics http://freesetglobal.com/fabrics-products/fabrics
pdf Download the full Banzaid 2017 Annual Report here. (3.75 MB)