Sampoorna Bamboo Kendra (SBK), founded by social workers Sunil & Nirupama Deshpande, was started during the mid-90s from tribal village of Lawada in Melghat Forest. SBK was started initially as a means to solve the malnutrition problem in the region and to help improve upon the many other social problems that plague the region.
Today with the advent of mass produced goods, artisan based products are having a hard time competing at these price points and hence artisan communities around the world and in India are dwindling. The artisan communities at one time formed the base of a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable decentralized industrial economy, unlike today’s western industrialized economies, which aren’t nearly as socially or environmentally sustainable. It is this economy that is based on artisanry that they would like to resurrect. Hence, the ultimate vision behind SBK’s work is to:
“Restablish respect & honor for artisans in society”
With such a deep vision, their work is well beyond the activities of just generating a livelihood in the Melghat region, it spans the entire country. The Melghat is where they are effectively developing this model that they hope to spread across all of India in hopes of revitalizing and reestablishing India’s amazing tradition of artisanry, some of the best in the world and while in the process employing rural India much more effectively and responsiblly than today.
This vision has led them to generate livelihoods in the Melghat region by offering trainings in bamboo handicraft & housing work to ST and SC youth. Bamboo was chosen as it is an eco-friendly sustainable renewable resource with remarkable strength and flexibility, locally available throughout India and has 100’s of applications for man-kind. In support of this work, they are involved with marketing of handicrafts through an artisan cooperative, building awareness of bamboo applications, working to organize artisans on a local, state and national level through Karigar Panchayats in order to fight for artisan rights and working to change government policies to be more artisan supportive. In addition, their work concentrates on improving design and production in order to ensure the trainees have viable livelihoods in today’s socio-economic environment. Outside of the bamboo livelihood work, SBK is involved with other social development work in areas such as rural credit generation, village-level micro-planning, SHG group creation and crèche center operation, all targeted at the local Melghat population.