Hasiru Batte's journey

|Author: Anjanee|

In the autumn quarter, I was worried, “What if I don’t have people to hang out with, have deep conversations with, do yoga with, have coffee with and go out for lunches and dinners with?" 1600 hours, 3 states, 1 union territory, 5 cities and one village later here I am. I have made friends for life, built relations that will go beyond work and have stakeholders who believe in me and my team.

Yesterday our team met with Nalini and pitched her our business idea for Hasiru Batte. We got some very valuable feedback. In our quest to get statistics for our GCIL project, we had lost sight of the real picture. This project was all about impacting the waste picker lives positively. To get data on the outreach, collection and market for the clothes, we were pushing Krishna’s limits. He had to spend hours going door to door with us, leaving him with little time to do his actual work. When we collected 306 pieces of clothing, watching Krishna and his family members take away 96, we were concerned and thought that he was being greedy. We thought he might just become selfish and try to monopolize the business. We were worried if he was the right person to take Hasiru Batte forward.

We judged too soon, I guess.

Our meeting with Akshay, who is a business graduate from Berkeley was very informative. He gave us amazing business ideas, he streamlined our markets for us. We came out of the meeting feeling like we were ready to test our startup in the market. And that’s what we did on the days to follow. That’s what made us doubt Krishna and his intentions. For a while we had forgotten about the poor conditions of DWCCs, the plight of all waste pickers we met, the hope Krishna had in us.

Nalini brought us back on track. She reiterated how our primary goal was to uplift waste pickers’ lives. Generate revenue streams for them. Give back to their community. Develop a business and just hand over to them. After all, why couldn't waste pickers be entrepreneurs? She told us how time and again people came from top universities, invested large amounts of money, tried to create a business out of waste management and failed.

These waste pickers have been in the business for years. They have more experience and expertise than any businessman. So, we have decided that the best way to help them is to give them the tools to help themselves. There is room for improvement and a lot more we could have done but what we have done is “...learned about a grand challenge, proposed and tested our solution”.

While the GCIL program may be ending, Hasiru Batte’s journey has just begun.

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