Umbrellas to weather the storm

lKarthumbi umbrellas are made by tribal women from Attappadi and marketed by Prathidhwani, a socio-cultural outfit, in the city lThe entrepreneurial venture is aimed at bringing financial sustainabili

Published: 16th May 2018 09:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th May 2018 06:13 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

TIRUVANANTHAPURAM : The monsoon is tiptoeing  in and the pre-monsoon showers have already started to lash out with all its intensity. And far away, in the tribal village of Attappadi, a group of women are engrossed in crafting out that perfect umbrella for you, a strikingly beautiful umbrella which you can flaunt, swirl, and twirl in as you usher in the rains. ‘Karthumbi’ is back.

Karthumbi is the entrepreneurial venture of tribal womenfolk from Attappadi. The decision to start such a venture occurred in the aftermath of the death of infants in the hamlet a few years back. “We decided on starting some programme that will bring financial sustainability to the tribal families in Attappadi,” says Rajendra Prasad, president of the tribal voluntary organisation Thampu. And Karthumbi was born. 

Started by ‘Thambu’, the initial two years saw the manufacture of some 1,000 umbrellas, and this year the orders have increased into more than 20,000. ‘Karthumbi’ has now developed into a brand, at par with any umbrella brand. Three-fold umbrellas, Kalankuda (crook-handle or grandfather umbrella), two-fold umbrellas and umbrellas customised for children are currently being fashioned out by Karthumbi. 
As many as 100 families are currently involved in making the umbrellas. What began four years back by grouping together the womenfolk of the tribal families has now developed into a major brand which is churning out quality umbrellas. 

Around 60 tribal women are currently involved in making the umbrellas while 140 are currently being trained for umbrella making. The social media initiative ‘Peace Collective’ is involved in promoting and marketing of the brand.This year too Prathidhwani, the socio-cultural organisation of Technopark, has decided to team up with Karthumbi to act as a platform to facilitate the sales of the umbrellas. Last time, more than 1000 orders were received from the employees of Technopark.

“The umbrellas are available in varied colours and are of top-notch quality. We have joined with them in an effort to encourage them in their entrepreneurship venture,” said Rajeev Krishnan, secretary Prathidhwani. The market rate of each umbrella is Rs 330 and those ordering via Prathidhwani will get a piece at Rs 300. The bookings for the umbrellas have begun and members of the cultural forum can be contacted to book the umbrellas. The umbrellas will be delivered via the stalls set up in three buildings at Technopark in the last week of May. “For orders coming from outside Technopark, we will ensure that they are delivered directly to the customers in the city,” says Rajeev.

“It is the women who run the families in the tribal areas and our aim is to ensure livelihood to them. The larger aim is to ensure that they are employed 365 days of the year, thereby ensuring economic sustenance. It is not just umbrellas and Karthumbi will branch out to other articles such as LED making, solar panel making and so forth in future,’ says Rajendra Prasad.

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